These cookbooks would make great gifts

swthompson@herald-leader.comNovember 21, 2012 

Publishers send dozens of review cookbooks to newspapers across the country this time of year. From the collection that has arrived on our features desk, we've picked a few we think are gift-worthy.

■ Some of us have friends who really don't care for chocolate. Here's the cookbook for them: Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever (Quirk, $22.95). It looks at the history of vanilla from orchid to extract, and gives tasting notes for all of today's varieties. Recipes include vanilla cream pie, glazed vanilla bean doughnuts, frosted vanilla almonds and vanilla mojito.

The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm by Sam Beall (Clarkson Potter, $60) has seasonal recipes that are served at the resort in the Smoky Mountains in Walland, Tenn. Blackberry Farm's farm-to-table food features homegrown ingredients and artisanal products such as cheese, preserves and cured meats made on the farm.

■ If you can't decide between a cocktail book and a recipe book, opt for both. When you flip Rachael Ray's My Year in Meals (Artia, $29.99), you have John Cusimano's My Year in Cocktails. Ray's half of the book reveals what she has cooked for family and friends in the course of a year. Her husband, John Cusimano, lead singer in the rock band The Cringe, shares a year's worth of cocktail recipes.

■ Who wouldn't love a new Southern Living cookbook?

Southern Living Around the Southern Table by Rebecca Lang (Oxmoor House, $29.95) delivers soul-satisfying recipes for every meal. It includes tributes from noted Southerners who share what they love about the Southern table.

Southern Living Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook (Oxmoor House, $14.95) is the choice for the novice cook on your list. It includes dozens of recipes for turning a cooked rotisserie chicken from the deli into wholesome family meals.

■ The America's Test Kitchen D.I.Y. Cookbook ($26.95), like all other cookbooks from ATK, offers detailed instructions on proper cooking techniques. D.I.Y. is for the adventurous home cook. It's subtitled: Can It, Cure It, Churn It, Brew It. That includes how to make mustard, brew root beer and cure bacon.

■ Hearst Books offers a holiday lineup that includes: Delish: A Home-Baked Christmas ($12.95); The Little Book of Baking ($12.95) from Good Housekeeping; A Year of Pies by Ashley English ($19.95); Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri ($24.95); and The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Cookie Lover's Cookbook ($29.95).

■ Martha Pullen's Southern Family Cookbook (Adams Media, $26.95) is inspired by her family's traditions, Christian faith and love for Southern cooking. It includes a CD with journaling templates for readers to record their own family stories and recipes.

Here's an easy party recipe from Pullen's book.

recipe

Bread bowl spinach and artichoke dip

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix

1 carton (16 ounces) sour cream

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts

1 jar (2 ounces) chopped pimentos

1 large round loaf of bread, any variety

Assorted vegetables for dipping

Put seasoning mix and sour cream in medium bowl and mix well. Thaw and drain spinach well. Drain, rinse and chop artichokes. Add spinach, artichokes and pimentos to sour cream mixture. Cut top off bread and hollow out center, leaving 1-inch-thick shell. Spoon dip into bread shell.

Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: Flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com.

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