When it comes to gifts for food lovers, cookbooks truly are the gifts that keep on giving. The trick is finding just the right book for your kitchen-loving friend or family member. And in a year with an almost overwhelming number of enticing titles to choose from, picking the right cookbook is up there with making croissants from scratch.
Do you go with the gorgeous coffee-table tome, the glossy chef book, or the practical paperback that’s guaranteed to be dog-eared in a week? To help you sort through the stacks of 2015 books, we spent some time with our own not insignificant collection, and found the best options for everyone on your list. From the obsessed baker to the busy parent to the hard-core vegan, there’s a cookbook for every kind of cook, including you.
For the Southern Food Fanatic
The Up South Cookbook by Nicole A. Taylor is the work of a Brooklyn-based Georgia native, so the recipes have a north-meets-south sensibility. Classics like grits, country ham, biscuits, and pecan pie are all on the table, but Taylor, the host of Hot Grease on Heritage Radio Network, has a knack for using new ingredients and her own personal experiences to create wholly original interpretations. Get The Up South Cookbook here.
For the Cutting-Edge Cook
NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully isn’t quite as user-friendly as the London-based chef’s previous work, but those up for a bit of a culinary challenge will find a lot to love. Ottolenghi remains the go-to source for whatever new ingredient everyone will be talking about, but this time we have NOPI’s head chef Ramael Scully to thank. With his Malay, Indian, and Chinese roots, he puts an Asian spin on Ottolenghi’s notoriously expansive pantry; along with the usual tahini and pomegranate, you’ll find tamarind, oolong, and pink peppercorns. Get NOPI: The Cookbook here.
For the Movie Buff
Cocktails of the Movies by Will Francis and Stacey Marsh invites film fanatics to get their cinema fix in liquid form. This strikingly illustrated book pays tribute to 64 films ranging from Casablanca to Batman to Amélie, pairing each with a classic cocktail. A rundown of spirits, mixers, and bar tools helps take the mystery out of the mixology. Get Cocktails of the Movies here.
For the Future MasterChef Junior Contestant
Sesame Street Let’s Cook by Susan McQuillan, RD, enlists lovable characters like Bert, Ernie, Elmo, and Big Bird to make kid-friendly recipes and healthy eating advice more fun. Bright, colorful photographs will pull in young chefs, while the spiral-bound format makes this book especially kitchen-friendly.Get Sesame Street Let’s Cook here.
For the Street Food Connoisseur
Eat Mexico by Lesley Téllez brings Mexico City’s everyday food scene to life with more than 100 recipes from the city’s streets, markets, and fondas. Téllez, a blogger and culinary tour guide, was raised in a Mexican-American home, and lived in Mexico City for four years; she writes with both passion and authority. This isn’t quick and easy cooking, but dishes like Green Chicken Enchiladas and Crisp Carrot Tacos are not to be missed. Get Eat Mexico here.
For the Aspiring Chef
The NoMad Cookbook by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara is a serious — and seriously stunning — cookbook from one of NYC’s most celebrated restaurants. There’s no dumbing down: A kitchen scale and significant ambition are prerequisites. An illustrated, pocket-sized cocktail guide is tucked inside, so it’s really two books in one. Get The NoMad Cookbook here.
For the DIY Cook
The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss is a practical primer for modern, natural homesteading with advice on cooking, preserving, cleaning, and personal care. Organized by season, it offers a years’ worth of do-able projects for DIY living, plus enticing recipes like Swiss Chard Gratin and Short Ribs in Red Wine. Get The Hands-On Home here.
For the Artist
Atelier Crenn by Dominique Crenn could easily be mistaken for an art book, and in fact, it features art in many forms, including recipes and menus that read like poems, dreamy landscapes, and food photography that gives new meaning to the term “food porn.” Few will cook from this gorgeous book by the Michelin-starred San Francisco chef, but it’s sure to inspire. Get Atelier Crenn here.
