The Anne Byrn cake book is a delight for bakers, history nerds and cake fanatics, but your shopping list has a few more holes in it. Here are some other books you should look out for this holiday season:
Chances are good that you’ll be giving or getting a coloring book or other art supplies this year — Santa always brings paints and canvases to our house. As beautiful as cookbooks are to flip through, Cozy Kitchen blogger Adrianna Adarme knew that her recipes paired with Amber Day’s illustrations would make for beautiful pages to color. They collaborated to make “A Cozy Coloring Cookbook: 40 Simple Recipes to Cook, Eat & Color” (Rodale, $15.99), a coloring book that is every bit as useful as a cookbook as it is a path to after-dinner creativity.
If you have a foodie in your life who does not yet have a sous vide machine, go buy an immersion circulator called a Joule. After that, buy “Sous Vide at Home: The Modern Technique for Perfectly Cooked Meals” by Lisa Q. Fetterman, Meesha Halm and Scott Peabody (Ten Speed Press, $35), an excellent primer from three experts in the field. (You should also follow my friend Hector Gonzalez on Instagram @mexicanity for realistic at-home sous vide applications.) I’ve long been hesitant about trying sous vide at home, but at $200 and no bigger than a handheld blender, the Joule fits into my kitchen and my culinary reach. The problem: I haven’t actually bought one yet. I’ll be looking for a holiday special at chefsteps.com/joule just like everyone else.
More than one reader emailed this year to say they liked “Dinner Made Simple: 35 Everyday Ingredients, 350 Easy Recipes” by the editors of Real Simple Magazine (Oxmoor House, $24.95). Those recipe writers know exactly how to develop a dinner recipe so that it appeals in the economy of ingredients, technique and time.
Visual learners and design nerds will love Julia Rothman’s “Food Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of Our Edible World” (Storey Publishing, $16.95). The illustrator teamed with Rachel Wharton to explain the history, origin and use of hundreds of dishes, ingredients, cooking implements and techniques that she has encountered during many years of traveling all over the world.
For creative kids, check out “Farmers Market Create-and-Play Activity Book” by Deanna F. Cook (Storey Publishing, $14.95), which will give you ideas for arts and crafts that enhance a child’s understanding of and interaction with a farmers market and their local food system.
If that farmers-market-loving kid of yours is now about to graduate from high school and is thinking about culinary school, might I suggest saving a few tens of thousands of dollars and buying him or her a copy of “Institut Paul Bocuse Gastronomique: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide to Culinary Excellence” (Hamlyn) from the culinary instructors at Institut Paul Bocuse in France. At $75, it’ll give the culinary student in your life a guidebook without the debt. Many chefs agree that they can learn the rest while working in a kitchen.
One of those advocates for cutting your teeth in a real-world kitchen is Anthony Bourdain, who is publishing his first cookbook in many years. “Appetites: A Cookbook” (Ecco, $37.50), which he wrote with Laurie Woolever, gives you a glimpse into the at-home culinary style of one of the world’s most well-traveled eaters who is also the dad of an almost middle-schooler. A no-brainer gift for the Bourdain fan in your life.
If you’re buying for new cooks who don’t necessarily want to go to culinary school, consider “What Good Cooks Know: 20 Years of Test Kitchen Expertise in One Essential Handbook” (America’s Test Kitchen, $29.95), from the very smart editors at America’s Test Kitchen, and the pocket-size “Stuff Every Cook Should Know” (Quirk Books, $9.99) by newspaper columnist and cookbook author Joy Manning.
What food books do you love giving and getting this time of year? I’d love to hear about them. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-912-2504.