The Best Cookbooks of 2015

Nowadays, in the food world, you have to ask yourself: "Who doesn't have a cookbook?" With cookbook publishing going strong, where dozens of titles are released every week, culinary tomes are becoming more complex and aesthetically pleasing. But given that so many of us are spending less time in the kitchen preparing home-cooked meals, are more of us just placing them on the coffee table for the occasional glance or conversation starter? Maybe so, but that doesn't mean there aren't people who actually want to acquire advanced cooking skills – and for those who do, we've got the list right here. While this roundup of 2015's best cookbooks does include a handful of bestsellers, it also includes ones that inspired the writer of this column. 

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science
J. Kenji López-Alt
W.W. Norton & Company

Sometimes we forget that behind all of the juicy morsels we consume on a daily basis is the scientific method. Cooking is a visceral amalgam of chemistry and physics. Written by Serious Eats' managing culinary director, J. Kenji López-Alt, this cookbook is a crash course in food science behind classic American dishes, using new and easier techniques. Of course, you can read up on the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules and its impact on your food, but López-Alt simplifies the science of these recipes through 1,000 pages of comprehensive headnotes, sidebars, backstories, chemical and biological explanations, and step-by-step photography.

Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons
Steven Satterfield

Harper Wave

Chef Steven Satterfield’s debut cookbook is not a compilation of his mouthwatering recipes from his award-winning restaurant in Atlanta, Miller Union. Instead, through the teachings of whole vegetable cooking, Satterfield invites readers to get acquainted with local farmers’ markets, foraging, and the home garden, unlocking a world of possibilities in the realm of vegetable dishes. Similar to chefs spearheading the nose-to-tail movement, Satterfield’s is a proponent of getting the most out of plants, using all edible parts, from root to leaf. Appealing to all types of eaters, the recipes found in this cookbook will allow each season’s greatest bounty to become the main feature of every meal.

NOPI: The Cookbook
YOTAM Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully
Ten Speed Press

If you’re familiar with Yotam Ottelenghi's work, you’ll know immediately that this is a restaurant cookbook, named after one of his iconic eateries in London, NOPI. And while Ottelenghi is best-known for his marrying of Middle Eastern with Mediterranean flavors, NOPI signifies a new venture in his repertoire. After all, the restaurant is where the Middle East meets the Far East, thanks to his collaboration with NOPI's Malaysian head chef, Ramael Scully. Although his restaurant cookbooks tend to have a reputation for being more difficult than others, don't let this one scare you. Different from his previous titles, which are much more welcoming to the novice in the kitchen, the average home cook can handle many of the recipes within. 

Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social Motherf*ckers
Thug Kitchen
Rodale Books

Thug Kitchen's second installment of branded cookbooks is not for the faint-hearted. If you find it hard to stick to your plant-based diet around your friends, then it's time to adopt the attitude of the makers of Thug Kitchen: f*ck it! Finally, your friends can stop giving you grief about your healthy habits with more than 100 recipes from Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social Motherf*ckers. And since Thug Kitchen won't stand for any excuses, they've created a dish for every occasion you can think of. Cocktail recipes are also included, because drinking doesn't always have to be unhealthy either.