“What should I make for dinner?” To answer that perpetual quandary, the editors of Food Network Magazine spent 606 hours cooking and consumed 225,000 calories taste-testing. The result, Food Network Magazine Great Easy Meals, was well worth their effort and will make your everyday dinner efforts a breeze. Every single recipe is served up with a full-color photograph, and the standard table of contents is followed by stamp-sized photos of each dish within each chapter. When you check out the Soups & Stews, you might be taken with the mint-spiked, golden-hued Thai Corn Chowder. Then, when you flip to the recipe, you’ll see suggestions for using any leftover mint in other recipes. If Spinach-Orzo Salad with Shrimp, one-pan Skillet Lasagna or Pork and Fennel Ragoût is right for tonight, you’ll find three ideas for sides right on the recipe pages. I was really impressed with the 50 nifty 10-Minute Desserts, especially the creamy Peanut Butter-Banana Mousse and the Pears with Chocolate Sauce. Open the book, take a look, then cook.

Can a boy from Berkeley trained in French haute cuisine, with a “Californian’s penchant for idiosyncratic cooking philosophy,” create earthy Italian food? If that boy is Jonathan Waxman, renowned chef-owner of Manhattan’s iconic Italian brasserie Barbuto and star of TV’s “Top Chef Masters,” the answer is a resounding “Sì, certo!” Italian, My Way is Waxman’s take on la cucina Italiana, with over 120 recipes inspired by the dishes he’s created for Barbuto. A champion of simplicity and a cook with strong opinions, Waxman combines authenticity with innovative flair—Italian with a California accent. Wild Arugula tossed with good olive oil and topped with shaved Parmesan is superbly simple. Mussels are oven-roasted and perked up with red chilies and cilantro. Perfect risotto, guaranteed if you follow Waxman’s “treasured tips,” is adorned with sweet peas and pea shoots. His version of Spaghetti alla Carbonara, made with only guanciale, egg yolks, olive oil and Parmesan, is velvety perfection. Leg of Lamb Braised for Seven Hours, great for a party, needs only a little tending while it cooks, and Waxman’s Tiramisù is a triumph.

Andrea Reusing’s Cooking in the Moment is the latest entry in the ever-growing genre of cookbooks dedicated to fresh, local, seasonal cooking. Reusing, chef-owner of the award-winning Lantern restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is a true believer in eating locally, reveling in what’s fresh and fabulous as the year moves through its cycle. She sees seasonality as a reason to celebrate each season, rather than a limitation. And celebrate she does in 130 recipes that are a mix of childhood favorites, quick-to-make standbys and party favorites for a crowd—as simple as Broiled Ripe Figs with Warm Ricotta and Honey, as sophisticated as Roast Moulard Duck with Kumquats and Salt-cured Chilies. Reusing’s charming vignettes put readers in the midst of her moments, from the joys of spring’s first jade-green broccoli, to salt-marinating ripe summer vegetables, to making her grandmother’s savory, snow-day-perfect Pot Roast with Gravy. Her enthusiasm is infectious, her approach, inviting. 

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