Imagine unfettered access to a private plane that jets you around the country to your dream list of restaurants. Add in instant access to reservations (8pm table, tomorrow? You got it), and you’re looking at the stuff culinary fantasies are made of. Manhattan for your morning bagel, Chicago for a decadent smorgasbord of meat-centric dishes, then out west for a light vegan dinner: it’s all within your reach.
The next best thing? Having it all without ever leaving home, thanks to brilliant restaurant cookbooks.
Elevate your home cooking by recreating the wildly delicious dishes that stretch (or comfort) your palate and turn your own kitchen into a slice of Brooklyn, Seattle, or Thailand (via Los Angeles). While wearing your robe.
No one can resist the smell of freshly baked bread – especially not at Jim Lahey’s New York City bakery. You can DIY the scent (and you know, the forthcoming bread) thanks to his intimidation-free no-knead method; just follow the clear instructions and stunning photography to making your own sourdough, ciabattas, capicola pizza, and more. Staying away from carbs? Probably not the book for you, though his recipe for quick-pickled fennel will seriously delight.
Take a moment of silence for Franny’s, one of Brooklyn’s most notable Italian restaurants, and a reliable Team SNOWE favorite – since it closed in 2017, we’ve yet to find a substitute for their seasonal, local approach to Italian. Luckily the 2013 cookbook, with recipes for Franny’s famous pizzas, wildly savory ramp butter, and cauliflower zeppole – as well as two full illustrated pages on “crostini technique” – help fill the void.
Anyone on top of the San Francisco restaurant scene has spent many a night at Nopalito eating too many fish tacos and sweet potato tamales (washed down with margaritas, naturally). Bring the magic home, starting with the cult-favorite house recipes like spiced peanuts and queso fresco, then work your way up to all 17 salsa recipes – or at least enough of them to ensure you never buy the jarred stuff again.
You can’t recreate the celebrity sightings at Los Angeles’ Night + Market Song at home (cough, Ryan Gosling), nor the colorful, cheerful vibe that accompanies some of the best Thai food in this country. But the sour pork bundles? Oh there’s a recipe for that. And for curried crab and crispy pig tails. But chances are you’ll spend most of your time cooking from the geniusly-titled “Using What You Have” section. Think: chicken fried rice, Thai puffy omelettes, garlic green beans. And thanks to photos by brilliant lensman and frequent SNOWE collaborator Marcus Nilsson, you might even want to keep this one on your coffee table.
If you’ve dined or drank at The Publican, Chicago’s famous restaurant that revolves around oysters, pork, and beer, you know it’s in a class all its own. Their cookbook breaks down dishes like sweetbreads with palm sugar butter, bone marrow toasts, and their famous Publican bacon – easy weeknight dinners, these are not. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth the indulgence.
Chef Bonnie Frumkin Morale is a first-generation American, and tapped her Belarusian roots to create Kachka, Portland’s ode to the vibrant, flavorful, and of course, pickled and mayonaised world of Eastern European cooking. Can’t make it to the Pacific Northwest for a taste? Try your hand at Russian cuisine at home, starting with the self-explanatory chapter on “Things Wrapped in Dough.”
Fans of Zahav, Philadelphia’s Israeli restaurant, know it’s not necessary to take a 12-hour flight just to get great shakshuka; they can rely on James Beard award-winning chef Michael Solomonov. He’s translated some of his restaurant’s best dishes into recipes that wow at dinner parties – SNOWE’s founders spent their grad school days inhaling the pomegranate molasses lamb shoulder at every chance, and they now recreate the mouth-watering dish thanks to this book. Feeling adventurous? Try the duck and foie gras kabobs or Beluga lentil soup.
The only thing you need to turn you into an accidental vegan. Born from the Seattle-based restaurant, this cookbook advises you through curious-sounding but heavenly-tasting meals like the raw lasagna with basil-walnut pesto or chimichurri seitan steaks. You won’t even miss the dairy in the robust dessert section (hi, oven-baked peaches and cream). Ready to sign on as your own personal chef? Benefits include guaranteed leftovers, a highly enviable kitchen library, and a highly developed sense of pride. The question is, what’s the first dish you take on?