Cookbooks make great holiday gifts for family and friends. Here are some of my favorites from 2009 that will impress home cooks and aspiring chefs alike.
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"Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book" by Chris Lilly
Clarkson Potter, $24.99
This is a book for both the serious barbecue fanatic as well as the beginning cook. It is based on years of experience from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Ala., as well as knowledge learned on the competition trail. I met Chris Lilly at the Memphis in May competition years ago and was so impressed that I had him on my show and adapted one of his recipes for my first book. There are a wide range of recipes in here. Meat lovers will rejoice.
"My Bread" by Jim Lahey
W.W. Norton, $29.95
From the man who popularized the no-knead bread-making method made popular by Mark Bittman in an article in The New York Times, comes this very accessible book for the home cook. As advertised, there is no kneading involved. You just mix the ingredients and then let the bread rise slowly. There are many delicious variations to choose from. "My Bread" will get nonbakers baking. After all, what is better than home-baked bread?
"The $5 Dinner Mom" by Erin Chase
St Martin's Griffin, $14.99
Erin shows you how to size up the best supermarket deals, clip coupons that will really save you money and create a weekly dinner menu plan. She lists prices for all the ingredients and offers hundred of appealing recipes based on fresh foods.
"Family Feasts for $75 a Week" by Mary Ostyn
Oxmoor House, $17.95
A pennywise mom shares her recipe for cutting hundreds of dollars from your monthly food bill. Ostyn has 10 children, and so she really has to manage her food dollars. She offers amazing information on navigating the food aisles and tons of general tips. This is a great how-to for cooking healthy affordable meals.
"Kitchen Express" by Mark Bittman
Simon and Schuster, $26
There are two kinds of cooks: Those who like to follow a detailed recipe exactly, and those who like to improvise. This book is for the latter, which includes me. The recipes are written in a casual fashion without exact amounts or times. They are meant to be ideas -- starting off points. It will provide just enough inspiration to help you plan and cook dinner.
"Well Preserved" by Eugenia Bone
Clarkson Potter, $24.95
Given these lean economic times, more and more people are not only growing their own fruits and vegetables, they are also canning, freezing and preserving them. As someone who has always been sure I would kill someone if I tried to "put up" and serve some jam or tomatoes, this book is the perfect no-scary guide with really good-looking homey recipes.
"Gluten Free Italian" by Jacqueline Mallorca
Lifelong Books, $18.95
Many of Italy's best-loved foods contain wheat flour, so they have been off limits for the gluten intolerant. Mallorca has tackled this problem head on and transformed and lightened traditional recipes for fresh pasta, rustic breads and desserts so that they are delicious but also wheat-free.