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From vegetarian classics to a deep dive into Spanish cured meats—plus tempting treats and more—there’s something for everyone

By Beth Saulnier

Cookbooks are a tried and true (and tasty!) gift idea at the holidays and year ’round—a way to give that special person on your list a window into a new genre of cuisine, or a trove of recipes in a type of food they already love.

And if that cookbook was penned by a fellow Cornellian? Even better!

Here, roughly grouped by type, is a (not comprehensive) roundup of more than a dozen cookbooks written by Big Red alums—some recent releases, others classics that have inspired generations of home chefs.


The cover of Moosewood Cookbook

Moosewood Cookbook

Mollie Katzen ’72

Arguably the original vegetarian food bible, this classic cookbook sprang from the beloved restaurant that’s still operating in Ithaca’s historic Dewitt Mall. Inducted into the James Beard Award Cookbook Hall of Fame, it has been released in various editions over the years; the current one is a 40th anniversary version, published in 2014.

As in its sequel, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, the recipes are illustrated not with photographs but with Katzen’s endearing line drawings.

Recipes—from cardamom coffee cake to calzones—are divided into soups, salads, sauces and dips, “baked things and sandwiches,” entrees, and desserts.

The Moosewood Collective (no longer including Katzen, but with other alums in the mix) has since published myriad other titles, including 2013’s Moosewood Restaurant Favorites: The 250 Most-Requested, Naturally Delicious Recipes from One of America’s Best-Loved Restaurants.

Cabbagetown Café Cookbook

Julie Jordan ’71

Something of a spiritual sibling to Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, this 1986 volume also traces its roots to a beloved Ithaca restaurant—the long-closed and much-missed café of the title, which operated on Eddy Street from the 1970s to the ’90s.

Jordan previously published the cookbook Wings of Life, named for the restaurant’s signature salad—a beloved local delicacy that featured (among other ingredients) marinated tofu, brown rice, cooked broccoli, and nuts.

The cover of The Cabbagetown Café Cookbook

Says Publishers Weekly of Cabbagetown Café Cookbook: “This collection of the café’s specialties—including appetizers, breads, salads and dressings, soups, pasta, pizza, quiches, stir-fries, Mexican, Indian, and Sunday-brunch dishes, and desserts—will spark appetites, even of those folk who never went to Cornell.”

International & Fusion

The cover of Double Awesome Chinese Food

Double Awesome Chinese Food

Irene Li ’12, BA ’15

For five years in a row (2015–19), the Arts & Sciences alum was a semifinalist for the “rising star chef” award from the James Beard Foundation. In 2022, it recognized her with its Leadership Award—given to “visionaries for their work in creating a better food world.”

Li’s 2019 cookbook, coauthored with her siblings, is subtitled Irresistible and Totally Achievable Recipes from Our Chinese-American Kitchen.

Some of its dishes were on the menu at Mei Mei, their award-winning Boston-area food truck and (later) restaurant that has since evolved into a dumpling factory and classroom space. Its more than 100 recipes include the “Double Awesome” of the title: scallion pancakes wrapped around two “oozy” eggs, cheddar, and pesto.

There’s also cranberry sweet and sour stir-fried pork, red curry Frito pie, and much more—including instructions on how to make your own dumplings.

Simply Ming

Ming Tsai, MPS ’89

Tsai rose to fame in the late 1990s with the Food Network show “East Meets West” and the celebrated Boston-area restaurant Blue Ginger.

He has authored several cookbooks including this one, which takes its name from another of his TV shows (on PBS).

Subtitled Easy Techniques for East-Meets-West Meals, it features dishes that can be made in less than 30 minutes.

The cover of Simply Ming

They include tea-rubbed salmon with steamed scallion-lemon rice; grilled miso-citrus scallop “lollipops”; and green peppercorn beef tenderloin with vinegar-glazed leeks. There are also elevated takes on classic meals including Asian pesto turkey spaghetti, salmon burgers with tomato-kaffir lime salsa, and soy-Dijon chicken wings.

