Great Last-Minute Gifts: Best Cookbooks of 2010

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Cookbooks make great holiday gifts for family and friends. Here are some of my favorites from 2010 that are sure to please home cooks and artisinal chefs alike.

Cookbooks

"One Big Table" by Molly O'Neil
Simon and Schuster, $50
It took Molly 10 years to make this book which includes 600 recipes from home cooks, farmers, fishermen, pit masters and chefs. She traveled around the country collecting recipes and getting the stories behind them and ended up with this fascinating portrait of American cooking.

Cookbooks

"The New York Times Cookbook" by Amanda Hesser
Norton, $40
Amanda culled through all the recipes that had appeared in the Times going back to the 1850's and asked readers to weigh in as well. She tested over 1,400 and ended up with a collection of the most noteworthy. There is an enormous variety – classic, family and international recipes to choose from.

Cookbooks

"In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love" by Melissa Clark
Hyperion, $27.50
I love the stories in this book almost as much as the recipes. Melissa has a relaxed style when it comes to dinner with chapters such as "Waffling Toward Dinner" (aka breakfast for dinner), "Things with Cheese," and "My Mother's Sandwich Theory of Life." It is a quirky, fun cookbook.

Cookbooks

"Heart of the Artichoke" by David Tanis
Artisan, $35
Another very personal, quirky book from an author who spends 6 months of the year heading up the kitchen at the legendary Chez Panisse in San Francisco, and the other 6 months living in Paris. It is organized by seasons and features menus for simple rustic meals with a final chapter on "feasts" or cooking for a crowd. It is a cozy, escapist cookbook.

Cookbooks

"Radically Simple" by Rozanne Gold
Rodale, $35
This woman, who has been known for her very clever 3 ingredient cookbooks, has expanded to 6 or even 8 ingredients in this new book. But even so, these are quick recipes that neither look nor taste like you threw them together. And they work equally well for weeknight meals or for entertaining.

Cookbooks

"Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge" by Grace Young
Simon and Schuster, $35
Grace traveled all over Southeast Asia to find these 100 recipes. The history and technique alone make the book worthwhile but what struck me about the recipes was: 1. How much variety there is in stir fry recipes; 2. How many vegetables you can pack into a stir fry recipe; 3. How healthy and economical this method of cooking is.

Cookbooks

"Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera" by Delores Custer
Wiley, $75
This is the definitive tome on food styling from the woman who practically invented the craft. She is revered in the industry. Delores tells you everything you need to know to become a successful food stylist.

Best Cookbooks of 2010

Cookbooks

"Mastering the Art of French Cooking" Edited by Joan Reardon
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40
A collection of letters, starting in 1952, between Julia Child and her literary mentor Avis de Voto that chronicles her life during the years she was putting together her great first cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

Cookbooks

"Sarabeth's Bakery" by Sarabeth Levine with Rick Rodgers
Rizzoli, $39.95
Sarabeth Levine has several legendary bakeries in New York City and she is known for her fabulous down-home pastries and her jams. This book, her first, is for the serious baker, whether you are a novice or experienced. It's beautiful looking with many helpful how-to photos.

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