A great new cookbook or spirits guide could be the perfect holiday gift for your favorite cook or beer, bourbon or wine aficionado.
Here is a baker’s dozen of recent books that make terrific gifts. And the best part is, if your gift results in actual cooking, you might be on the receiving end of a terrific thank-you treat.
For the baker
The Everyday Baker, Recipes & Technique for Foolproof Baking by Abigail Johnson Dodge. $40.
If your foodie has been clued to The Great Holiday Baking Show, or its British predecessor, The Great British Baking Show, this is the book to buy.
Dodge includes recipes and techniques for turning out stunning “bakes” as the Brits call them. Try the dried fruit upside-downer for a sophisticated take on the upside-down cake. She includes ways to up your game for even simple thing like cookies, such as the Rosemary cornmeal shortbread. Includes everything from breakfast breads to fancy desserts.
For the on-trend cook
The Hot Chicken Cookbook, The Fiery History & Red-Hot Recipes of Nashville’s Beloved Bird, by Timothy Charles Davis. $19.95.
There is no hotter food trend (pun intended) than hot chicken. This book will take your foodie inside the Nashville kitchens from whence it sprang, all spicy and greasy. And the book has recipes for Hattie’s B’s medium hot chicken, and loads of sides including spicy turnip greens and fried pickles. It also follows the culinary trend in new directions: hot chicken pizza and Nashville-hot fried turkey. And you’ll learn why people really eat hot chicken from Andre Prince Jeffries. One reason: it’s apparently an aphrodisiac.
For the vegetarian
At My Table, Vegetarian Feasts for Family and Friends by Mary McCartney. $29.95.
Mary McCartney, co-founder of Meat Free Monday, knows vegetarian food. So her cookbooks are much more than bland and healthy. Holiday meals can be tricky, but McCartney has that covered with her festive roast of lentils, nuts, quinoa and herbs. If your vegetarian craves flavor, check out McCartney’s Mexican feast or the Middle Eastern one (mmmm, moussaka.) And there’s a kids’ menu for little vegetarians, too.
For the Southern cook
Southern Heat, New Southern Cooking Latin Style by Anthony Lamas and Gwen Pratesi. $35.
If two of the most popular cooking categories — Southern and Latino — married and had a baby, it would be this cookbook. Recipes like Kentucky heirloom tomato gazpacho and roasted sweet potatoes with sorghum and chipotle-pecan butter highlight the best of both worlds.
For the perfectionist
100 Recipes, The Absolute Best Ways to Make the True Essentials, from America’s Test Kitchen. $40.
Is your foodie a sucker for those “you’re doing it wrong” click-bait tutorials? Nobody’s better at getting it right than America’s Test Kitchen. When they tell you that roasting a chicken can be easy and fast, it can be. Sure, everyone knows how to make grilled cheese. But everyone can always make it better, too. This will help anyone master everything from scrambled eggs to pots de crème.
For the busy cook
The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime, Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-minute Meals and other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper! from Ree Drummond. $29.99
It’s hard to find someone who does dinnertime better than Ree Drummond, and cooks love her easy-going manner. Family-friendly favorites including Italian meatloaf and chicken enchiladas will fill make just about everyone happy. Sides like roasted grape tomatoes and lemony green beans will get the kids to attack their veggies with gusto. And there isn’t a dessert that Drummond’s hot fudge sauce can’t make better.
Slow Cooker: 500 Recipes by Sara Lewis. $19.99.
Let’s face it, not everyone is looking for perfection. Some of us are looking for easy and good. This book covers everything from soups and casseroles to desserts, snacks and drinks, with advice on how to get the most out of a slow cooker. (Use whole milk rather than reduced fat milk so it doesn’t separate.) Dishes like barley risotto with blue cheese, tandoori chicken, and sticky toffee apple pudding go well beyond the usual passed-around recipes.
For the adventurous eater
Chinatown Kitchen, From Noodles to Nuoc Cham — Delicious Dishes from Southeast Asian Ingredients, by Lizzie Mabbott. $29.99.
This book will broaden any foodie’s horizons with recipes for great Asian foods from the authentic to modern twists on traditional, and help you navigate the Asian market. Who’s up for homemade sriracha?
Made In India, Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen, by Meera Sodha. $35.
Indian food doesn’t have to complicated to cook, and this book will show the way to simple fresh dishes that Indians cook at home. It demystifies Indian dishes and spices and shows the way to curry like the best of them.
For the drinker
The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil. $24.95.
This tome aims to be your complete guide to wine. All the wine, from Bordeaux to China and all the way around again. This is revised and updated version, with hundreds of new wines, maps and photos. And it’s also stuffed full of great history and entertaining anecdotes.
How to Fake Your Way through a Wine List, Tips and Tricks to Sound like an Expert, by Katherine Cole. $17.95.
Wine can be intimidating for some people. But it doesn’t have to be. This book, with its handy pronunciations, can help the beginner or anyone who hasn’t yet finished The Wine Bible (see above.)
For the history buff (who also drinks)
Lost Recipes of Prohibition, Notes from a Bootlegger’s Manual by Matthew Rowley. $27.95.
This is a delicious cocktail of history and booze, with pages from a handwritten manuscript (hiding in a book of poetry) by a Manhattan doctor. Yes, there are cocktails of the era in there (bee’s knees or rum shrub, anyone? How about monkey gland?) But there are also fascinating glimpses of the lengths people would go to make fake liquor in an era when the rest juice was banned. Like the handwritten formula for “rum essence” or the ways to color port wine. This book is as much science as bartender’s guide.
Prohibition Bakery by Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem. $19.95.
If your foodie is a boozehound with a sweet tooth, this is the perfect gift. The authors opened their Prohibition Bakery in New York in 2011 and have been created more than 50 recipes for boozy mini cupcakes for this book, like a tiny mint julep made with bourbon or the elegant Seelbach with champagne. So you can indulge without overdoing it.