Gifts for food lovers: Books for cooks (Recipe: slow-roasted tomato pesto)
Part Five of an eight-part series.
There are two schools of thought about giving cookbooks to people who love to cook.
Give the classics, the books that last forever.
Or, give the new, the trendy, the books that are hot hot hot right now, the books everyone is talking about, the books laden with photographs, printed on expensive paper, objets for a coffee table, the beautiful, irresistible cookbooks.
Me? I'm from both schools.
Like many food lovers, I enjoy reading cookbooks as much as I like to try the recipes in them. Park me on the couch on a rainy afternoon, with a cup of coffee and a warm blanket, and I'll happily read about molecular gastronomy, the history of the hamburger, apprenticing in a French hotel kitchen, or enchanted broccoli forests.
Good general cookbooks (for all cooks)
- The Joy of Cooking (every cook should have this)
- Martha Stewart's Cooking School
- The New Basics, by Sheila Lukens and Julee Rosso (The Silver Palate girls)
- Everyday Great Food Fast, by Everyday Food Magazine
- Fine Cooking Annual, volumes 1 and 2
- How to Cook Everything (revised edition), by Mark Bittman
- Nantucket Open House Cookbook, by Sarah Leah Chase
- Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
- Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison
- Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin
Cooking for families
- Kids in the Holiday Kitchen, by Mark Strand
- Cooking Italian with Kids, by Liz Franklin
- The River Cottage Family Cookbook, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
- Vegan Lunch Box, by Jennifer McCann
- American Grub: Eats for Kids from All 50 States, by Lynn Kuntz, Jan Fleming, and Mark A. Hicks
- Kitchen Playdates: Easy Ideas for Entertaining That Includes the Kids, by Laura Bank Deen
- Picture Yourself Cooking with Your Kids, by Beth Sheresh
For experienced cooks
- Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (a beautiful gift from Kalyn when she visited me in Boston)
- The Complete Robuchon, by Joel Robuchon
- Charcuterie: The Craft Of Salting, Smoking, And Curing, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
For experimental cooks
- Alinea, by Grant Aschatz
- A Day at El Bulli, by Ferran Adria
Ethnic cuisine classics, old and new
- Dok Suni, by Jenny Kwak and Liz Fried
- Couscous and other good foods from Morocco, by Paula Wolfert
- Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon, by Claudia Roden
- Rick Bayless Mexican Kitchen, by Rick Bayless
- Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni
- The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore, by Grace Young and Alan Richardson
- Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan
- The Foods and Wines of Spain, by Penelope Casas and Oscar Ochoa
- A Taste of Old Cuba: More Than 150 Recipes for Delicious, Authentic, and Traditional Dishes, by Maria Josefa O'higgins
Rare, collectible, unusual, and out-of-print cookbooks
- Abe Books: The Top 10 Weirdest Cookbooks
- Manhattan Rare Book Company: Les Diners de Gala, by Salvador Dali, signed. $4,400. A bit of a splurge.
- Kitchen Arts & Letters: more than 12,000 volumes, to browse at the store in New York City or order by phone.
- Eagle Trading Company: no web site, but call owner Chuck Williams at (508) 644-9880 if you're looking for something special. This little shop, in a small village north of Fall River, Massachusetts, is my secret source, but I'm happy to share it with you.
Reference books a food lover might not have
- Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany, by Ben Schott
- The World's Healthiest Foods, Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating, by George Mateljan
- Cookwise and Bakewise, by Shirley O. Corriher
You'll discover lots of wonderful books (travel, history, romance) on Bookworms in the Pantry, our readers' list of more than 100 non-cookbooks for food lovers.
Cookbooks by food bloggers
- Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanson
- Chocolate & Zucchini, by Clotilde Dusoulier
- Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back...And How You Can Too, by Shauna James Ahern
- The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz
- Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers: Classic Recipes Redefined, by Amy Sherman
Afraid your favorite food lover already has every cookbook she or he could possibly need? Never fear -- a cook will always find room, somewhere, for one more book.
And a gift certificate from Jessica's Biscuit, where even brand new cookbooks are always discounted 30-70%, doesn't take up any room at all.
Slow-roasted tomato pesto
If you didn't get some slow-roasted tomatoes into your freezer this summer, use sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe, from Diana Henry's Crazy Water Pickled Lemons. Makes enough pesto for 4 servings of pasta, or a great slather on bruschetta.
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 slow-roasted tomato halves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced (if your slow-roasted tomatoes have garlic, cut this to 1 clove)
2-1/2 oz blanched almonds
Large handful of basil leaves
Leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh oregano
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
2-1/2 oz extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz pecorino cheese, grated
Place first seven ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse until coarsely chopped, adding the oil slowly as you go. (Should be more coarse than a traditional genovese basil pesto.) Remove to a mixing bowl, and stir in the cheese.