Hopefully, you are way ahead of me and have finished your holiday shopping, neatly wrapped your perfect packages and tucked them all under a well lit Christmas tree. No? Good, me neither.
If you are still looking for a gift for the foodie in your life, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite cookbooks to help you.
1. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Winner of both the Julia Child Cookbook and the James Beard Foundation Awards, this hefty book is the ultimate reference guide. It’s perfect for the emerging cook or experienced chef. More hip and au courant than The Joy of Cooking, (which is still one of my faves), Bittman covers everything from A to Z including techniques, equipment, and thousands of delicious recipes.
2. The Pace of Provence by Yolande Matore Hoisington. This slim little cookbook ranks in the top 5 of my all time favorites! Hoisington combines the best of both worlds – authentic French meals prepared with a healthy spin. A native of France who now lives in Seattle, Hoisington’s philosophy of preparing simple, healthy family meals most reflects my own personal style of cooking. Read more about this cookbook from my entry almost three years ago – Our Pace is All Wrong.
3. A Platter of Figs by David Tanis. Perhaps THE cookbook of the season. Chef extroridinare of Chez Panisse fame released his much anticipated cookbook this fall. Critics claim these recipes are simple, I think they are simply elegant. Figs is a beautiful read and will delight any foodie on your list.
4.In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. This is not a cookbook, but anyone who is interested in preparing or eating (does that include everyone?) should read this compelling state of the union on our current food crisis. Food crisis, you say? Exactly. Pollan will open your eyes and force you to think long and hard about the evolution of edible foodlike substances we consume. His solution: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
5. The Way We Cook by Sheryl Julian & Julie Riven. My dear foodie friend from Boston gave me this cookbook several years ago and I adore it. Julian (food editor of The Boston Globe) and Riven (food writer and stylist) are long-time friends and co-authors of a weekly food column. Fueled by a love of collecting recipes and spending time in the kitchen, these accomplished cooks have penned more than 20 years of experience in this anecdotal cookbook with wonderful regional favorites.
6. Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten. What’s not to love about the Barefoot Contessa?!? I have every one of her books and even made the trek to Dallas last year to meet her in person. As the title reveals, Ina’s newest release takes a fresh spin on ordinary ingredients unlocking their essences. The book does not disappoint….watch for my experience making her Roasted Brussels Sprouts soon. Divine.
7. Dallas Dish by The Junior League of Dallas. Of all the genres of cookbooks I own, my Junior League collection is the largest. Who better to trust than generations of home cooks to share tried and true regional and family favorites? I love to collect League cookbooks from places I visit as a reminder of the local flavors. My current favorite is Dallas Dish most likely because I grew up eating many of these delicious meals. Whether you hail from Big D or not, this cookbook is a great Junior League choice.
8. Fanny at Chez Panisse by Alice Waters. Pretend Soup by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson. Chef Bobo’s Good Food Cookbook by Robert W. Surles. I’m a huge believer that children should be allowed in the kitchen and encouraged to participate in the cooking. I couldn’t come up with only ONE recommendation for children’s cookbooks so I’m sharing three of my favorites. Each of these books is a delight.
Narrated in the voice of Alice Waters’ daughter, Fanny tells the story of her daily life growing up at the famous Chez Panisse. It’s a marvelous story and has delicious recipes at the end. We’ve read this book so many times the Littles think they know Fanny personally!
Pretend Soup is a beautifully illustrated cookbook and a great primer for school aged children. The Littles use this book frequently on Kids Cook Night and can actually make the quiche recipe in this book by themselves now. (I still help with the oven).
Chef Bobo is a larger than life character who actually visited the Littles’ school a couple of years ago. His story of redefining and remaking the school lunch is remarkable. His recipes are too!
9. Every Night Italian by Giuliano Hazan. Husband gave me this cookbook for Christmas four or five years ago hoping I would succeed in the book’s claim ‘120 simple, delicious recipes you can prepare in 45 minutes or less’. The recipes are so tasty and simple they will please anyone lucky enough to share at your table. Husband loves to come home and find Hazan’s cookbook on the counter — it’s a sure sign I’m whipping up something wonderful for supper.
10. Extravagant splurge!! The Big Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal. I read about this lavishly illustrated masterpiece in The New York Times fall cookbook review. Released at a whopping $295, this is the only book on my recommendation list that I do not own. If there is anyone out there who isn’t feeling the economic crunch (and might I add lucky you!) please send me a copy. I’ll be happy to test recipes and give my opinion, just not on my own nickle!
What about you? What’s on your cookbook wish list?