Also the creator of the “Ming’s Bings” line of frozen gluten-free wraps, Tsai has penned other cookbooks including Blue Ginger and Simply Ming One-Pot Meals.

The cover of Cúrate


Katie Button ’05

Trained under the celebrity chef and humanitarian activist José Andrés, Button runs one of the nation’s most celebrated Spanish restaurants: Cúrate in Asheville, NC.

Her 2016 cookbook, named for the eatery, boasts 125 recipes ranging from the traditional, like tortilla Española and paella (including a vegetarian version), to her own creations, such as fried pork chops stuffed with ham and cheese, or ribeye steak with blue cheese sauce.

And there are a number of tempting sweets and libations, including frozen meringue with candied almonds and Grand Marnier; almond cake with cream sherry and brandy; and Button’s take on the “perfect” gin and tonic.

 “As a Spanish chef in America, I am so jealous of this book,” says Andrés in a blurb. “Nobody embraces Spain in the heart of America with more poetry, passion, and perfection than Katie.”


Jeffrey Weiss ’10

Weiss’s Las Vegas restaurant, Valencian Gold, has appeared on numerous best-of lists. Nominated for a James Beard Award, this weighty (464-page) tome takes a deep dive in the Spanish tradition of cured meats.

Originally published in 2014 and now in a second edition, it features more than 100 recipes and step-by-step directions for butchering and curing meats to create dishes involving such foods as chorizo, morcilla, and jamón.

The cover of Charcutería

“Charcutería brings to life—with real heart, history, and technique—an astonishing look at the legacy of Spain’s flavorful meats,” says chef José Andrés in a foreword. “This book perfectly marries the necessary techniques of brining, salting, fermenting, and drying with the exceptional stories of Spain’s particular animals ... It connects the past to the present.”

For Younger Cooks

The cover of Teen Baking Bootcamp

Teen Baking Bootcamp

Matthew Merril ’26

Currently a junior in the Hotel school, Merril has 2.6 million followers on TikTok and has appeared on such Food Network competitions as “Kids Baking Championship,” “Chopped Junior,” and “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

His debut cookbook offers accessible and tasty recipes for young bakers, including banana bread, skillet chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin churros, peanut butter cookies, and Oreo fudge.

It also includes some more challenging ones like strawberry cheesecake, caramel cake, s’mores macarons, and Baked Alaska.

The book boasts a blurb from Duff Goldman, host of “Kids Baking Championship” and “Ace of Cakes,” who raves: “Matthew is not only a great baker but a bright and creative young man. I can’t think of anyone who could write a baking book for teens better.”

(Serious) New Cook

Leah Puidokas Quiroga ’94

Quiroga studied at the Culinary Institute of America and was a chef at Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse. Her guide won the 2023 Best Cookbook Award (in the children, youth, and family category) from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Intended for readers aged from the mid-teens to mid-twenties, it offers ambitious but doable recipes—from garlicky kale crostini to “bricked chicken” to mochi ice cream.

The cover of (Serious) New Cook

“Inexperienced cooks are often faced with choosing between beginner books teaching mundane recipes or standard cookbooks that are more enticing but also overwhelming for newcomers,” says Library Journal. “Into the mix comes this book written by chefs who are sisters, based on the food they learned to cook in their mother’s multicultural kitchen, with recipes designed to teach and inspire.”

The book also garnered praise from NPR, which opined, “This one’s well worth gifting to your 20-something, along with their first good knife.”


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The cover of Keeping It Simple

Keeping It Simple

Yasmin Fahr ’05

Fahr is a food writer and recipe developer whose résumé also includes serving as a fine-dining restaurant inspector for Forbes Travel Guide.

Her first cookbook—inspired by “One-Pot Wonders,” her former column on the website Serious Eats—offers dozens of recipes designed to serve as easy weeknight meals.

