Cookbooks for Everyone on Your List

Posted by on Wednesday Dec 14th, 2011 | Print

Our first-ever BGSK gift guide highlights eight days of presents we know you want to give and receive. To cut through the cluttered shelves of kitchen-oriented goodies, we’re spending eight days showing you the best of the best of the kitchen goodies to wrap up for or unwrap on Hanukkah and Christmas.

Today is Day #7–Cookbooks for Everyone on Your List.

We love cookbooks. Cookbooks represent constant inspiration, beautiful food pictures, and new and inviting ways of re-envisioning your favorite foods. Not to mention, they look great crammed onto your shelves–who needs interior design when you have books?

When you give a cookbook to a friend or family member for the holidays, you’re giving them more than paper, ink, and cardboard. You’re giving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. For an entire year.

To make a single cookbook into a full-on gift package, check out the ingredients and pin a couple (like a bag of chocolate chips or a bunch of spices) to the wrapped gift.

We could browse cookbooks all day! But here, we’ve reduced our list to a few favorites, organized by the lucky person you’re shopping for. Here’s what to get.

**Cookbooks for Everyone on Your List**

For the mom who whipped up the best dinners for you, your siblings, and your friends:
How to Eat Supper and How to Eat Weekends by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift.
This brilliant pair of books by a brilliant pair of writers tackles seemingly simple dining dilemmas, like eating well and simply every night, with the kind of poise mom has, that the rest of us hope to attain. Little twists on classic flavors make these books go-to’s every time.

For the gourmet vegetarian recent grad on a bit of a budget:
Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison.
Deborah Madison’s been a master of her trade–vegetarian cooking–for years. But this little book is filled with dinner recipes that are totally accessible, rarely expensive, and as worthy of serving a crowd as they are perfect for eating with roommates in front of the TV. An entire chapter gets creative with eggs–the budget-conscious vegetarian’s dream.

For the beginner cook who wants to conquer the kitchen from every angle:
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (plus the app!)
This is food, from start to finish. Bittman’s masterpiece runs from basic to involved, touching on everything from simple hors d’oevures to the nuances of cooking fish and meat. The app means that he’ll also have the ability to search recipes by ingredient or course, and to cook on the go, should he ever find himself in a hungry bind when far away from that brick of a book.

For the sibling who travels (and eats) adventurously:
The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert.
One of the best trips of my life was to Morocco. I came home haunted (in a good way) by the flavors of the country’s foods, cooking chickpeas, chicken, and sandwiches in a Moroccan style. Paula Wolfert is the real expert on North African cuisine, and we’ve cooked from her 1973 classic, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. We can’t wait to get our hands on this latest version, which came out in October.

For your Jewish mother, grandmother, or aunt (or for any non-Jewish friend who’s dating a Jew):
Jewish Cooking in America by Joan Nathan.
It’s the time of year for latkes and gelt, so what better time to give someone the tools to make perfect brisket? With over 10 cookbooks to her name, Joan Nathan has truly become the mother of Jewish cooking. The expanded version of Jewish Cooking in America includes 335 kosher recipes, old and new, and is a must-have for anyone who hosts or celebrates the Jewish holidays.

For the college student who craves something spicier than dining hall lasagna:
5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate.
This BGSK favorite gives the home cook, and even the undergrad chef, the gift of homemade Indian food without an insane amount of fuss. Where most Indian dishes call for tons of different spices, often freshly ground, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes uses just five (duh!) to create an epic assortment of flavors and dishes within reach of those with limit pantries.

For the recently engaged pal who’s suddenly dreaming of nesting:
Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten
Though Family Style has a certain retro air when compared to How Easy is That? it’s the perfect tome for fantasizing about simple yet impressive entertaining, the kind of entertaining she’ll do when the small kitchen is a thing of the past, elegant suburbanites are coming over for supper, and little kiddies prance around the renovated kitchen.

For the parents who are still desperately trying to get their kids to sit through a meal:
The Family Dinner by Laurie David
We both grew up in families that made nightly meals together around the table a non-negotiable. But these days with everyone as busy as they are, there are so many factors preventing people from making family dinners a regular routine. When Laurie David set out to write her first cookbook, her goal was to help America’s overwhelmed families sit down to a family dinner, and she provides all the reasons, recipes, and fun tools to do so, one meal at a time. We chatted with Laurie last year about her own family traditions, and you can find out more about them and the book here.

For the urban grillmaster:
BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen
Never mind that this city dweller may be cooking on a mini Weber on somebody’s fire escape, or even on a grill pan. The BBQ aficionado needs the real deal, and Raichlen’s book contains fabulous recipes for regional Southern BBQ, from chicken to cornbread, brisket to pulled pork. Some can be made in the oven–just evoke a barbecue with your decor, and your fellow urbanites might not even know.

For the the foodie who’d really rather go out to eat than cook or bake at home:
Baked or Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.
These two books, by the guys from Baked in Red Hook, profile a series of extraordinary desserts, most of the down-home American variety. Though the majority of the recipes here are perfectly accessible to the accomplished home baker, the books are just as well used as deliciously entertaining coffee table reads. The photos are whimsical, and the stories of sweets are enticing. (A purchased Baked brownie or cookie makes a great addition to this gift!)

For everyone you’ve ever met:
In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine.
Obviously!

(For more recommendations, check out Lily’s guide to the best starter cookbooks.)

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