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Books We Love: Cookbook edition

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Whether you're a seasoned cook, so to speak, or simply trying to get by in the kitchen, the holidays present a good time to try to take up a new cookbook and try out some recipes. NPR's Books We Love has a lot of recommendations for you from our staff and contributors. Four of them take us around the world with cookbooks that they enjoyed this year, beginning with Wynne Davis of NPR's All Things Considered.

WYNNE DAVIS, BYLINE: If you're looking to spice up your weeknight dinners, "Persiana Everyday" is a great guide. Sabrina Ghayour's goal is flavor-packed, satisfying dishes, not necessarily to make everything from scratch. From quick hits like the ultimate tuna salad, which involves zero cooking, to the pork, cilantro and scallion meatballs that are great for banh mi sandwiches, it's easy to find new favorites to add to your weekly rotation. Veggies also get a lot of love here. Ghayour's recipes are perfect for whether you're looking for a new soup to get you through winter or if you're trying to avoid turning your oven on during the summer.

MILTON GUEVARA, BYLINE: My name is Milton Guevara. I am a producer for NPR's MORNING EDITION and Up First. I'm a huge fan of the book "Masa: Techniques, Recipes And Reflections On A Timeless Staple." It's by Jorge Gaviria. He considers masa to be one of the greatest human achievements. And that makes sense. Entire civilizations were made possible in part because of it. Masa is the Spanish word for dough, which is made from ground corn. It's what's used in tacos, tamales, pupusas and so much more. The book "Masa" is a deep dive into almost everything you need to know about this ancient staple - its history, science, techniques and, of course, recipes. After reading this book, I have to agree - masa is an underrated miracle.

ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: Hi, I'm Anastasia Tsioulcas. I'm a correspondent on NPR's culture desk. And one of my favorite books this year is Michael W. Twitty's "Koshersoul." Twitty explores what it means to be Black and to be Jewish and to be the inheritor of two diaspora traditions - both the African Atlantic experience and part of the Jewish community. And he delves into what it means to move through the world with that kind of multiconsciousness. And just as in his last wonderful and also deeply researched book, "The Cooking Gene," there are some great recipes in "Koshersoul." And here's a taste - Twitty's spring rolls, which are pastrami and collards, fried in egg roll wrappers and zested up with ginger, garlic and sesame oil. It's like umami heaven.

JANET WOOJEONG LEE, BYLINE: Hello there. My name is Janet Woojeong Lee, and I'm a producer on the education desk. The book I want to recommend to everyone this holiday season is "The Woks Of Life: Recipes To Know And Love From A Chinese American Family: A Cookbook." It's the debut cookbook from the Leung family. They run the Woks of Life blog that launched in 2013. I would say it's a really good Chinese American cookbook for both nerds and newbies. So there are some more intense restaurant-style recipes like siu mai or biangbiang noodles. And then for folks like me, there's quick stir-fry recipes or even things like how to make really good rice, which will make a huge difference to your meal. But more than anything, it's a story of them coming from China and learning to live together in the United States and living really in between the two countries, and all of that told through food.

SIMON: You heard about "The Woks Of Life," "Koshersoul," "Masa" and "Persiana Everyday." And for more cookbook ideas, you can scroll over to our Books We Love list at npr.org/bestbooks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
Janet W. Lee
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