37 favorite cookbook gifts These beautiful, well-tested, inspiring cookbooks by Western authors make wonderful presents on their own, but we’ve gone a step further. Each is paired with a related ingredient or tool, making an extra-thoughtful package For the proud American Tanya Holland’s book about her Oakland restaurant, Brown Sugar Kitchen, isn’t just a collection of outstanding recipes—like her famous fried chicken and feather-light, crunchy waffles. It’s a window into a wonderful, welcoming place where people of all backgrounds and persuasions sit together, eat, and become a community. Gift to go with: Round Belgian wafflemaker (amazon.com). Pinterest For the timid bread baker At last, a bread-baking book that combines technical expertise with conversational warmth! Della Fattoria Bread brings baker Kathleen Weber right into readers’ kitchens, guiding them with friendly, clear instruction (including “Courage in the Kitchen” sidebars to underscore vital techniques) and how-to photos. This is no terrifying textbook. Gift to go with: Kitchen scale (myweigh.com) For the taco hound Food writer Sara Desaran wears a second hat: She’s co-owner of the Bay Area’s wildly popular Tacolicious restaurants. With Tacolicious the book, readers everywhere can make drippy, spicy, tasty tacos of every type, plus salsas, cocktails, salads, and a lot more. Gift to go with: A bag of dried cascabel, guajillo, or ancho chiles—or all three! (any Mexican grocery store, or mexgrocer.com) For the sandwich seeker An entire cookbook devoted to Vietnamese sandwiches—the banh mi—may seem a bit extreme, but these recipes are so terrific and well-tested that a cooking voyage to banh mi land is worth the trip. Plus, The Banh Mi Handbook includes dozens of fillings that could stand alone as main courses (like delectable crispy roast pork). Gift to go with: Chinese five-spice powder (any well-stocked grocery store or spicely.com) For the pasta perfectionist So obsessed with homemade pasta perfection is Thomas McNaughton, chef at San Francisco’s Flour+Water, that he keeps chickens on the roof of the restaurant, feeding them carrots to produce the proper deep-orange yolks. Flour +Water: Pasta has step-by-step photos and a phalanx of wonderful, authentic seasonal recipes that will get readers kneading in no time. Gift to go with: Fluted wheel cutter for fresh pasta sheets (williams-sonoma.com) For the farm-to-table dreamer Colorado chef Eric Skokan raises everything from Highland cattle to Toulouse geese on his farm near Boulder, plus 250 types of fruits and vegetables, and distills it all in his book Farm Fork Food. The recipes are often surprisingly simple, yet adventurous: try his heirloom carrot soup with coconut mousse, or Chinese-spiced beef pot au feu. Gift to go with: sustainable-meat gift box (aglocal.com) For the breakfast queen Santa Monica pastry chef Zoe Nathan’s first cookbook, Huckleberry, brims with the specialties responsible for the long line leading into her bakery-café. The brioche recipe alone is worth the price of this book. Gift to go with: A 5-by-9-inch loaf pan. For anyone bored by vegetables L.A. author Martha Rose Shulman created the Recipes for Health column for The New York Times, and writes for the home cook better than just about anyone else; her recipes are a breeze to make and always inspiring. The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking gives readers techniques for basic dishes like stir-fries or risotto, and then offers easy, tempting variations. Gift to go with: Unusual dried beans (ranchogordo.com) For the Pacific Northwest fan Washed in the moody, bluish light of Seattle in the rain, A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus is like a poem to a place. Chef Renee Erickson’s recipes are anything but cool, though—they’re gusty and luscious and doable for the home cook. An unusually personable and beautiful book. Gift to go with: Boat Street Pickles (Erickson’s company; boatstreetpickles.com) For the newbie cook Actually, Chez Panisse chef Cal Peternell’s Twelve Recipes is a brilliant refresher course for cooks of any level, and delves deep into the nooks and crannies of technique, from toast to roasted chicken. Readers who work their way through this book will be happier, better cooks. Gift to go with: A salad spinner. For the edible gardener The L.A.-based founders of the blog whiteonricecouple.com have created a lovely, homey collection, Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden, filled with affection for growing, cooking, party giving—and each other.Gift to go with: Baby citrus tree (fourwindsgrowers.com) For the locavore Manresa: An Edible Reflection is a stunning first cookbook—almost an art object—from the Northern California restaurant known for its use of local ingredients, many from its own farm. The recipes are complex but very clearly written and easy to follow, and you’ll definitely want to.Gift to go with: Avocado oil (bellavado.com) For the bread baker A stunning new book from San Francisco’s most famous breadmaker, Tartine Book No. 3 opens up the possibilities for whole-grain baking like no other book before it—from dark, seed- and berry-studded Danish-style rye bread to ethereally beautiful kamut crispbread, inlaid with herbs and flowers. Bonuses: A concisely