Last minute gifts Give these five fabulous cookbooks

Even in good years, the sudden onset of vacation always seems to take me by surprise.

You’ll still find me in cranberry sauce mode long after everyone else has made this candy cane passage. But then, in time, I totally agree because, deep down, I love and I ardently believe in rituals. These are, in my opinion, the best markers of the passage of time.

And what better ritual is there than the giving of gifts? And I almost always give out cookbooks. Yes, as the author of a few of them, I admit to being biased. But, if you’ll forgive me for sounding as cheesy as a Hallmark card, a cookbook really is the gift that keeps on giving. A good recipe will last a lifetime and never go out of style. That, of course, cannot be said for the trendy gift giveaways that make a splash and inevitably end up in your garbage drawer at the end of January.

Here are the five cookbooks I’m giving my friends this vacation and why I’m choosing them. And the good news for those of us who are late in the game: these books are all easy to find, easy to pack, and easy to ship.

This year we are all spending a little too much time in our kitchens. Almost everyone I know, myself included, has encountered a few ruts, whether it was from dish fatigue or flavor fatigue. (Does pasta five nights a week sound familiar to you?) Authors Carrie Solomon and Adrian Moore catapulted me back into the kitchen with Chef’s refrigerators, an intimate look at home refrigerators from 35 of the world’s top chefs.

I devoured this book, spending countless hours marveling at the kimchi radish in Dan Barber’s fridge, the bottle of creamy umami sauce in Ivan Orkin’s fridge, and the fresh coconut in the drawer. from Dominique Crenn’s perfectly organized refrigerator. I wanted to reach out and pluck the huge box of caviar from the bottom shelf of Daniel Boulud’s treasure chest, refrigerator, while Pierre Gagnaire’s apparent affection for supermarket applesauce made me feel much better on my own predilection for shortcuts. While there are recipes in the book, the real fun is in the groupie voyeurism it provides. It’s the gift for the sophisticated foodie, for whom a private tour of a chef’s fridge offers the same dizzying delight as a tour of Sarah Jessica Parker’s closet for a fashionista.

A few years ago, my husband’s godmother, Jean Halberstam, passed away. Jean was the most exquisite home cook I have known. His dinners were legendary. Each course has been perfectly designed and executed. At the end of her life, she shared her favorite recipes with me. I knew she was a cookbook cook, not an improvised cooker, but I admit that I expected her recipes to be written by Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse. Imagine my surprise when I found out that two-thirds of them were straight out of La Contessa barefoot. I immediately bought all Ina Garten Contessa barefoot books and became a devoted fan. So of course I was among the first to order the newest of Garten’s books, Modern comfort food and start cooking my way through, blanket to blanket. Not only does it provide some of the comfort we desperately need during this nerve-racking time, but it’s also loaded with timeless, sure-fire recipes. Some favorites: the oven-baked raclette, the cabbage with Cacio e Pepe cheese and the shellfish and chorizo ​​stew. His books aren’t for those looking for esoteric dishes or hoping to discover rarefied ingredients, but the pages will be well worn and reserved in almost everyone’s library. You can’t go wrong giving this one away.

The smell of the holidays may be evergreen and ginger, but on a dark winter night, the smell I really crave is Nancy Silverton’s Chi Spacca restaurant in Los Angeles. Enter the restaurant and you are immediately struck by a pleasant mixture of scorching wood smoke, rosemary and garlic and – dare I say it – grilled meat – which creates a sort of primitive, growling stomach hunger. . I’ve been known to walk into the restaurant on a far-fetched pretext just to take a deep breath. Finally, the restaurant has a cookbook, and there isn’t a single recipe that I don’t want to make. Chi Spacca is known for its carnivorous indulgences – Moorish lamb shoulder chops, grilled pork chops with fennel pollen and the best steak in town – but Silverton’s salads and desserts are not to be missed. This is the book for friends who love bold, hearty dishes and aren’t afraid of potatoes baked in whipped lardo or crispy black rice with duck fat.

One of the most inventive books of the year comes from London chef Ravinder Bhogal and is called Jikoni: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen. Jikoni means cuisine in Bhogal’s native Kenya, but his food also bears the influence of his Indian heritage and his years in London. The recipes for Roasted Duck and Parsnip Rendang with Dates, Tamarind and Turkey Chutney with Yogurt and Saffron with Freekeh, Pistachio and Lemon Confit Stuffing are original, bold and vibrant. Give this to your friends who want to travel. Or, really, to anyone who feels landlocked and dreams of past and future trips.

Proudly Inauthentic Jikoni Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen

And let’s not forget the dessert! Of 20th Century Coffee Baking: From Linzer Torte’s Iconic European Desserts to Honey CakeI’m planning on making the Kókusz Torta (a coconut marmalade pie with chocolate frosting) for Christmas and a Linzer apple and chestnut pie for New Years Day. A word of warning: this amazing book is not for the faint of heart. The honey cake recipe has four pages rich in text and the cake is made up of ten fragile layers, but the result is spectacular. This is the book for friends who have been through the pandemic and are ready to go pro, or who are planning to put together a weekend project rather than grabbing sugar quickly.

20th century coffee baking

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