The Gift That Keeps On Giving

People are always asking me for cookbook recommendations. Maybe it's because I'm a chef, but more likely it's because I own over 1200 cookbooks and counting. With the holidays quickly approaching, I thought this might be a good time to offer up some suggestions based on some of my recent favorites.

For food enthusiasts, aspiring gourmands and anyone with the passion and patience for cooking I recommend Momofuku, by David Chang or The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, by Heston Blumenthal. Momofuku is a foray into the creative Korean-fusion cuisine of the Momofuku restaurants in New York City (Ko, Ssam Bar, