Sally Schneider admits that she eats carefully most of the time and indulgently only on occasion, but in either case, she always eats well. This longtime F&W contributor intensifies the flavor of her ingredients so ingeniously that her recipes scream delicious before they whisper healthy. Her superhefty A New Way to Cook ($40), 10 years in the making, is generous in explaining the details of basic processes that most cookbooks skip over. That's because, whether she's caramelizing vegetables, grating a powerhouse hard cheese over a dish at the last minute for maximum impact or imparting instant smokiness with Lapsang souchong ground to a talc-fine powder, technique is at the core of her strategies for building flavor and cutting fat. Many of her ideas are reworkings of dishes encountered on her travels around the Mediterranean; others are inspired by the French classics she adores. The book boasts some 600 recipes, but with all of Schneider's suggestions for variations, there are probably more than 4,000 dishes to try here. Just her chapters on flavor catalysts--rubs, marinades, dressings and so on--could keep me happy in the kitchen for the next five years.

--Tina Ujlaki