Cookbooks make terrific holiday gifts. They are travelogues taking you around the globe. They educate you on ethnic and regional cuisines and introduce you to new foods and flavors. And they are entertaining, offering tips and methodology on being the perfect host. Cookbooks make personal and practical gifts, especially for the holidays.
In looking over the many best cookbooks 2011 lists from different resources, Epicurious.com appeared to have the most diverse choices that every homemaker would love to have on the kitchen counter. According to Epicurious, its staff recognizes the importance and cherished position of traditional print cookbooks in the home kitchen.
According to the Epicurious report, it wasn’t easy to narrow down this year’s list as there were so many good and informative cookbooks. One title omitted, yet worth a mention, is the six-volume set, Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold, an exhaustive, encyclopedic collection that lists at $625. However, for the true cookbook connoisseur, it is a must-have, not only for the techniques but for the photography.
The Epicurious top 10 picks cover a broad spectrum of specialties and styles of cooking, reflecting current and upcoming trends and tastes. Factors in the decision-making process were photography, evocative storytelling, clear and concise instructions and delicious food. As Hanukkah and Christmas time approaches, here is the Epicurious staff picks for the 10 best cookbooks of 2011.
The list is in alphabetical order with some excerpts and descriptions from Epicurious and Amazon.com/cookbooks 2011:
Cook This Now by Melissa Clark (Hyperion)
Clark, the New York Times Dining Section columnist, offers a calendar year’s worth of brand-new recipes for cooking with fresh, local ingredients–replete with lively and entertaining stories of feeding her own family and friends. Gwyneth Paltrow calls it a “must for any passionate home cook,” while former New York Times food writer, Amanda Hesser comments, “Melissa’s smart, welcoming style and love of food infuse this wonderful cookbook.”
Cooking seasonally isn’t a new concept, but Melissa Clark’s take on the genre is irresistible.(Epicurious.com)
Cooking Without Borders by Anita Lo (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
In her first book, Lo offers more than 100 recipes celebrating the best flavors from around the globe, including chapters on appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts. These recipes show home cooks everywhere how easy it is to think globally and prepare creative and delicious food. Now that we have greater access than ever before to ingredients from all corners of the world, there’s no better time to enjoy these flavors at every meal, presented by one of our country’s most innovative chefs. Lo, owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant in Manhattan, annisa, refers to her cooking as “Contemporary American.”
Heston Blumenthal at Home by Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury)
Until now, home cooking has remained radically out of touch with the technological developments that characterize the rest of modern life. This is the book to prove that science can dramatically improve the way we eat. Having spent years refining his analytical and imaginative approach at his Fat Duck three-Michelin star restaurant in Berkshire, England, Blumenthal is uniquely qualified to bring the benefits of science to the domestic kitchen. Both time-saving and energy-efficient, his methods unlock the alchemical potential of flavor and taste.
The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain (Hyperion)
When Lisa Fain, a seventh-generation Texan, moved to New York City, she missed the big sky, the bluebonnets in spring, Friday night football, and her family’s farm. But most of all, she missed the foods she’d grown up with. In 2006, Fain started the blog Homesick Texan to share Texan food with fellow expatriates, and the site immediately connected with readers worldwide, Texan and non-Texan alike. Now, in her long-awaited first cookbook, Fain brings the comfort of Texan home cooking to you. So pull up a chair–everyone’s welcome at the Texas table.
Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion)
A revolutionary approach to cooking good food fast. In describing his book, Oliver says that he is going to show you how to put a whole meal on the table in a matter of minutes. Not just one dish, a whole spread of beautiful things. In this book he shows you how to make a complete meal in the time you’d normally spend on one dish. What you’ll be able to achieve in 30 minutes or less, he claims, will absolutely blow your mind.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan)
“Ice cream perfection in a word: Jeni’s.” –WashingtonPost
At last, addictive flavors, and a breakthrough method for making creamy, scoopable ice cream at home, from the proprietor of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, whose artisanal scooperies in Ohio are nationally acclaimed for unique, seasonal flavors like Bangkok Peanut, Wildberry Lavender, Beet Cake with Black Walnuts.
Mourad by Mourad Lahlou (Artisan)
Moroccan cuisine, which is currently hot and trendy, was first brought to Americans’ attention by the legendary Paula Wolfert. Mourad Lahlou, awarded a Michelin star for his eponymous San Francisco restaurant in 2010, has developed a new, modern Moroccan cuisine. He is inspired by memories that are steeped in colorful stories. His book is anything but a dutifully “authentic” documentation of Moroccan home cooking. The great classics – basteeya, couscous, preserved lemons and more – are all included. However, Mourad adapts them in stunningly creative ways that take a Moroccan idea to a whole new place. The 100-plus recipes, lavishly illustrated with food and location photography offers engaging text with a rare blend of heat, heart, and palate.
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books)
Sometimes it takes an outsider to shed new light on a well-worn topic: Meat-eating chef Yotam Ottolenghi makes vegetarian cooking sexy and exciting again. (Epicurious.com)
Ottolenghi is one of the most exciting new talents in the cooking world, with four fabulous, eponymous London restaurants and a weekly newspaper column that’s read by foodies all over the world. Plenty, inspired by his Mediterranean background, is a must-have collection of 120 vegetarian recipes featuring exciting flavors and fresh combinations that will delight readers and eaters looking for a sparkling new take on vegetables. Vibrant photos accompany every recipe to create a visually stunning book.
Ruhlman’s Twenty by Michael Ruhlman (Chronicle Books)
Ruhlman’s new cookbook reveals how to be a successful cook by using his 20 basic concepts. His rule number one – think first.
With the illuminating expertise that has made him one of the most esteemed food journalists, Ruhlman explains the hows and whys of each concept and details each with 100 recipes for everything from soups to desserts, all detailed in photographs by his wife, Donna Turner Ruhlman.
Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez (Wiley)
Mexican cuisine is an American favorite from coast to coast, but many people are too intimidated to try cooking real Mexican meals in their own kitchens. In Truly Mexican, Roberto Santibañez shows you that it’s the flavors that are complex, not the cooking. With effortless preparations and fresh, flavorful ingredients, Mexican home cooking can be simple and simply delicious.Truly Mexican features 128 recipes for authentic Mexican favorites, a useful Sources section to help readers track down authentic Mexican ingredients and straightforward instructions on essential techniques like roasting chiles and making fresh tortillas.
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