Friday, December 23, 2011

On the Twelfth day of Christmas... Twelve Amazing Cookbooks!

The last day of my 12 Days of Christmas gift guide is full of my favorite things- cookbooks! Like the 11th Day, you should be able to run out to the book store and pick up most of these great books, making them perfect last minute gift ideas. Again, I recommend a gift receipt if you are giving these books to friends and family with plentiful cookbook libraries. Enjoy! 

Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing. During the Kitchen Arts & Letters book sale this spring, I scooped up this first book from Andrea Reusing. It is visually beautiful and filled with drool-worthy recipes. She gently takes her reader through the seasons with simple yet innovative ways for using whats available. This is for your friends who love amazing recipes and food photography. 

Cook This Now by Melissa Clark. I've come to sing the praises of Melissa Clark plenty of times this year. She's a delight as is her newest book Cook This Now. Like Reusing's book Clark's is full of seasonal recipes focused on local food that really make you want to make all the recipes ASAP. Read about why I love her and then get this book for the people on your list who do most of their shopping at the farmer's market or co-op. 

French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook by Mireille Guiliano. It is disheartening to me that this book is classified as "diet" or "weight loss" because it is one of the greatest cookbooks I own. Guiliano's outlook is just to eat really good food, in simple ways with moderation and above all joie de vivre. This is not a diet book! It is full of fabulous recipes that make you feel good about yourself just reading over them, while making you hungry as well. I really recommend this book for any Francophiles, lovers of simple food and fans of Mireille's other books. Check it out for yourself- its one of the best.

Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook by Mary Risley. Tante Marie's made my list of cooking schools on the Sixth day of Christmas and the Tante Marie cookbook would make a great gift paired with a gift certificate for the school. I liken this book to a sort of Julia Child's cookbook with a Californian flair. It is highly instruction with lots of notes on the given recipes. She includes plenty of basics along side original recipes. A perfect book for someone who cooks a lot but wants to learn more techniques. 

In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine. I think I came upon the Big Girls, Small Kitchen blog via a giveaway. Their book is a tasty volume of recipes perfect for college student and recent graduates getting into their own kitchens for the first time. Not to be misleading by that, these are full fledged recipes perfect for everything from feeding a party of 8 to oneself. This gift will keep on giving, too, for once they discover the book they will then have the blog to keep up with that has fresh recipes, cooking tips, entertaining ideas and giveaways. Wrap this up for your favorite 20-somethings who are home for the holidays. 

The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones. Written by the woman who got Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking published, this book has recipes perfect for the single chef who believes in a little indulgence. This book has been pretty revolutionary for me, the constantly solo cook. There are so many recipes I want to try but always hesitate to pare down from 6 or 8 servings to 1 or 2 just to have something like bœuf bourguignon. Jones gives perfect recipes for one, many French inspired and all delicious. An excellent option for your dear friends who live alone but absolutely love to cook. And not to be morbid at all, but the reason Jones is left cooking for one is due to the lateness of her husband-- this book could uplift someone who has lost their loved one and get them back into the habit of cooking.

Twenty by Michael Ruhlman. Oh Michael Ruhlman, how do I love thee? Let me count the techniques.... This is one of two Ruhlman books on this list because he is just that amazing. I found out about Ruhlman watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Christmas special last year. I thought, who is this handsome man with such amazing hair? I immediately Googled him and found his wonderful blog and the opening recipe for home made English muffins. He's so smart and logical and makes great food even more amazing. This book discusses twenty techniques- methods and ways of using key ingredients like salt and water. The photos are descriptive and stunning (taken by his wife Donna). Give this book to everyone! Even if they don't cook out of it (try not to though) it would be a fabulous coffee table book. (I got this for someone on my gift list and its also on my wish list- Twenty for everyone!)

In the Green Kitchen by Alice Waters. Staying in the vein of technique, In The Green Kitchen gets the best chefs and friends of Alice Waters together to create this volume of simple recipes for making everyday food. Recipes for things like pesto, simple tomato sauce and how to make and dress a salad from the masters of each. It is a basic yet luxurious volume of recipes, again, perfect for anyone but especially lovers of local and organic ingredients.

Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. I heart Michael Ruhlman part two. I picked up Ratio in late spring after reading so many blog posts about making your own bread. Shortly after I bought my kitchen scale for macarons and trying some of Ruhlman's recipes out with the extreme precision a scale allows. Amazing! This slim paperback is misleading, thinking it might be a funny little work on how things equate when it comes to food. What you get is a book bursting with recipes simplified to their most basic that come together quickly and perfect every time. A nice one for new and experienced cooks alike.

Crave by Ludo Lefebvre. I couldn't very well get through a proper cookbook list without Chef Ludo, could I? I've sung the praises of Crave a few times in the past, but this is an especially special present because it is out of print. Luckily, if you can't find it you can just look forward to the forthcoming LudoBites Cookbook (I know I can't wait!). This book is an inspiration that encourages me to play with flavor combinations and techniques in my own cooking. Superb for any Chef Ludo lovers (or, as we're called "Ludo Bitches") or people who like big colorful cookbooks with creative recipes. [I know Kitchen Arts & Letters had a copy of the book, which may have sold, but I'd try there first!]

The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert. My birthday is right around the corner (New Years' Day!) and I'm throwing myself a Moroccan themed party. I gifted myself her brand new book on Morocco and have been raving about it ever since. It is a complete look at Moroccan food and an examination of how people dine in Morocco, what spices they use and more. I can't wait to cook from it next week. For any Moroccan food/culture enthusiast in your life, this is the book for them. Also great for travelers and lovers of North African food. 

Ideas in Food by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot. This book is full of crazy ideas for amazing things to do with food. I don't have the book but I follow the Ideas In Food blog and they always have ways of stretching the way we normally think of ingredients. A really great idea for any chef stuck in a rut and totally perfect for your friends working the line in restaurant kitchens to keep them inspired and on their toes.

As I finish writing this "Auld Lang Syne" has come on my iTunes. I hope you've enjoyed all 12 days of Christmas here on The Culinary Librarian and that you got some great ideas for gifts to friends, family and probably yourself. Thank you for reading!

Wishing all of you the happiest of holidays, 
the merriest of Christmases and 
the most magical of New Years!

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