Gift Guide: In Good Books

Cooking titles for everyone on the list

One of the perks of the job of any cookbook-loving food writer is access to review copies of new cookbook titles released every year. But, alas, the personal culinary library can only hold so many volumes before they literally take over the house.

However, cookbooks do make great Christmas gifts – what could be better than putting a carefully selected title into the hands of a cook who will really make use of it? In the spirit of giving, and shelf space, that's just what I'm doing this year.

PRUNE

by Gabrielle Hamilton
Random House, 576 pp, $45

Chef Hamilton shares years worth of recipes from her wildly successful, tiny bistro on New York's Lower East Side. She describes the food at Prune as essentially “home cooking in a restaurant setting,” and the book is produced to resemble a working chef's notebook, complete with fingerprint stains and detailed margin notes to the cooks who produce each dish. My retired chef friend Suzann Dvorken will enjoy a vicarious stage in the Prune kitchen, putting her own stains on these pages.




BLUE CHAIR COOKS WITH JAM AND MARMALADE

by Rachel Saunders
Andrews McMeel, 368 pp, $45

Blue Chair Fruit is an artisan jam company in Oakland, CA, that is highly regarded as one of the best in the country. In her newest book, founder Rachel Saunders offers 150 recipes for using jams and marmalades as key ingredients in every dish. Frequent Austin Chronicle contributor Kate Thornberry is an avid gardener and home canner with a larder fully stocked with her own jams. This one's for her.





SPECIAL DAY COOKING: A LIFE SKILLS COOKBOOK

by Beverly W. Palomba
Special Day Publishing, 160 pp, $19.95

The author developed this book during her career as an educator working with children with special needs. The recipes are presented simply, in large print, with easy-to-follow instructions that include assembling the necessary ingredients and equipment before beginning each project. While no one would mistake these dishes for haute cuisine, they offer youngsters with special needs the opportunity to feed themselves while developing necessary life skills and a genuine sense of accomplishment. Do you know a parent or teacher who could put this book to good use at home or in the classroom?


THE HOMESICK TEXAN'S FAMILY TABLE: LONE STAR COOKING FROM MY TABLE TO YOURS

by Lisa Fain
Ten Speed Press, 277 pp, $29.95

Texas ex-pat Lisa Fain has built her blogging career sharing recipes for quintessential Texas dishes. Her second cookbook traces the development of her personal culinary aesthetic to her family's cooking for special occasions. While some of the recipes appear to have been retooled from her first book, they are well-tested, accessible, and packed with flavor (most notably, chipotle peppers). My young friend Eric Panter cooks regularly with the church youth group he leads. Knowing how to make some of Fain's recipes will help with homesickness when and if they go away to college.



THE POLLAN FAMILY TABLE: THE BEST RECIPES AND KITCHEN WISDOM FOR DELICIOUS, HEALTHY FAMILY MEALS

by Corky, Lori, Dana, and Tracy Pollan; forward by Michael Pollan
Scribner, 352 pp, $30

Though some of the Pollan family members are celebrities in their own right (magazine and newspaper food writer/ Mom Corky, actress Tracy, and author Michael), this is no celebrity chef tome. This collection of time-tested family recipes, cooking tips, and kitchen wisdom was assembled by a large family for whom healthy cooking and family dining are an important aspect of daily life. It's practical, useful, and approachable. My busy niece and nephew with three kids should enjoy cooking with the Pollan's.
READ MORE
More Gift Guide 2014
It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas
It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas
Jingle Bell Rocks! spins under the musical mistletoe

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 24, 2014

Gift Guide: Local Flavor
Gift Guide: Local Flavor
2014's best regional cookbooks – for giving and keeping

Brandon Watson, Dec. 8, 2014

More by Virginia B. Wood
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Open Secret
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The not-so-hidden pleasures of dine

Dec. 25, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Gift Guide 2014, Gabrielle Hamilton, Prune, Rachel Saunders, Blue Chair Fruit, Beverly Palomba, Lisa Fain, Homesick Texan, Corky Pollan, Lori Pollan, Dana Pollan, Tracy Pollan, Michael Pollan

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