As much as Americans love their food, they seem to enjoy it best with a dash of television celebrity.
Cookbooks from Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Sara Moulton, Cat Cora and Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn hit the shelves this year.
And just in time for the holidays, big guns Rachael Ray, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Nigella Lawson, Alton Brown and Jamie Oliver will have new cookbooks to add to their growing catalogs and your groaning shelves. Even Jessica Seinfeld, enjoying the residual fame of being married to TV icon Jerry, has a new cookbook that guides busy parents through the minefield of dinner. Remember her controversial 2008 cookbook about sneaking pureed vegetables into kids' meals?
Oh, there are lots of other cookbooks being published this fall, but none are likely to do as well as those written by people with familiar names.
Here's a roundup of TV celebrity-chef cookbooks already published and a list of those coming out soon.
Times staff and Associated Press
. Mario Batali
and Mark Ladner
book: Molto Gusto (Ecco, 2010)
Super chef Mario Batali's Molto Gusto offers up perfect suppers and ideas for casual entertaining. Fava beans straight from the farmers market pair with zesty lemon and ricotta, and cherry tomatoes meet creme fraiche in elegant antipasti, most of which can be made well ahead of time.
An entire chapter on pizza will please obsessives with its promises of a crisp yet pliant crust, and cooks who live on pasta will find a quick but satisfying meal in egg-bathed penne alla papalina (Recipe, 6E).
True to Batali's signature emphasis on fresh, wholesome food, most recipes apply simple techniques to a handful of well-chosen ingredients. Bright, white-background photos of the dishes, redolent in greens and reds and purples, let you eat first with your eyes. A great book for anyone who likes good food without the fuss.
. Emeril Lagasse
BOOk: Farm to Fork (Harper Studio, 2010)
You know eating local has gone mainstream when Emeril Lagasse is leaning on a garden tool. In Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh, the king of "Bam!" sniffs herbs and caresses tomatoes. Recipes for corn fritters and escarole soup with crushed red pepper promise good eating. Pumpkin pie gets extra mystique from a dash of cardamom. But despite the book's handwriting font and a few enticing dishes — lemon-crusted halibut? Yum! — nothing really screams fresh-from-the-farm. See Page 6E for one of the recipes.
. Sara Moulton
Book: Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners (Simon and Schuster, 2010)
The former executive chef of the defunct Gourmet magazine and an original Food Network show host offers tempting dishes like eggs and creamed spinach in phyllo cups, tandoori chicken wings and appetizers like chorizo-stuffed mushrooms and panko-crusted scallops.
But the eggs require more than a half-dozen steps, including buttering phyllo. The chicken wings have to marinate for 8 to 10 hours. And scrumptious as the appetizers sound, I don't know any working mom or dad who's going to dish up three or four of them to "dazzle one and all with the variety," as Moulton suggests. A lovely collection of recipes, but very few that you're likely to tackle on a weekday. Still, worth trying when you have more time.
. Cat Cora
with Ann Krueger Spivack
Book: Cat Cora's Classics With a Twist (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010)
Tex-Mex tuna casserole could happen on any given Wednesday. The salsa-and-cilantro-spiked staple joins other simple, out-of-the-box ideas in Cat Cora's Classics With a Twist. The first and only female Iron Chef America winner puts a fresh spin on old favorites while keeping things simple.
Greek-style nachos feature pita chips, olives and yogurt, and clam chowder gets glammed up with bacon and sweet potatoes. But the book's crowning achievement? It's got to be tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons. Like self-adhesive stamps, it makes you wonder why no one thought of it sooner.
. Spike Mendelsohn with Micheline Mendelsohn
Book: The Good Stuff Cookbook (Wiley, 2010)
Top Chef veteran Spike Mendelsohn reveals the secrets of his Washington eatery, where Capitol Hill staffers line up well before noon to score his farmhouse burgers made with local beef, rosemary-sprinkled fries and toasted marshmallow milkshakes.
Good Stuff sauce — a twist on Thousand Island dressing — shares the pages with chipotle pesto, Old Bay mayonnaise and other burger-enhancing accoutrements. There's a salad chapter, if you care. And how do you make a burger even better? "Add cheese, add bacon," says Spike. A man who understands.