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
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).
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
Gift to go with: Avocado oil (bellavado.com)
Gift to go with: A pairing from the book, naturally; one of our favorites: Alaskan Amber Ale and Beecher’s Flagship Reserve
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.)
Gift to go with: A digital scale
Gift to go with: California artichokes (pezzinifarms.com)
Gift to go with: A trio of Mediterranean staples: excellent olives, salt-packed anchovies, and salt-packed capers
Gift to go with: Chez Panisse fruit or vegetable notecards by the book’s illustrator, artist Patricia Curtan
Gift to go with: A gorgeous ceramic pâté crock
Gift to go with: Sourdough bread
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)
Gift to go with: A fancy cake stand
Gift to go with: A local CSA membership
Gift to go with: A rolling pin and rolling-pin guides, for perfectly even crackers