Bobby Flay invites the best cooks across America to a TV cook-off. Local cooking heroes renowned for a special dish may think that the Food Network is there to shoot a profile of their particular prowess—until Bobby “the Bold” shows up and challenges them to a “Throwdown,” wherein the peripatetic chef, restaurateur and Food Network star offers his take on the local master’s signature dish. Both variations are judged and a winner named. Bobby Flay’s Throwdown! is billed as “the ultimate companion cookbook,” but even if you just want the fun of considering one dish from two different angles, this is a trove of winning recipes. Flay isn’t looking for the exotic or the ultra-raffiné; what you’ll find, from Cheesesteak to Chocolate Bread Pudding, Meatloaf to Matzoh Ball Soup, are the beloved basics of our wonderfully multicultural American cuisine. Regional favorites vie with ethnic-accented mainstays—Chicken Cacciatore, Red Chili, Cuban Roast Pork, Seafood Gumbo, Steak Fajitas, Pumpkin Pie and more—every one the best of the best!

CHANGING THE EQUATION
Mark Bittman, renowned food writer and author of many award-winning cookbooks, has changed the way he eats, cooks and thinks about food and encourages his readers to do the same in The Food Matters Cookbook. Bittman has a very flexible, relaxed, Pollan-esque approach to a plant-heavy, processed food-light diet (spelled out in more detail in his 2009 book Food Matters), that may well inspire you  to alter your own eating habits. I can’t guarantee you’ll “lose weight and heal the planet,” as his subtitle proclaims, but you will definitely find a super source of 500 “less-meatarian” recipes that invite you to consider grains, veggies and legumes as the core of your daily meals, with animal products as treasured enhancements and treats. The appetizers alone, from raw Beet Tartare to Hummus Pancakes, will keep you quite happy. Add the sensational soups and salads, but save room for the full-flavored mains, like Cassoulet with Lots of Vegetables and Pork Stew with Green Beans and Oregano, and sweets such as Mango Crisp and Coconut Flan.

COOKBOOK OF THE MONTH
Fans and followers of Dorie Greenspan, food writer and cookbook author extraordinaire, usually think of her as the doyenne of desserts and high priestess of pastry. But her latest oeuvre, Around My French Table, offers proof positive—with over 300 recipes—that her culinary talents are limitless. There are a lot of big, impressive cookbooks coming out this fall, but Dorie’s invitation to sit at her French table is one of the most appealing of all. It’s not just that the recipes, from nibbles and hors d’oeuvres to mains and grains, salads, soups, starters and sweets, are unfussily fabulous and charmingly introduced; it’s that Dorie has infused them all with her unqualified love of France and its food, new and traditional, simple and complex. Gathered over her years of living and traveling in France, every recipe, from feather-light Gougères, smooth, sophisticated Chestnut-Pear Soup, timeless Veal Marengo and classic Moules Marinière to Honey-Spiced Madeleines and Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse, has serving and storing tips and the kind of thorough instructions that support and inspire. C’est magnifique! 

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