Dishes include miso-ghee chicken with roasted radishes; tomato-poached cod; curried lentils with cucumber-garlic yogurt; butternut couscous with crispy pancetta; skirt steak tacos with charred corn and spicy mayo; and lemony orzo with prawns, asparagus, and feta.

Fahr also compiles a guide to essential spices and tools, definitions of cooking terms, and tips on technique such as how to properly chop a squash and juice a lime.

Cooking Smarter

Jeremy Scheck ’22

“The author began cooking for himself in college on a shoestring budget,” notes the Christian Science Monitor. “He first posted his recipes on a blog, but when he was sent home from school [due to the COVID shutdown] in March 2020, he switched to TikTok under the handle @scheckeats. And that’s where Scheck found an eager audience of people also stuck at home with nothing to do.”

The cover of Cooking Smarter

Scheck now boasts more than 2 million TikTok followers; his debut cookbook, subtitled Friendly Recipes with a Side of Science, emphasizes simple techniques, basic equipment, and pantry-friendly ingredients, plus tips for food safety. Recipes include Coca-Cola braised brisket, mac and cheese orzo, and pretzel blondies.

Cooking Smarter is a carefully curated collection of his favorite recipes, with ideas for avoiding things like a cabinet full of one-use spices (read: waste),” says the Monitor. “And that bottle of maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes; it’s also flavoring for salad dressing, a sweetener in muffins, and a glaze for roasted vegetables.”


The cover of I Love New York

I Love New York

Will Guidara ’01

Guidara is the former co-owner of Eleven Madison Park, the NYC fine-dining establishment once named the top restaurant in the world.

At the height of the restaurant’s success, he and his partner reimagined it as a showcase for New York State produce and dishes—and in their 2013 cookbook, they contemplate the question “What is New York cuisine?”

In this ode to Empire State comestibles, they spotlight 55 growers and makers around New York (including the Finger Lakes region), with recipes featuring their products—such as meats, grains, fruits, vegetables, chocolate, honey, shellfish, and cheeses.

Publishers Weekly calls the volume—which has lush photos of both the dishes and the people and places that produce their ingredients—a “delightful cookbook and culinary guide.”

Cocktails at Dinner

Michael Turback ’66 & Julia Hastings-Black ’08, BA ’07

Two Cornellians team up for this combination cookbook and bar guide, subtitled Daring Pairings of Delicious Dishes and Enticing Mixed Drinks.

(The duo also collaborated on ReMixology: Classic Cocktails, Reconsidered and Reinvented.)

The cover of Cocktails at Dinner

The volume offers pairings of adult beverages with small plates, main dishes, and desserts—with recipes for both the foods and the drinks. There’s a Manhattan paired with duck confit; a Pisco Sour with sea bass; a Sazerac with calf sweetbreads and dumplings; a Bloody Mary with a Denver omelet; and much more.

As the authors write in their intro: “First-rate food and drinks—judiciously and harmoniously paired—become something more than the sum of their parts.”


The cover of Sugar Detox Me

Sugar Detox Me

Summer Rayne Oakes ’04

As a toddler, Oakes admits in her intro, she was so enamored of sweets that she once wound up in the ER after eating Christmas lights she’d mistaken for candy.

Now an author and model who promotes sustainability in the food and fashion industries, Oakes founded a website for people aiming to cleanse their diets of sugar.

Her cookbook offers more than 100 recipes that, she writes, “are familiar, intuitive, easy, and non-fussy, and they contain ingredients that are affordable and readily available to most of us.”

Dishes include coconut pancakes; sautéed Brussels sprouts with chorizo; scrambled eggs with kale and cremini mushrooms; and coconut and lemongrass shrimp soup with crispy gingered kale. The book also includes a 10-step detox plan, a “food addiction scale” developed at Yale, and a rundown of the many names for sugar that appear on ingredient lists.