edited master method for Tartine Bakery’s iconic country loaf, and pastry recipes from Robertson’s wife and bakery partner, Liz.Gift to go with: A bag of freshly milled wheat flour (bluebirdgrainfarms.com to purchase or communitygrains.com for retailers) For the pairings pursuer In Cheese & Beer, veteran cookbook author and San Francisco Chronicle cheese columnist Janet Fletcher taps two delightful trends—the surge in craft beer and the steady swell of great artisanal cheese—and unites them. You’ll learn fundamentals of pairing but also get an overview of major beer styles and a primer on storing and serving both beer and cheese.Gift to go with: A pairing from the book, naturally; one of our favorites: Alaskan Amber Ale and Beecher’s Flagship Reserve For the East Coast transplant With The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home, learn to make your own bagels, pastrami, challah, babka, and more! You’ll get generous sides of history and lore too, like a wonderful ode to the deli by food historian and bookseller Nach Waxman. And not all the recipes are traditional. Backyard barbecue pastrami—why not? A few lively pages and you’ll be swept up in deliphilia.Gift to go with: A handsome jar of applesauce for the latkes on page 36. (Even better, buy your own copy and make Chunky Ginger Applesauce, page 38.) For the would-be chef Coi: Stories and Recipes is an unorthodox book from the chef and owner of Coi, a two-Michelin-star restaurant in San Francisco. Daniel Patterson is a wonderful, insightful, humble writer, and in these pages he describes the evolution of his restaurant and his approach to cooking in California. You probably won’t be making these recipes—they’re supremely cheffy and, as Patterson says, “more of an oral history than a factual accounting of a process”—but they are fascinating to read.Gift to go with: A digital scale For the history buff Taking us back to when fresh herbs were unknown, Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness is a terrific tale of how California shaped the way America eats today. Everyone from Julia Child to Thomas Keller shows up in its funny, revealing interviews.Gift to go with: California artichokes (pezzinifarms.com) For the thoughtful cook Goin’s first cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, was that rare book from a chef—a thoughtful, gorgeous compilation of delicious recipes that actually worked in a home kitchen. The A.O.C. Cookbook, named for her small-plates restaurant in Los Angeles, is just as considerate and tempting as its predecessor. Goin is a wonderful teacher, explaining how she layers flavors, chooses ingredients, and more, so that every recipe is like a small, enjoyable class with the master. With wine notes from A.O.C.’s wine director Caroline Styne.Gift to go with: A trio of Mediterranean staples: excellent olives, salt-packed anchovies, and salt-packed capers For the Alice Waters devotee After more than 40 years, Chez Panisse remains a defining cultural force, and Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden adds to the aura. Certainly garden-to-table cooking has been written about many times before, but Alice Waters has an irresistible persuasiveness like no one else and a passion more deeply rooted than most. “There is nothing more transformational than the experience of being in nature,” she writes. “We have been separated from it, but as soon as we dig our hands into the soil and start watching things grow, we fall in love effortlessly—we realize we are a part of nature … [and it] can be awakened in all of us.” The 300-some recipes are beautifully simple and intelligent, and you can practically taste their freshness as you scan the pages.Gift to go with: Chez Panisse fruit or vegetable notecards by the book’s illustrator, artist Patricia Curtan For the duck lover The man behind Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, an endearingly honest (and James Beard award–winning) blog, is passionate about duck and other wild fowl. Once you start reading (and cooking from) Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Duck and Geese, Both Wild and Domesticated—part field guide, part excellent recipe collection—you will be too. You may even end up echoing Shaw’s rallying cry: “Free yourself from the Tyranny of the Chicken”! P.S. Should you be gun-shy, you can make the recipes with domesticated birds too.Gift to go with: A gorgeous ceramic pâté crock For the urbanite The second in the Big City Food Biographies series (the first is on New Orleans), San Francisco: A Food Biography delves into the history, people, neighborhoods, restaurants, and iconic dishes that have made San Francisco one of the finest places to eat in the world. Peters, the director and cofounder of the Culinary Historians of Northern California, knows her subject thoroughly, but the text is anything but professorial. Instead, it’s zippy and enlightening, a complete pleasure to read.Gift to go with: Sourdough bread For the carnivore Can a cookbook be an act of generosity? Yes, in the case of In the Charcuterie: The Fatted Calf’s Guide to Making Sausage, Salumi, Pâtés, Roasts, Confits, and Other Meaty Goods. The Fatted Calf’s two shops in the San Francisco Bay Area sell cured meats of unsurpassed deliciousness, and its owners