If, after perusing all our holiday gift guides, you’re somehow left still needing great gift ideas…first of all, you’re crazy. Secondly, cookbooks are always a great fallback plan if all else fails.
Here are 5 gift-worthy cookbook ideas for your shopping checklist.
Perfect as a gift; It’s unusual, it’s beautifully designed, it won’t become dated or old-fashioned.
It’s said that there are more than 300 varieties of pasta, each with its own regional history and unique story to tell. In The Geometry of Pasta, authors Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kennedy decided to take a graphic design approach in presenting over 100 authentic Italian recipes, illustrating (if you’ll mind the pun) which recipes go best with specific pastas.
There are no photos to speak of, only black-and-white illustrations that showcase the sizes, contours, and dimensions of each pasta shape, all listed in alphabetical order for easy reference. When you’re not using it to up your pasta game, it doubles as a quite presentable coffee table book.
Want to introduce someone to essential baking skills without dropping an entire encyclopedia on the subject on their lap? Get them Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast. It’s not a mere book of recipes; it teaches the flexibility required to bake magnificent breads and pizzas, starting from a conceptual level. Even experienced bakers will take something away from this book.
And let’s not forget all that pure bread porn contained within. It’s almost worth the price of admission alone. (Be sure to also check out Ken’s YouTube channel for helpful videos he made to accompany the book!)
You didn’t think I would write this guide and not include J. Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab book, did you?
In this now-sacred tome, Kenji dives deep into the chemistry of home cooking. Over the course of 900+ pages, 300 recipes, and a ton of great photos, J. Kenji teaches everything you need to know to be successful in the kitchen and why certain culinary techniques are scientifically better than others.
Lessons include basic knife care and usage, the composition of eggs + the ways they change during cooking, the shelf life of various cooking ingredients when stored properly, the best way to cook pasta + the five “mother” sauces at the root of nearly all pasta dishes, an in-depth explanation of stock for soups and stews, and much more.
Know someone who’s sick of Chinese takeout and wants something better? How about someone trying to cut down on their meat intake, both for their health and the planet’s benefit? In either case, they will adore Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice, which teaches how easy it can be to cook authentic southern Chinese comfort dishes at home, with an emphasis on veggies:
Try your hand at stir-fried potato slivers with chili pepper, vegetarian “Gong Bao Chicken,” sour-and-hot mushroom soup, or, if you’re ever in need of a quick fix, Fuchsia’s emergency late-night noodles. Many of the recipes require few ingredients and are ridiculously easy to make. Fuchsia also includes a comprehensive introduction to the key seasonings and techniques of the Chinese kitchen. With stunning photography and clear instructions, this is an essential cookbook for everyone, beginner and connoisseur alike, eager to introduce Chinese dishes into their daily cooking repertoire.
For those who’ve been too timid to try their hand at Chinese cooking before, Every Grain of Rice is the perfect way to demystify it.
Mark Bittman’s seminal How to Cook Everything is likely the most traditional-style cookbook in this guide. Essentially an encyclopedia of recipes, this is the book every family should keep on hand as their go-to reference. It’s got a little bit of everything — soups, sandwiches, poultry, eggs/breakfast/dairy, desserts, and so much more.