Foodie fare

Whether your holiday gift list is filled with gourmet chefs, televisionaddicts or people who just love a good tale, this year’s crop ofcookbooks and other food-related volumes offers some excellent giftchoices.

Whether your holiday gift list is filled with gourmet chefs, television addicts or people who just love a good tale, this year’s crop of cookbooks and other food-related volumes offers some excellent gift choices.

Here’s a guide to help you pick through the deluge.

For Food Network junkies

Can’t pry that friend/ cousin/husband/wife away from the Food Network? Stash a copy of Alton Brown’s Good Eats: The Early Years (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $37.50) under the tree. Brown’s wacky spunk drives the episode-by-episode breakdown of his hit show’s first six seasons. Complete with 140 recipes and a fold-out poster!

Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes (William Morrow, $35) offers a photo album-scrapbook of life at Baltimore’s Charm City Bakery, the birthplace of those spectacular towers of fondant featured on the show.

Or surprise your aspiring Top Chef with Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook (Chronicle Books, $19.95), a collection of 75 recipes from the show plus advice on staging your own Quickfire Challenges at home.

For chef groupies

Know someone two steps away from tattooing “I Love Ramen” across their chest? Give them Momofuku (Clarkson Potter, $40), super-chef David Chang’s spirited account of creating his beloved and unlikely group of New York restaurants.

Last year, devotees of British chef Heston Blumenthal would have paid $250 for the cookbook illuminating his science-enabled cooking. The recession-friendly re-issue of The Fat Duck cookbook clocks in at $50 and offers everything but the gilt (honest) and size (down to 2.2 kilograms from 5.5). No one will ever cook from it, but it is an extraordinary and beautiful monograph (Bloomsbury, $50).

For the truly chef obsessed, Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters, 100 Contemporary Chefs (Phaidon, $49.95) tasks 10 chefs — including Ferran Adria, Mario Batali and Alice Waters — with critiquing 100 contemporaries in a cookbook-restaurant guide-who’s who on the international food scene.

For food geeks

No serious cook can live without Larousse Gastronomique, the authoritative culinary encyclopedia that dates to 1938. This 2009 revision (Clarkson Potter, $90) includes cooking methods that have emerged since the 2001 update, such as sous vide and molecular gastronomy, new biographies of contemporary chefs such as Ferran Adria, and more than 400 photographs.

Think of The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Barron’s, $29.99) as Larousse-lite, a handy, accessible, countertop reference for more than 6,000 tools, techniques, ingredients and tips.


For memoir lovers

Julie Powell’s second book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession (Little, Brown, $24.99) fills out the ton of food-related memoirs and novels released this year. Anyone who loved Julie & Julia will want to follow the memoirist into the butcher shop as she struggles to wield a cleaver and save her marriage.

Part cookbook, part family chronicle, Suzan Colon’s Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times (Doubleday, $21.95) tracks three generations of women who find comfort in their kitchens. Colon begins her quest after being laid off, making it a tale for today.

For busy cooks

For harried cooks who nonetheless disdain five-ingredient cookbooks or 30-minute meal solutions, there is no better book than Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less (Simon and Schuster, $26). Filled with paragraph-long suggestions for delicious, straightforward weeknight fare, Bittman ditches the traditional recipe format in favour of practical ways to use what you’ve got on hand.

Rachael Ray’s Book of 10: More than 300 Recipes to Cook Every Day (Clarkson Potter, $20) offers recipes as simple as the title. From Mediterranean chicken to stuffed cabbage soup, Ray offers her top 10 recipes in categories from Family Faves to $10 Meals.

For beginners

Moosewood Cookbook author Mollie Katzen offers beginners recipes for simple, satisfying fare, as well as tips for rounding out a soup meal, riffing on established recipes and generally getting the hang of things in Get Cooking: 150 Recipes to Get You Started in the Kitchen (HarperStudio, $24.99). Send your kid off to college with this one.

For kids

Paula Deen’s Cookbook for the Lunch-box Set (Simon and Schuster, $21.99) offers pre-teen chefs illustrated recipes for fun food, including apple raisin muffins, basic cheese fondue and pan-fried chicken. A great book for family night or parties with friends.

Jazz up your kids’ steady diet of pizza and pasta with The Silver Spoon for Children (Phaidon, $19.95), a step-by-step volume that adapts classic Italian recipes for little hands. Whimsical drawings add to the fun.

 
 
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