Disclaimer: We haven't systematically tested these recipes in a kitchen. But we did read them while munching on slices from DiFara.
One Spice, Two Spice: American Food, Indian Flavors
Author: Tabla's Floyd Cardoz
Tabla's Indian fusion cooking has been hailed as brilliant, and the restaurant's adventurous spirit suffuses this book, the first one we've read that actually explains the mysteries of masalas.
Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
Author: Aquavit's Marcus Samuelsson, et al
Given how sleek and ultramodern Samuelsson's cooking is at Aquavit, you might be surprised by the African focus here. Like Cardoz's book, it's a great introduction to a cuisine you may not know very much about.
Charlie Palmer's Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen
Author: Aureole's Charlie Palmer
Palmer hasn't been a major local presence in a while, but he's created one of the most useful cookbooks ever put out by a New York chef. The advice on tools and knifes is especially helpful, and the entire thing is waterproof to boot.
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
Author: Amy Sedaris
This guide to throwing wacky dinner parties is pure comic gold, as you might expect. But what's surprising is that the recipes in it are actually really good. Sedaris has had an informal catering business on the side for years, and she even used to sell her cupcakes and cheeseballs at some of her downtown plays. (Check out our recent profile of Amy.)
Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine
Author: Daniel's Daniel Boulud, with Melissa Clark
Boulud is the master of slow-cooking, and he displays his virtuosity here with little in the way of theory, anecdote, or chefly patter. (For that, we recommend Letters to a Young Chef, his previous book.) All of the recipes are excellent, but the traditional French ones, like flatiron steak braised in red wine, stand out.