have very thoroughly and enticingly created this invitation to pick up the cleaver and join them. The DIY butcher section is particularly well thought out and demystifying.Gift to go with: A trio of salts used in charcuterie: fine-grained sea salt, coarse sea salt, and curing salt no. 1 (for bacon and ham, among other preserved meats) For the sweet tooth The smart, elegant dessert book Sweet, by the owner of L.A.’s Valerie Confections. is organized by how you eat your sweets: The cleverly named chapters include Pedestal (ta-da desserts), Box (chocolates and candies), Jar (cookies), and Hand (treats on the go).Gift to go with: A fancy cake stand For the veggie aficionado Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable is a lively invitation to get in on a trend that’s been busting out all over restaurant menus for the past few years. You’ll never look at a carrot quite the same way again.Gift to go with: A local CSA membership For the entertainer Who knew crackers could be this exciting? Just in time for New Year’s, Crackers & Dips: More Than 50 Handmade Snacks is full of surprises—Japanese rice crackers, seeded quinoa crackers, Vietnamese shrimp chips, fresh artichoke dip—plus the classics like tangy cheddar crackers.Gift to go with: A rolling pin and rolling-pin guides, for perfectly even crackers For the ultimate recipe collector Now there's a stylish place to stash all those recipes you've clipped from magazines and newspapers: Celia Sack's The Omnivore's Recipe Keeper. Embellished with food images culled from Celia's personal collection of vintage cookbooks (she owns Omnivore Books, in San Francisco), it's as beautiful as it is handy. For the from-scratch cook Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese describes the author's often funny attempts to make everything she and her family eat, from scratch. She tells you which foods are worth it—and which aren't. For the home brewer Make six-packs from scratch with the beautifully designed, effortlessly readable Beer Craft. This little guide that streamlines a complex task so that anyone can follow. Ideal for the first-time brewer but smart enough for the veteran, too. For the sustainability-minded parent Developed as a template for school cafeterias, Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools was written by award-winning cookbook writer Georgeanne Brennan, who worked with educational consultant Ann M. Evans to create crosscultural recipes that appeal to kids of any heritage. For the cult food trend follower It's practically impossible to get a seat at San Francisco's widly popular Mission Chinese Food, but the restaurant's new book, Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant gives a way to satisfy the craving. Lots of quirky restaurant-biz reflections, with fun comic-book illustrations. For the mushroom lover Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms takes you along as author Eugenia Bone (and parttime Colorado resident) describes her transformation from simple mushroom-eater to passionate fungi fan. Bone, a fantastic storyteller, weaves nitty-gritty biology and science effortlessly into her tales of mushroom hunting and cooking, and you may feel your jaw dropping a few times as you read your way deeper into a mystifying, fascinating world. A ripping good read. For the would-be pizzaiolo Finally, the genius behind Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza—venerated in Los Angeles for killer pizza and great Italian food, period—has published a cookbook. In it, Nancy Silverton took the best recipes from both restaurants and brings them all to you, along with expert tips and techniques for making gelato, pasta, pizza, and more. For the home cheesemaker Feed your cheese-loving friend's obsession with a gift of Artisan Cheesemaking at Home by longtime cheesemaking teacher Mary Karlin. It's easily the best cheesemaking book on the market—thorough, easy to follow, and friendly—with more than 80 recipes for homemade cheeses, from mascarpone to manchego. For the Chez Panisse fan Since the late 1970s, Patricia Curtan has been making letterpress menus for Chez Panisse, embellished with her graceful block prints of fruits and vegetables, birds, and flowers. Menus for Chez Panisse brings these beautiful creations together, along with the stories behind each dinner. It's a book any food lover will savor for hours. For the beginning forager Hank Shaw's beautifully written Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast introduces the pleasures of our original ways of getting food. Learn how to dig clams, pick nettles, hunt pheasant, and more. With over 50 recipes. For a fan of Greek cuisine Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors brings together the best recipes from the beloved San Francisco restaurant, known for superb Greek cooking with California ingredients. A warm, hospitable book, like the restaurant itself. For a budding butcher From San Francisco butcher Ryan Farr, whose classes sell out within hours of being announced, comes a fascinating step-by-step photographic guide to breaking down whole animals. Whole Beast Butchery: The Complete Visual Guide to Beef, Lamb, and Pork is packed with useful, illuminating techniques, and goes a long way toward demystifying the world of meat.