Gift Guide: Books for Cooks

There’s nothing like a good cookbook for those who love spending time in the kitchen. For them a cookbook is more than a list of ingredients and instructions, it’s a travel guide to new worlds of flavor.

Here are our picks for the most fascinating cookbooks and books about food that have been published in recent months. There’s something for every interest here.

A Life in Food

Part cookbook, part biography, wholly engaging, Unforgettable tells the tale of an adventurous woman who would change the way we eat. Paula Wolfert traveled the Mediterranean world and brought the foods she encountered into our culinary lexicon.  Diagnosed with dementia a few years ago, her encyclopedic knowledge of food is in danger of being lost. Emily Kaiser Thelin devoted herself to preserving Wolfert’s story. This book is a remarkable achievement and will make someone on your list very happy.

For the Artist in the Kitchen

Speaking of extraordinary women, Cipe Pineles was one of the most influential magazine art directors and graphic designers of the 20th century. In 1945 she completed a keepsake book of her family recipes, which she lavishly illustrated with vibrant colors. Rediscovered in recent years – read the amazing story here – her book is now available as Leave Me Alone with the Recipes.  For those with a taste for mid-century design, this book is a must-have. Find towels and prints of her designs here.

Instant Pot Perfection

For those with an Instant Pot – or who are about to receive one this Christmas – a really good cookbook is necessary.  This electric multicooker (and kitchen time saver) has taken the internet by storm, but it requires specific recipes for best results. It doesn’t get much better than this: Melissa Clark of The New York Times turned her considerable expertise to the Instant Pot. Her book is one of the best, with a variety of unexpected recipes.

Cooking from the Heart, with Guts

We love Chris Cosentino, chef, author, and master of offal. In his down-to-earth style, he makes the off-cuts approachable in this excellent book. Perfect for the hardcore carnivore who likes to explore new horizons. And is that the best book title yet?

Cheeses, Take the Wheel

The story of cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality – is told in Reinventing the Wheel. For the food historian with the heart of a traditionalist, this book explores what has been lost as raw milk cheeses from small farms have been replaced by factory-produced cheeses. Following the small cheesemakers who are changing that, the book offers hope of a future full of delicious cheese.

Confident in the Kitchen

Part instruction book, part cookbook, this new tome by famed bestselling cookbook author Patricia Wells is the blueprint for success in the kitchen. It’s perfect for those who love Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. Straight from her cooking schools in France, the lessons will help any cook master essential skills.

The Four Elements

Samin Nostrat teaches a simple philosophy of cooking. Master the four basic elements – you guessed it – salt, fat, acid and heat, and anything you cook will be delicious. These are the hows and whys of cooking and once they are understood anyone can make better decisions and create tastier meals.

Brave Baker

In what has to be the cleverest book title this season, Stella Parks shares the secrets of flawlessly executing classic American desserts. She’s an award-winning pastry chef with years of experience that she shares in this best-selling cookbook. Great photography, fun vintage advertisements and some stories of how these desserts came to be all combine to make the perfect gift for the baker in your life.

Take a Trip

Photographer Michael Harlan Turkell traveled the world studying vinegar. The resulting wisdom, which includes recipes from famous chefs using vinegar, as well as recipes for making your own vinegar, can be found in his book Acid Trip. 

5 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a great list – thank you! The titles alone are worth the read. I will be re-blogging on .

    1. D'Artagnan says:

      So glad you like it. Thanks for re-blogging. Happy holidays!

      1. LOVE IT! The post goes live tomorrow; I already had two scheduled today. (Being off work means more time to share in the blog.) 🙂

  2. Rosalie Donlon says:

    Great list! I would add Jacques Pepin’s La Technique. I learned how to do so many things from this book. My copy is falling apart, but I treasure it.

  3. Wow, 15. I can barely get through one. But after I am retired, then I can do it!

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