For the Ambitious Vegan
DIY Vegan by Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman is for the vegan who’s mastered basic plant-based eating and wants to take it to the next step. In addition to recipes for Chocolate Cake Mix, Date and Fig Cashew Cheese, and Coconut Bacon Bits, there’s an in-depth guide to stocking a vegan pantry and strategies for creating a more homemade meat-free life. Get DIY Vegan here.
For the Busy Parent
Dinner Solved! by Katie Workman offers easy, creative supper solutions for frantic moms and dads, especially those with picky eaters at home. The book’s “Fork in the Road” approach builds flexibility into each recipe, which means that with a tiny tweak or two, one meal can satisfy the whole family. Get Dinner Solved! here.
For the Dreamer
Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry tells the enviable story of a couple that left NYC and opened a now-famous restaurant in the Mexican jungle. Fantasies of dropping out and starting over are guaranteed, and while the recipes often call for a wood-burning oven, many are surprisingly adaptable to the home kitchen. Get Hartwood here.
For the Socially Conscious Cook
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez will speak to cooks who are as passionate about social justice as they are about food. Recipes for bread — and dishes that go with bread — come from the women behind Hot Bread Kitchen, and interspersed throughout, you’ll find fascinating profiles of the social enterprise’s many success stories. Get The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook here.
For the Serial Seamless User
Lucky Peach Presents: 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan may not be strictly authentic, but when it comes to getting quick and delicious Asian-inspired meals on the table, the Lucky Peach team definitely delivers. Add practical advice on ingredients and equipment and there’s simply no excuse for ordering takeout. Get Lucky Peach Presents: 101 Easy Asian Recipes here.
For the Creative Vegetarian
A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones offers the kind of colorful, textured, flavor-packed meals meat-free eaters crave, and most are speedy enough for weeknight eating. Alternative ingredients like millet and nut butters lend health cred, but Jones, a Jamie Oliver protégé, smartly avoids diet or deprivation in favor of simply celebrating and enjoying good food. Get A Modern Way to Eat here.
For the Junk Food Junkie
Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi is filled with simple, satisfying recipes for cooks who want flavor and fun with minimal fuss. A mix of sweet and savory recipes ranges from Cocktail Meatballs to Snickerdoodles, and makes ample use of packaged supermarket staples. Tosi also includes a chapter full of dishes made entirely with ingredients sourced from a gas station. Get Milk Bar Life here.
For the Cookbook Collector
Benu by Corey Lee is not meant to be cooked from, admits the highly regarded San Francisco chef. It’s packed with recipes, but they’re more about inspiration than actual instruction. Each dish is paired with a thoughtful explanation from Lee, so there’s plenty to read, and with such exquisite photography, there’s a lot to admire. Get Benu here.
For the Health Nut
Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver is the British chef’s latest release and this time, his enticing, internationally influenced recipes come with a side of good health. Oliver is studying for a nutrition degree, and along with slimmed-down recipes, he shares everything he’s learned and all with his signature blend of enthusiasm and accessibility. Get Everyday Super Food here.
For the Bread Obsessed
Bien Cuit by Zachary Golper is a true homage to the art and science of bread baking and it’s gorgeous to boot. Golper’s methods are exacting — his sourdough starter takes 24 days — but his recipes are home kitchen–friendly, and yield beautifully crusty, full-flavored loaves. Bread nerds will delight in extensive discussions of ingredients and technique. Get Bien Cuit here.
For the Beginner Cook
The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt might seem intimidating — the recipes are long; the book is so big! — but it’s actually perfect for kitchen newbies. López-Alt offers sure-fire recipes for everyday classics like burgers and mashed potatoes, but it’s his scientific and surprisingly practical approach that’s going to improve the way they cook. GetThe Food Lab here.
For the Flavor Seeker
Vegetarian Indian by Madhur Jaffrey reinvigorates vegetarian cooking by turning to an ancient cuisine that mastered meat-free eating long before it was trendy. More than 200 spiced and seasoned recipes include Punjabi-Style Beets with Ginger and Chickpeas in Fresh Cilantro Sauce, but the real hook is Jaffrey, the legendary and award-winning cookbook author and actress whose voice is both elegant and engaging. Get Vegetarian Indian here.
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