10 cookbooks for practically anyone on your gift-giving list
When I consider the Top 10 Picks, I think about who would want to receive these books as gifts, and why. Then I make my list, check it twice, and assign each cookbook to the person I believe will be delighted to find it under the tree.
I need a book to send out-of-town friends: "Glass Onion Classics: Recipes From a Southern Restaurant." Charleston's Glass Onion restaurant has gotten a lot of press, recognized by publications ranging from Saveur magazine to Everyday with Rachael Ray, but we didn't need outsiders to tell us how great the food is. Since Charles Vincent, Chris Stewart and Sarah O'Kelley opened the doors in 2008, the place has been hoppin'. The cookbook shares all the most popular recipes, from the succulent Jennie Ruth's Deviled Eggs to the sumptuous Chicken Liver Mousse and the sublime Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Interspersed are stories of purveyors and recipe namesakes. If you've been dying to know the secrets, here they are. A terrific taste of Charleston. Paperback. Available at The Glass Onion and its web store (http://ilovetheglassonion.com), Heirloom Books and Coastal Cupboard. $16.50.
I need a trendy cookbook for my newlywed niece: "The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes From Exceptional Home Cooks." Over the course of 52 weeks, home cooks competed in recipe contests at Food52.com. Topics were selected by the site's founders, journalist/author Amanda Hesser and chef/author Merrill Stubbs, who along with their team, tested and selected each week's finalists. The finalists were voted on by the readers and the resulting recipes make up the book. Just as in a community cookbook where the best a cook has to offer gets put forth, you'll find real gems from this Internet-connected crowd. Whether it be as simple as Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips or Hot Spiced Drunken Apple Cider, or as sophisticated as Arugula, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette, each recipe contains components that make them special. Hardcover. William Morrow. $35.
I need more than a cookbook for my armchair gourmet: "The Country Cooking of Italy." Co-founder and second editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine, Colman Andrews developed a style of culinary journalism in which food, photos and text combine to convey a vivid picture. Aided by the stunning photography of Christopher Hersheimer and Melissa Hamilton, Andrews applies this to regional, rural Italian cooking. He writes, "At its best, like all cuisines with modest beginnings, it respects the seasons, wastes nothing, values consistency and simplicity, and it belongs to a place." The book takes you there, from Piedmont to Puglia, and you can enjoy it by your fireside or at your kitchen stove. Hardback. Chronicle Books. $50.
I have a sister who is a vegetarian: "The Occasional Vegetarian: 100 Delicious Dishes That Put Vegetables at the Center of the Plate." Author Elaine Louie has compiled her favorite recipes from her "Temporary Vegetarian" column for The New York Times. Whether they came from chefs, cookbook authors or home cooks, and no matter of what ethnicity, they have all been adapted for the home kitchen. Listed by vegetable, from asparagus to zucchini, the recipes are seasonal and reasonably inexpensive. Examples include dishes as simple as Roasted Mushrooms with Goat Cheese and Grits and as elaborate as Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash and Apples with Candied Walnuts. This book is sure to freshen up anyone's vegetarian repertoire. Paperback. Hyperion. $18.99.
I have a foodie friend who has everything: "Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes From 20 Years of America's Most Trusted Food Magazine." Cook's Illustrated magazine has a devoted following and an established record of success, as evidenced by its ability to exist without any ads. The multitudes of us who have saved all of our issues will be grateful to get this collection of its recipes and techniques in one bound volume. From the Classic Brined Roast Turkey recipe that started the brining trend to the vodka-in-the-pie-crust technique that started a new way of tenderizing pastry, Cook's Illustrated has been a reliable teacher and kitchen companion. Hardcover. America's Test Kitchen. $40.
I want to help my BFF conquer school-night meal planning: "My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking." New Orleans Chef John Besh, with eight restaurants to tend, found that he wasn't at home much to cook supper. Already an advocate of the benefits of the home-cooked meal made with real food, he developed menus so the big family meals that he cooked on Sundays could be repurposed into dishes throughout the week. With a list of pantry basics and a set of master recipes, one could make Risotto of Almost Anything, Creamy Any Vegetable Soup, Simple Meat Ragout for Any Pasta, The Perfect Frittata, Curried Anything, Quick Pickled Vegetables, and Warm Any Fruit Crumble. That's just the first chapter; the rest are either occasion or technique-specific, such as Jazz Brunch, Dinner From a Cast-Iron Pot, or How to Cook a Fish. Hardcover. Andrews McMeel. $35.
I want a serious book for a beginning culinary student: "Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques; 100 Recipes; A Cook's Manifesto." Culinary journalist, author of cookbooks and co-author with notable chefs, Michael Ruhlman also proves to be an excellent teacher. "Twenty," he says, "is the exploration of a single idea: that all of cooking can be reduced to a handful of techniques." Some, says Ruhlman, are ingredients that are also tools with multiple uses: salt, water, acid, onion, egg, butter, flour, sugar. Others are actual techniques: dough, batter, sauce, vinaigrette, soup, saute, roast, braise, poach, fry, chill, think. All are carefully explained, first through text, then through recipes and pictures. Master the sum total and, he writes, "there's very little that you won't be able to do in the kitchen." Hardcover. Chronicle Books. $40.
I need the hottest new thing for the chef on my list: "Eleven Madison Park." New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park has three Michelin stars, four New York Times stars, and the 2011 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. The setting is, Frank Bruni of The Times describes, a "theatrically tall, marble and nickel-walled hall in the old Metropolitan Life Building, with grand windows onto the verdure of Madison Square Park." Of chef Daniel Humm's cuisine, Bruni writes: "Like so many practitioners of contemporary French cooking, he favors foams, bisques, gelees and such. … Mr. Humm's judicious flirtations with molecular gastronomy have intensified over the years, to exciting effect." All of this is conveyed magnificently in the coffee-table-sized, color-lush cookbook, where the seasons and their ingredients drive the dishes. Hardcover. Little, Brown and Company. $50.
I need something for a baker who's seen it all: "Momofuku Milk Bar." Christina Tosi is the chef and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, which supplies desserts for the New York restaurant dynasty of Chef David Chang, such as the now-famous Crack Pie, Cereal Milk Ice Cream, and Compost Cookie. That should give you an idea that baking from this book is baking for the fun of it, and while you'll learn some neat new techniques, they might just involve cereal, or crackers or crumbs. Maybe even rainbow sparkles -- and lots of smiles, because it is a blast. Hardcover. Clarkson Potter/Publishers. $35.
I love to bake. Buy this for me: "The Art of French Baking." New York's resounding response to the arrival this summer of Paris' venerated Laduree macaron shop and Charleston's embrace of our own Macaron, signal that the appreciation of true French pastry has not diminished. French food writer Clotilde Dusoulier, known for her blog Chocolate & Zucchini, has edited Ginette Mathiot's classic text and revised and updated its recipes when "modern practices demanded." So, from sables to souffles, madeleines to macarons, cream puffs to puff pastry, here is your handbook. Bon appetit! Hardcover. Phaidon Press. $45.
Reach Marion Sullivan at email@example.com.