No matter your culture or upbringing, food brings everyone in Hawai`i together. And whether these new local cookbooks inspire you to create a new dish or visit the chef’s restaurant instead, their original recipes will spice up the last moments of this long, hot summer.

Family-Style Meals at the Hali’imaile General Store, TEN SPEED PRESS

It’s all about protein in James Beard Award-nominated chef and Hawai`i Regional Cuisine co-founder Beverly Gannon’s newest recipe collection. Family Style Meals at the Hali`imaile General Store spotlights 90 dishes unusually organized just like Gannon’s childhood meal schedule—by days of the week and corresponding chief proteins (think chicken, oxtail, lobster, quail and more). Each sit-down brunch, inventive stir-fry, nouveau casserole lunch and hearty dinner menu is easy for busy home cooks to make but can be easily expanded for larger soirees. Family anecdotes sprinkled amidst illustrative photographs of island life reveal Gannon to be as down to earth as her food—cuisine she hopes will bond your family together for meals to come.

The Maui Book of Lavender, Watermark publishing

We say lavender, you think Provence. But Maui’s Ali`i Kula Lavender farm delivers this ancient herb direct to the Islands, growing 45 varieties surrounded by picturesque olive trees on high Haleakala slopes. They also collaborate with other Maui businesses to create more than 75 lavender-based products, and now they’re partnering with you through their first book. The Maui Book of Lavender tempts with 40 unexpected lavender recipes, such as lavender crab and mango spring rolls, lavender pepper shrimp, lavender-lilikoi chicken, and lavender shortbread. And when you’ve tired of cooking, they generously divulge a short history of lavender abroad and in Hawai`i, as well as non-culinary instructions for health remedies, home crafts, and even growing your very own.

What the Big Island Likes to Eat, Mutual publishing

Every Hawaiian island is unique, which is just one reason food columnist Audrey Wilson’s second cookbook focuses solely on the Big Island, from plantation and paniolo favorites to laid-back comfort food emphasizing local produce and products. What the Big Island Likes to Eat bursts at the seams with 120 recipes unlocking secrets of classic garnishes like omelet shreds, preparations like char siu, diverse cultural treats like sweet-sour lemons and traditional Japanese Sekihan, lu`au staples like palusami and chicken long rice, recipes from new chefs and old-time restaurants like Kealakekua’s Teshima store, sweet treats, and the best omiyage. With plentiful helpings of history and evocative photos to boot, it’s a delectable window into the Big Island’s culinary past and present.

The Island Plate II, Island heritage publishing

Food editor Wanda Adams dishes up a second serving of Honolulu Advertiser recipes in The Island Plate II, reduces the previous focus on history and concentrating instead on varied flavors and concoctions presented in ultra-local sections. ‘Da Kine’ has everything from Hawaiian iced tea to Portuguese pickled onion; ‘Pupu and Potluck’ is reserved for—what else?—parties; while still others corral daily island-style entrees like Alan Wong’s Poi Stew, sides like Adams’ own Rice Gone Wild, favorite sweets (think Dobash Cake and Almond cookies), and beloved restaurant recipes such as Michel’s onion soup and Yum Yum Tree’s English Toffee pie. Even as modern island history marches on, this series stays up to date with our evolving culture and taste buds.

–Originally published in the Summer 2009 Issue of Modern Luxury Hawai`i.