Dec. 22, 2009 -- 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.
"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.
"The New York Times Cookbook" by Amanda Hesser
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.
"In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love" by Melissa Clark
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.
"Heart of the Artichoke" by David Tanis
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.
"Radically Simple" by Rozanne Gold
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.
"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.
"Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera" by Delores Custer
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
"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."
"Sarabeth's Bakery" by Sarabeth Levine with Rick Rodgers
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.
"Sweet Magic: Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts" by Michel Richard with Peter Kaminsky
Harper Collins, $27.50
In this little gem of a dessert book Michel Richard, an accomplished all-around chef (he is the rare expert of both sweet and savory recipes) has given us recipes that are totally within the reach of the home baker, yet appear to be made by a culinary genius.
"The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion" by Bill Yosses with Melissa Clark
Bill is currently the pastry chef at the White House but he has worked in the industry for years. These are his all-time favorite desserts, fancy and simple, that are French, American, Asian or Latin inspired. He offers dessert for every occasion.
"Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy" by Alice Medrich
The title says it all. The book is organized by the texture of the cookie which makes it very easy to find just the cookie you are in the mood for making. It is a fun, inventive book with come hither recipes.
Web Extra: 15 More Great Cookbooks to Gift This Christmas
"What to Cook & How to Cook it" by Jane Hornby, Phaidon, $39.95
A step by step illustrated cookbook that makes it very easy to prepare recipes for every occasion, from the lunch box to the dinner party.
"Perfect One Dish Dinners" by Pam Anderson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $32
Casseroles, stews, roasting pan dinners and salads, with everything in one dish. Plus, extra recipes if you want to serve something more.
"Falling Off the Bone" by Jean Anderson, Wiley, $29.95
160 stick-to-your-rib recipes featuring the tougher cuts of meat and elevating them to mouthwatering tenderness.
"Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40
A beautiful book celebrating French cuisine that will make you want to pick up and move to Paris.
"Pig: King of Southern Table" by James Villas, Wiley, $34.95
300 tasty recipes from every nook of the south from a southerner who knows a few things about cooking pork.
"Good to the Grain" by Kim Boyce with Amy Scattergood, Stewart Tabori and Chang, $29.95
Whole-grain recipes (featuring 12 kinds of whole grain flours) that prove just how tasty healthy baking can be.
"The Gourmet Cookie Book " by Gourmet Editors, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18
The single best recipe from each year 1941- 2009, and a history of our love of cookies as well.