Comfort Food Fix

Ellie Krieger ’88

The New York Times has called Krieger “a nutritionist who seems to actually love food and care about how it tastes.” A familiar face on TV, she has penned several cookbooks, including this one, subtitled Feel-Good Favorites Made Healthy.

Recipes include lighter, lower-calorie versions of chicken parm, mango-stuffed French toast, cassoulet, banana pudding, and more.

The cover of Comfort Food Fix

“Bringing sensibility to sensory pleasures, this accessible, health-minded cookbook is a welcome resource in a burger and bacon-obsessed moment,” Publishers Weekly said when it came out in 2011.

“Recognizing that there are good biological and emotional reasons why we seek out starchy, hearty, creamy dishes to sate ourselves, dietician and Food Network star Krieger … sees no reason why anyone should have to give them up wholesale. The goal, then, is to reduce fat, sodium, and sugar without sacrificing flavor.”

Baking & Desserts

The cover of Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook

Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook

Alan Rosen ’91

“This encouraging and educational book is pure gold for any aspiring cheesecake maker,” says Publishers Weekly of the volume co-authored by Rosen, grandson of the founder of Junior’s, the venerable NYC eatery known for its decadent desserts.

The 2007 cookbook features some 50 recipes for cheesecake in many flavors and variations.

They include pumpkin, tiramisu, banana fudge, lemon coconut, strawberry parfait, triple-chocolate, brownie swirl, and much more.

It also offers a primer on making cheesecake, with an entire chapter devoted to the tactics (such as baking in a water bath) and troubleshooting tips to create a perfect creamy texture and avoid cracks.

The Hotelie has co-authored two other volumes based on the family business: Junior’s Dessert Cookbook and Junior’s Home Cooking.

More Than Cake

Natasha Pickowicz ’06

A multiple James Beard Award nominee, Pickowicz is an NYC-based pastry chef with an avid following. Her debut cookbook garnered widespread praise from the food press, with nods from Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Eater, and more.

“Celebrated for her fine-dining pastry work and fundraiser bake sales,” says Vanity Fair, “Natasha Pickowicz brings a community spirit to this soulfully precise book.”

The cover of More Than Cake

Indeed, the book is subtitled 100 Baking Recipes Built for Pleasure and Community. In it, she offers instructions for such tasty (and unconventional) treats as citrusy macaroons, granola shortbread, shoyu peanut cookies, and a dramatic-looking biscotti dubbed “fennel, chocolate, and hazelnut spears”—and that’s just in the cookie section.

Raves Booklist: “Pickowicz’s melodic prose makes you want to curl up with her book, a cup of tea, and one of her pecan and black cardamom buns and revel in the originality of such outside-the-box recipes.”

The cover of The Ice Cream Sundae Book

The Ice Cream Sundae Book

Michael Turback ’66

“More than any other native dish,” Turback writes, “the ice cream sundae is a reminder of the American genius for invention.” And while other locales may lay claim as the origin for the delectable dessert, there’s a solid argument that the sundae was born at an Ithaca soda fountain in 1892.

Turback’s book is subtitled A Step-by-Step Guide to Making America’s Favorite Dessert.

And it does just that, offering recipes for whipping up a variety of sundaes including hot fudge, butterscotch, turtle, mud pie, maple walnut, and (of course) the banana split.

The former owner of an eponymous fine dining restaurant on the outskirts of Ithaca, Turback has authored numerous books on food and local culture, including Ithaca Farmers Market: A Seasonal Guide and Cookbook Celebrating the Market’s First 50 Years and Greetings from the Finger Lakes: A Food and Wine Lover’s Companion.

Top: Photo illustration by Caitlin Cook / Cornell University.

Published December 4, 2023


  1. Nanci O'Connell, Class of 1987

    You left out the cookbook by Amy Fothergill, class of 1987. The Warm Kitchen is a fabulous gluten free cookbook with unfailing recipes.

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