After reflecting on the vast universe of cookbooks out there for just a few minutes, my head began to hurt. How do you whittle down even the basics to a manageable list when there are three versions of The Joy of Cooking alone to consider?
So instead of a general gift guide, I'm listing the some of the best cookbooks of 2007 with an eye toward what from this year's crop would make a jolly, useful, tasty present.
Prices don't include shipping unless otherwise noted.
The Best Reference Book
James Peterson's Cooking is unmatched in terms of giving clear instruction for useful culinary skills. It leans heavily towards classic French dishes, but its value as a guide to technique make it an essential for home cooks who want to step up their game in terms of polish and consistency. Sidebars full of tips and the photos that accompany the well-thought out directions make complicated-sounding processes unambiguous - a recipe for success. $26.40, from Amazon
The Best on Basics
The Best Book on Meat
It's a good time to be a carnivore. This year we saw new and reissued guides to pork (Pork and Sons), bacon (Bacon), offal (Beyond Nose To Tail), Fish (The Young Man and The Sea) and chicken (Roast Chicken and Other Stories)all great guides to single (albeit sometimes inexhaustibly broad) subjects. But no book published this year captures more about the virtues of flesh than The River Cottage Meat Book, delicious armchair tourism to a jolly England of roast fowl and spit-cooked joints of lamb. Equal parts pastoral romance, philosophical reflection, and instruction on selecting and working with a vast variety of meats, it is an excellent guide to shopping sensibly, making dinner thoughtfully and using leftovers wisely. $24, from Amazon
The Best Eclectic Cookbook
The Best on Sweets
Ed has waxed rhapsodic about Gina DePalma's desserts at Babbo for a long time, and his excitement about Dolce Italiano was met by enthusiasm from Serious Eaters when they tried the recipes we featured on the site. If you give this collection of lovely desserts and charming anecdotes to the pastry maker in your life, maybe you'll get the gift of delicious treats in return. $23, from Amazon