There’s no tastier way to explore history and culture than through the tapestry of cuisine. Before the era of pinning recipes to digital Pinterest boards and liking viral TikToks, Black cookbooks were passed down.
It’s time to bring back physical cookbooks, and there’s no better starting point than one of these by Black chefs. They can be passed down or serve as the cherry on top of your home decor. They feature striking images of ripe vegetables, fresh fruit, cajun spices and more. Those photos embed your space with flavor almost as rich as the recipes within the pages.
These Black cookbooks further prove that Black food is not a monolith. Black culture’s experiences that shape even what we set out on the table.
Whether you’re the ultimate foodie, transitioning to a cooking enthusiast, or just beginning your journey, you are sure to find recipes in these books that will nourish your body and soul. They also will imbue your space with added flair.
Between Harlem and Heaven
Food truly transcends borders, and this cookbook exemplifies how food influences crossover. Winner of the James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook, Alexander Smalls joined with JJ Johnson to present 100 dishes that lie within the intersection of the Asian and African diaspora. They refer to the cuisine as the “Afro-Asian flavor profile.” Together, they spearhead the kitchens of two notable Harlem restaurants, The Cecil and Minton’s. Through recipes from grilled watermelon salad with lime mango dressing and cornbread croutons to creamy macaroni and cheese casserole with rosemary and caramelized shallots, this collection offers delicious dishes birthed out of Harlem’s cultural renaissance.
Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook
This acclaimed cookbook by award-winning journalist Toni Tipton-Martin mixes the past with the present through a collection of recipes that satiate historical curiosity and culinary cravings. The recipes contained in these pages explore African-American cuisine, with excerpts dating as far back as 1881. The most classic recipes are resurrected with new life. You’ll inherit recipes for sweet potato biscuits, bourbon and apple hot toddies, and baked ham glazed with champagne. Appropriately titled “Jubilee,” this cookbook is as much a celebration of African-American heritage as it is a celebration of food.
Homage: Recipes and Stories from an Amish Soul Food Kitchen
Similar to its title, this cookbook by Top Chef alumnus Chris Scott reverences his family’s history through dishes and stories spanning seven generations. From enslaved ancestors to his childhood upbringing in Amish country, Scott guides cooks through the Amish soul food through vivid photography, enriched with history and bursting with flavorful meals. Lemonade buttermilk fried chicken, dandelion wine, hot-pepper sauce watermelon salad and brown sugar buttermilk biscuits are a taste of what you can expect from this cookbook.
In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean
There’s a reason for the saying, “like grandma used to make,” because no one makes it quite like grandma. Hence the title of this cookbook, “Bibis” which translates to grandmother. This cookbook invites you to take a seat at eight East African grandmother’s tables. Somali chef Hawa Hassan and food writer Julia Turshen present 75 recipes from the bibis of South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea. Gain a new perspective on these locations and understand their cultural significance through the women behind recipes like Ajemi bread with carrots and green pepper.
Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking for Yourself
You don’t need a house full of people to treat yourself to fine dining. It may be difficult to pair down some of your traditional recipes to a single serving, but thankfully, chef Klancy Miller is here to help. No more eating the same meal for three days straight due to excessive leftovers. This book includes 100 recipes that don’t sacrifice flavor or downgrade the complexities of a dish simply because you’re at a table for one. Get ready to cherish every bite of your “Lamb I Love You: Chops” and other tasty dishes.
Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland
Taste the flavor of the Bay Area through this cookbook penned by the Owner of the beloved Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurant, located in the heart of West Oakland. Here, Holland shares 86 recipes that allow you to re-create some of the restaurant favorites at home. The recipes are straightforward, lively, and richly textured, much like the people who inhabit the West Oakland community. From a thick shrimp gumbo to a mouthwatering and highly celebrated macaroni and cheese, you’ll cook your way through some of the best dishes the San Francisco Bay Area food scene has to offer.
Caribbean Vegan: Plant-Based, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Authentic Island Cuisine for Every Occasion
If you can’t escape to the Caribbean right now, this cookbook can allow you to experience its flavors. Barbadian chef Taymer Mason shares 75 recipes, including Caribbean sushi, ginger-kissed jam-filled beignets, and papaya chia smoothie bowl. Mason’s creations are influenced by a mix of African, French, Asian and Spanish influences combined with the local flavors of Barbados, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and more.
Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul
Plant-based foods meet southern comfort in this cookbook by Atlanta-born chef Jenné Claiborne. Now based in New York City, Claiborne has spent years tweaking recipes to prove that vegans can enjoy their favorite soul foods. Dishes, such as bootylicious gumbo, jalapeño hush puppies, sweet potato cinnamon rolls, and ginger-kissed fruit cobblers, are just a few of the meals that grace these pages. You can still have food that’s healthy, hearty, soulful and delicious with these recipes.
Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes
Award-winning chef and food justice activist Bryant Terry introduces you to new ways to use vegetables, grains, and legumes through 100 simple vegan recipes. Meat lovers will fawn over recipes, like millet roux mushroom gumbo or the citrus and garlic herb-braised fennel. These recipes don’t need meat substitutions and will help you make meals that utilize fresh ingredients. You’ll learn how to assemble flavors to elevate your cooking. If that wasn’t enough, the book also comes with a curated playlist to help set the vibe.
Justice of the Pies: Sweet and Savory Pies, Quiches, and Tarts plus Inspirational Stories from Exceptional People: A Baking Book
In 2014, chef Maya-Camille Broussard opened her Chicago bakery Justice of the Pies in memory of her late father, an attorney who loved anything in a crust. In this cookbook, she shares more than 80 recipes of sweet and savory pies and other creations, including toppings, sides, and 12 different crust recipes. This cookbook might influence you to do more than cook after reading about some of the remarkable individuals who inspired the recipes.
The New Way to Cake: Simple Recipes with Exceptional Flavor
Impress your family and friends with a cake as beautiful as it is delicious. A fan favorite from “The Great British Bake Off,” Benjamina Ebuehi shares her love of flavor with 60 mouthwatering cake recipes. With six categories to choose from, you’re sure to find a cake for any occasion packed with fragrant spices, bold herbs, toasted nuts and ripe fruit. As the book states, “You can’t go wrong with cake.” Ebuehi’s unforgettable recipes will make sure that you never will.
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by Stephanie Taylor | January 20, 2023
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