Recipes for a Happy Holiday Books for Cooks and Foodies on Your Gift-Giving List

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 28, 2012 | Go to article overview

Recipes for a Happy Holiday Books for Cooks and Foodies on Your Gift-Giving List


Byline: Michele Kayal Associated Press By Michele Kayal Associated Press

The dawn of the holiday season also marks an onslaught from the publishing world a rush of food books that begins in August and refuses to slow down until every family in America has gifted (and perhaps regifted) at least a dozen. Or maybe it just feels that way.

The upshot of all this is that there truly is a food book for everyone on your shopping list. Should you care to go that route, weve sussed out some of the best to help streamline at least that leg of your shopping trip.

For cookbook geeks

Fancy a sunderland pudding? Ever wonder how to dress a calfs head? Publisher Andrews McMeel has teamed up with The American Antiquarian Society to publish reproductions of 100 cookbooks documenting the early American cooking experience. "American Cookery" (Andrews McMeel, $22.99) by Amelia Simmons was originally published in 1796 and is believed to be the first cookbook to document American culinary techniques. It offers a window into those days with recipes for items such as spruce beer and tongue pie set beside page images from the original cookbook.

Also part of the series is Americas first Jewish cookbook, "Jewish Cookery Book: On Principles of Economy" (Andrews McMeel, $28.99) by Esther Levy. It originally was published in 1871 and includes recipes for fish balls and frimsel (noodle) soup. Its recipes, menu suggestions and household management tips aimed to help European immigrants adapt to their new country while maintaining their religious heritage.

Both volumes are perfect for the armchair anthropologist in your life.

For regular geeks

Does your loved one stand over a pot of boiling water with a thermometer? Wonder why salt makes steak juicy? Muse out loud about why russets make fluffier mashed potatoes than red bliss? We got it covered.

"The Science of Good Cooking" (Americas Test Kitchen, $40) by the folks behind Cooks Illustrated magazine doesnt just offer "400 recipes engineered for perfection," it also covers 50 basic concepts explaining why the recipes work. Useful sidebars showcase tips and techniques use a skillet, not a wok to stir-fry and charts that check your measurements (a cup of all-purpose flour should weigh 5 ounces) make it a handy reference guide.

"Modernist Cuisine at Home" (The Cooking Lab, $140) is even sexier. The laboratory that last year produced "Modernist Cuisine," a six-volume encyclopedia of molecular gastronomy by Nathan Myhrvold, has turned its blow torches and sous vide machines on home cooking. Its a monstrously fun and shockingly practical cookbook that truly lets you get your geek on in the kitchen.

Because who knew that a touch of citric acid makes the ultimate grilled cheese? Or that scrambled eggs can be dispensed from a whipping canister and that baking soda helps caramelize vegetables?

For nostalgia hounds

Americans have been hungry for nostalgia, and publishers are happy to feed them. "101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes" (Rizzoli International Publications, $50) boils down the classic, most iconic cookbooks to 501 recipes, drawing from books that span Fannie Farmers 1896 "The Boston Cooking School Cook Book" to Thomas Kellers 1999 "The French Laundry Cookbook."

Sneaking in between are recipes such as sole meuniere from Jacques Pepins "La Technique," Bengal red lentils from Julie Sahnis "Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking," and banana bread from Mark Bittmans "How to Cook Everything." Essays about each book and its importance make this an excellent gift for the person who loves cookbooks even more than cooking.

There also is the incredibly charming "Handwritten Recipes" (Perigee, $20), a collection of found recipes by bookseller Michael Popek. Tucked between the pages of books brought into his store, Popek found the jots and scribbles of recipes from unknown cooks. …

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