With the changing of the seasons, it’s time to get back to braises (and roast veg, pasta, and exceptional curries). These new cookbooks are here to bring us back to the table—together. They also make excellent holiday and hostess gifts.

Clockwise from top left: Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking from the Beloved Greenwich Village Restaurant, by Jody Williams and Rita Sodi; the authors; insalata verde.

Christmas came early, in the form of Jody Williams and Rita Sodi’s Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking from the Beloved Greenwich Village Restaurant, written with Anna Kovel (Knopf, $40), and it looks like we got everything we wanted. The recipe for their famous insalata verde is here, and while you might not have the patience to Jenga the feathery tower leaf by leaf, it is perfect. You’ll also find such favorites as favas with escarole and mint, fried rabbit, svizzerina (their answer to a burger), and olive-oil panna cotta. To be honest, such complete wish fulfillment is overwhelming. Where to begin?! The recipes are as crisp, correct, and personal as the restaurant’s décor, and cooking them might take you less time than getting a table.

Clockwise from top left: The River Cafe Look Book: Recipes for Kids of All Ages, by Ruth Rogers, Sian Wyn Owen, and Joseph Trivelli; Rogers; almond meringue with strawberries.

Jody Williams is such a confident cook, I once watched her serve ribollita to my friend Ruth Rogers, the co-founder of London’s celebrated River Cafe, without breaking a sweat. Rogers, the American-born chef, and her partner, the late Rose Gray, re-framed Italian cooking when they opened in 1987. Their seasonal, regional food seems simple enough to tackle at home, and the enduring popularity of their cookbooks is proof of that perception. In The River Cafe Look Book: Recipes for Kids of All Ages (Phaidon, $34.95), the “all ages” clause is key: this artful book, written with longtime executive chefs Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli, guides young cooks through more than 50 easy-to-make recipes, but it’s also a visual feast for their design-leaning dishwashers. Photographer Matthew Donaldson pairs the photograph for each dish with an image from his art practice, to delightful effect. The golden bubbles and pocks of focaccia are cheekily counterbalanced by a run-over tote bag. And so on, from carbonara to crostata. The colorful book is a master class in graphic joy, to say nothing of what will happen in your kitchen.

Clockwise from top left: Rambutan: Recipes from Sri Lanka, by Cynthia Shanmugalingham; the author; coconut dal with kale.

Vibrating colors and vibrant flavors also make Rambutan: Recipes from Sri Lanka (Bloomsbury, $35) this season’s passport to culinary discovery. As the British–Sri Lankan cook Cynthia Shanmugalingam writes, Sri Lankan food is not Indian food. Rather, it combines Malay, Javanese, Arab, Indian, African, Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences that came to the island with Tamil and Sinhalese. In short: a flavor portal. The author captures the island’s “culinary songbook” in bright prose, with food and travel photography so seductive, my seatmate on a recent flight was looking over my shoulder as I scrolled through the digital galley. These are flavors you’ll want to share, from prawn-and-tamarind curry to black pork-belly curry, with lacy curry-leaf rava dosas alongside for the sopping up.

Clockwise from top left: Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West; braised chicken thighs; coconut creamed dinosaur kale.

As Alice Walker writes in her foreword to Tanya Hollands California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West (Ten Speed Press, $35), “It will be a challenge to read this cookbook without shedding a tear. It is that radical. That profound.” Holland’s French-cooking-school roots honor the recipes of her Southern ancestors through the seasonal lens of California produce. The dinner-party-inducing recipes are interspersed with exquisite landscape photography and stories about the Black purveyors at the heart of her restaurants. And so a recipe for a fried-artichoke po’ boy precedes a profile of the winemaker at Sonoma’s Vision Cellars, while a grilled rack of lamb with collard-almond pesto cues up a story about the men behind Compton Farms USA, who hope that their pastured meats will help shift the food inequities in their community. In this new classic, it’s all of a beautiful piece.

Clockwise from top left: The Woks of Life, by Bill, Judy, Sarah, and Kaitlin Leung; the authors; homestyle tofu.

The Leung family is sufficiently food-obsessed that they started a blog to chronicle their exploration of Chinese food, from what parents Bill and Judy grew up eating in the Catskills in the 1960s and 1970s to their forays into Flushing, Queens, with their daughters Kaitlin and Sarah. Their cookbook, The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love from a Chinese American Family (Clarkson Potter, $35), wears its seriousness lightly. The Leungs cheerfully steer you through tackling dim sum favorites (siu mai! radish cake!) and on into glossy char siu roast pork, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, mapo tofu, and a jar of ultimate chili oil that—just saying—would make excellent holiday gifts. QR codes lead you to the blog for sub-recipes and tips, a welcome new dimension in cookbookery.

Clockwise from top left: Cooking with Mushrooms, by Andrea Gentl; the author; mushroom parm.

Mushrooms, as we know, are having a moment. For the celebrated food photographer Andrea Gentl, they’ve been a focus since she began foraging for them in childhood. Her richly photographed tribute, Cooking with Mushrooms: A Fungi Lovers Guide to the Worlds Most Versatile, Flavorful, Health-Boosting Ingredients (Artisan, $30), is for the high-thread-count hippie on your list. Both a graceful guide and a mind-opening recipe resource, Gentl will make you see mushrooms in a (golden) new light. Recipes elegantly span comfort-giving and wellness-forward, be it a wine-dark bourguignon, a crispy shiitake “bacon” wedge salad, minty healing chicken broth, or ’shroomy nut-butter chocolate-chunk cookies. Her recipes for mushroom powders, broths, crackers, and miso will enhance your pantry—and your health. This book will make you want to do more than micro-dose.

To hear Christine Muhlke reveal more about her story, listen to her on AIR MAIL’s Morning Meeting podcast

Christine Muhlke, a former editor for The New York Times and Bon Appétit, is a co-author of Wine Simple, with Le Bernardin’s Aldo Sohm, and a co-author of Phaidon’s Signature Dishes That Matter. She is also the founder of culinary consultancy Bureau X and creator of the Xtine newsletter