As Christmas draws closer, have you finished your shopping yet? If not, try turning to your local bookstore to find something for nearly everyone on your list:
The Aspiring Home Cook
Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease, by Rozanne Gold. All the recipes in this lovely cookbook are described in 140 words or less, and many have only 5 ingredients, making even sophisticated-sounding dishes like "sauteed chicken with roasted grapes and grape demi-glace" quite approachable.
How To Repair Food, by Tanya Zeryck, John Bear and Marina Bear. The third edition of a perennially helpful classic that offers tips on everything from makeshift ingredient substitutions to stale marshmallows.
Williams-Sonoma: The Art of Preserving, by Rick Field with Rebecca Courchesne. An essential reference guide for anyone interested in making and cooking with their own canned and pickled produce.
The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook: 200th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, by Brinna B. Sands. A sturdy, ring-bound classic devoted to all things flour-based, from pancakes to pie, and of course, bread.
The Cosmopolitan Foodie
My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South, by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher. The first cookbook to focus on Calabria, the region at the tip of Italy's "boot," its recipes celebrate ingredients like olives, anchovies, hot peppers... and pasta made on knitting needles.
Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, With Recipes, by Mark Bitterman. A fascinating tribute to the history and nuances of the many types of "artisan salt" in the world, written by a self-described "selmelier." Includes a field guide to dozens of specific salts found in the Mongolian steppes, the deserts of Timbuktu and more.
Around my French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. The warm, conversational tone of Greenspan's writing, combined with gorgeous photographs and tips about serving and storing, welcomes readers into the exciting world of French home cooking.
Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes, by David Lebovitz. From classics like creme brulee to unique concepts like Guinness-gingerbread cupcakes, the Paris-based pastry chef's heavenly-sounding recipes are anchored in his funny, down-to-earth style. ("If you don't have a pepper mill, shame on you. Go get one.")
The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion, by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark. A collection of 80 sure-to-impress recipes from the White House pastry chef, helpfully organized by occasion (birthdays, brunches, bring-to-a-party desserts, etc.).
Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Cooking and Sourcing Sustainable Meat, by Deborah Krasner. A satisfyingly thick tome, broken down into chapters on beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, poultry and eggs. Includes recipes for every part of the animals, and explains the terminology and practices involved in meat production and processing.
Planet Barbecue: An Electrifying Journey Around the World's Barbecue Trail, by Steven Raichlen. More than 300 grill-centric recipes from 60 countries, ranging from South African braai to Korean pork belly.
The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour, by Kim O'Donnel. As O'Donnel explains, the inspiration for this marvelous book was helping her mother come up with heart-healthy meals that would pass muster with the meat-loving man in her life, "Mister Sausage." O'Donnel isn't condemning carnivores, she's simply asking them to take a day off: "Meatless Mondays."
The Very Best of Recipes for Health, by Martha Rose Shulman. A collection of simple, healthy, largely vegetarian recipes from Shulman's popular New York Times column, including nutritional analyses. Mediterranean chickpea salad, creamy cabbage soup, "rainbow tofu" and much more.
The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat and Moral Crisis, by Tara Austen Weaver. This food writer's memoir is both entertaining and thought-provoking, as she grapples with the relationship between her vegetarian upbringing and some serious health issues, and gets a crash course in the world of meat production and consumption.
The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century, by Amanda Hesser. A hefty treasure chest, bursting with gems of culinary history culled from the newspaper's archives by one of its best food writers.
As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardon. Fans of Julia Child will devour this collection of her personal correspondence with her friend and literary mentor Avis in the 1950s. Although the letters discuss much more than food, they offer a window into the process of recipe and testing and development for Child's famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Memories of a Farm Kitchen, by Bob and Rob Artley. A charming and utterly unique memoir about growing up on a 200-acre farm in Iowa in the 1920s and 1930s, this homespun book recalls bygone days of icebox refrigerators, cellar larders, and ham hanging from the rafters.
The Pop-Culture Geek
Cooking With the Movies: Meals on Reels, by Anthony F. Chiffolo and Rayner W. Hesse, Jr. With recipes based on the foods featured in 14 different films, from 1985's Tampopo through 2007's Waitress, this could be the basis for some seriously fun dinner parties.
Culinary Ephemera: An Illustrated History, by William Woys Weaver. I've already told you how much I enjoyed this collection of vintage advertisements, food packaging, menus and tidbits of trivia from culinary history.
Or how about one of these cookbooks by non-culinary celebrities, like Dolly Parton or Coolio?
The Drinks Connoisseur
Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits, by Jason Wilson. From the first chapter, titled "The Ombibulous Me," this alcohol-soaked memoir from The Washington Post's Spirits columnist turns the esoteric into the entertaining. Includes dozens of cocktail recipes.
Whiskey: A Global History, by Kevin Kosar. This intriguing, stocking-stuffer-sized volume from the Alcohol Reviews blogger chases the history of whiskey around the world and through the ages, explains the differences between various types and includes several classic whiskey cocktail recipes.
The Great Domaines of Burgundy: A Guide to the Finest Wine Producers of the Cote D'Or, by Remington Norman and Charles Taylor (3rd edition). Serious oenophiles and/or Francophiles will savor this detailed reference book, which elucidates the methods and personalities at the heart of Burgundy's best wines.
Vino Argentino: An Insider's Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina, by Laura Catena. As described in a previous post, this is an excellent primer on the Argentine wine industry and its beloved malbecs.