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"My Abuela's Table"
Says Lucinda: "Given my limited shelf space, I only keep books that answer three important questions: Did the recipes work? Is the food delicious? And did I learn something? Of the dozens of new books I’ve read and cooked from this year, these are my favorites. The thing they have in common is their appreciation for the great mosaic of cultures around us. I can’t think of a better gift to receive.”
Author and artist Daniella Germain illustrates the traditional ingredients and equipment used in her Mexican grandmother's recipes (including gorgeous how-tos) while delivering sublime food, such as Lomo Almendrado (pork loin in almond sauce). Hardie Grant Books, $30.
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Straightforward yet inventive Middle Eastern cuisine is the hallmark of London chefs Yotam Ottolenghi (from Jewish West Jerusalem) and Sami Tamimi (from Arab East Jerusalem). Chicken With Caramelized Onions & Cardamom Rice is one-pot comfort food. Ten Speed Press, $35.
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Writer and world traveler Naomi Duguid brings an unfamiliar country and cuisine alive in my kitchen. The food has known components (Thai, Chinese, Indian) layered in simple, unexpected ways. Peas [i.e., legumes] for Many Occasions is my new weekly staple. Artisan, $35.
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"Flour Water Salt Yeast"
Portland, Oregon-based baker Ken Forkish may make the best croissants in America, which is why I chose this book as my bread-baking primer. A toasted slice of Saturday 75% Whole Wheat Bread is my daily coffee's new (butter-slathered) partner. Ten Speed Press, $35.
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"Gran Cocina Latina"
Scholar-chef-restaurateur Maricel Presilla traces the cultural and culinary history of Latin America with beautifully written and researched recipes. I can't get enough of her empanadas, especially the Big- Bellied Argentinean Beef Empanadas. W.W. Norton, $45.
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"The Hakka Cookbook"
The rustic Hakka cooking of central China has sustained multiple migrations all over the world. Veteran food editor Linda Lau Anusasananan finds how far the cuisine has traveled, with dishes like Hakka Soup Noodles, from Jamaica. University of California Press, $40.
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"Japanese Farm Food"
This personal tale of love and food is told by Californian Nancy Singleton Hachisu, who married a farmer in rural Japan 20-plus years ago. The Smashed Cucumber Pickles with Garlic are delicious with Simmered Kabocha as well as a grilled steak. Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35.
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"The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook"
I can't go to Seattle without dropping in at chef-restaurateur Tom Douglas's Dahlia Bakery for some of his sweet or savory pies, cookies, and tarts. Being able to make his peerless Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie at home saves me the trip. William Morrow, $35.