This summer’s harvest of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks was beyond ample—so good, in fact, that one might begin to think we’re becoming “America the meatless.” Vegetarian Cooking: At Home with The Culinary Institute of America, the CIA’s contribution to this bumper crop, stands out. This prestigious culinary academy’s take on making meatless meals at home expertly covers all the bases—equipment, ingredients, techniques and, most importantly, detailed instructions. Whether you’re a full-fledged veg or just want to decrease the amount of meat you consume, you’ll find a full array of delicious dishes starting with starters and moving through soups, sides, salads and sandwiches. A chapter on protein-providing entrees features flavorful ways to use beans, tofu, tempeh and seitan. Grains, pasta and dumplings get their due, too, as do a variety of veggies, stuffed, strudeled and in savory stews and casseroles. Viva vegetarian variety!

Summer may be on its way out, but most devoted grillers have no intention of shutting their fires down. And that certainly includes Adam Perry Lang, an American chef trained in the upper echelons of haute cuisine who approaches BBQ in revolutionary, inventive ways. He’s taken one of our greatest culinary legacies and used it as a springboard for refining, concentrating and reassembling traditional flavors. You could think of him as a BBQ deconstructionist; he’s thought long and hard about the “folkways of barbeque,” then applied the lessons of classic cuisine to construct a new, “powerful taste narrative.” So, if you’re ready to take your grilling to a brilliantly bold new level, Lang’s Charred & Scruffed may be your new BBQ bible, with chapter and verse on breakthrough techniques, superlative seasonings and innovative recipes. Caveat coquus: This is serious meat meets fire, not for the newbie novice.

Back to school, back to work, back to reality: For mothers and others, September can signal stepped-up stress and super-busy days when getting a good dinner on the table seems just out of reach. Time for “mother’s little helper”? Don’t go for the yellow pill immortalized by the Rolling Stones, try the far more practical slow-cooker solution, accompanied by Deborah Schneider’s equally practical new cookbook, The Mexican Slow Cooker. It’s a winning combo. So much of what we love about the Mexican kitchen are dishes cooked in a simple olla or pot that simmers slowly on the back of the stove—just think of Sopa Azteca with its easy garnishes, Pork Chile Verde, Carnitas and Arroz Mexicana. These Mexican marvels, and more, translate perfectly to slow-cooker prep, as do fabulous fillings for tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Some ingredients need to be browned and the chiles should be charred to give them a true Mexican accent, but once everything is in the cooker, it will work its magic and all you’ll have to do is accept the “Olés.”

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