Cookbooks That'll Win Raves From the Relatives
Stumped by your holiday gift list? This year offers a smorgasbord of fine choices for all cooks - from the gourmet to the dabbler
Your cousin Enid has eloped with a motorcycle mechanic and is living in Duluth; your nephew Billy-Bob has left Nashville to become a hermit in Vermont; your spinster aunt LaWanda is raising goats outside Santa Fe; and your grandmother Eunice is sitting comfortably on her fortune on Park Avenue.Skip to next paragraph
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Probably the only thing your relatives have in common is that they have to eat. And what better gift for them than a cookbook. Like it or not, everyone's got to cook at one time or another. And the best part of giving a book is that one size fits all.
For newlyweds, college students, and singles, nothing beats the all-inclusive "Fanny Farmer," "Joy of Cooking," and "Doubleday." These (and others in the genre) are the classics, the ones with real staying power. Soiled with use, yellowed, and dogeared, they will move from apartment to apartment, home to home, state to state.
Then there are the lavishly photographed, oversized, expensive editions that seldom leave the living room coffee table. Lovely to look at, but don't dare get a drop of bearnaise sauce near them. Also popular are those smaller books that deal with specific foods, areas of the United States, and different countries.
The crop of cookbooks this year isn't quite as exciting or visually dramatic as in previous years, but there are several worth adding to your gift list, including a few from those trusted, perennial authors that deserve noting:
Leave it to award-winning author Lee Bailey to come up with another fine, attractive, and eminently doable book. Lee Bailey's Dinners at Home, (Clarkson Potter, 127 pp., $25) is his latest entry. Smaller than his previous cookbooks, it is nonetheless beautifully styled and attractively photographed by Tom Eckerle. This time Bailey offers nine well-planned menus, including vegetarian, complete with margin notes on time-saving techniques and tips on table setting. Helpful step-by-step photos are included where necessary.
If you've never heard of Martha Stewart, I'd like to welcome you to Planet Earth. Well known for her television programs, magazine, and lavishly styled and photographed books on everything from weddings to gardening, and especially cooking, Stewart took the easy way out this year. Easy for Martha Stewart anyway. The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day (Clarkson Potter, $27.50) is a compilation of more than 1,600 recipes from Stewart's past cookbooks. With no photographs, only a few how-to illustrations, and not even a picture of Martha herself (well, there is one on the dust cover), this book is a departure from her previous format. But not to worry, any serious groupie has the complete Stewart cookbook collection to refer to if you're not sure how the result should look.
Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M., is nothing less than a Southwestern icon. His Indian Market Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 217 pp., $27.95) brings together a number of dishes served at this acclaimed restaurant. Miller's imagination and flair is not lost in this book.
How does an entree of Pecan-Grilled Maple Duck With Velarde Apricot Chutney followed by Mexican Chocolate Silk Pie for desert sound? Not bad from a guy who grew up in New England. A glossary of ingredients and a list of sources help the novice find some of the more esoteric ingredients.
Roasting is probably the simplest method of cooking: Set the oven, throw in the bird, set the timer. Done. In Barbara Kafka's latest book, Roasting: A Simple Art (William Morrow & Co., 452 pp., $25), Ms. Kafka shelves the microwave and turns us on to high-temperature roasting in the conventional-style oven. "I believe in hot ovens, short roasting times, and rare meat," she says. She does this by jacking up the heat to 500 degrees F. This way meats and vegetables are sealed and caramelized, not steamed, she believes. Along with tips on roasting are recipes for salsas, salads, and stuffings.