The (mostly) Cookbooks of Amanda Hesser

So far, Amanda's books have followed an unsual and appealing formula — a one-to-one blend of charming memoir and excellent recipes.

While her list of publications is currently short, she's currently editing a new edition of THE New York Times Cookbook, so stay tuned.


The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century

by Amanda Hesser

T. Susan Chang says:

On first sight, The Essential New York Times Cookbook looks like one of those big, basic cookbooks — it's about the size and heft of a Joy of Cooking, or Cooks Illustrated's New Best Recipe. Don't be fooled, though. This is not the book you used to give your new graduate so she could learn how to make chicken stock, or to show you where on a steer you could find the rump roast. Although some of the preliminaries (Fried Eggs! Scrambled Eggs! Poached Eggs! Plain Omelet!) are covered, Amanda Hesser's selection of recipes definitely addresses what happens when you get beyond salt, pepper and olive oil. It's not so much a "How To" as a "What's Next?" It's fascinating to see how the Times dining section answered that question — What's Next? — for 150 years. Fresh Mushrooms Stewed With Madeira (dating from 1897) still seems like a good idea, as does the forward-looking Chicken Canzanese (with prosciutto and chile and herbs) from 1969. But while the historical recipes may come off as quaint or remote, the book also acts as an unself-conscious snapshot of what people find interesting today — i.e., the expanded ingredient list, the more ethnically diverse vocabulary. Where you might have once learned to make creamed spinach, you now have Steamed Spinach With Balsamic Butter. Instead of fried pork chops, Pork Arrosto With Prunes and Grappa. Hesser's idiosyncratic and often charming voice introduces every recipe, which can be a little distracting, given that the recipes are not actually her own. That doesn't diminish the pleasure, however, of her occasional zingers, like "A good recipe may have a thousand fathers, but a bad one is an orphan."


Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times

edited by Amanda Hesser

If you like food writing (but don't want to read a cookbook), this volume is for you — a collection of 26 essays somehow relating to food, from notable writers and other notable figures (such as Ann Patchett and Tucker Carlson).


Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes

by Amanda Hesser, illustrated by Izak

Jeanee Goldberg from Lynbrook, NY says:

Following Amanda Hesser's courtship with Mr. Latte was a really fun read. Mixing love and recipes... what could be better? Ms. Hesser writes about food in the most engaging way and I loved this book.


The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings for the French Countryside

by Amanda Hesser, illustrated by Kate Gridley

This debut memoir/cookbook was nominated and/or won an absurd number of awards: the Versailles Cookbook Fair's "Best Book on France by a Non-French Writer Award", the Julia Child Award, the Gourmet Magazine Award, IACP's "Best Cookbook of the Year", the KitchenAid Book Awards, and the James Beard Foundation Awards. Structured around the 4 seasons and the 12 months, the recipes focus on the seasonal ingredients available to Hesser from the walled garden at the Chateau were she worked. If that were not enough, I'm here to tell you that it's an excellent book as well. Hesser perfectly depicts the Chateau du Fey's taciturn yet resourceful, charmingly sly peasant caretaker.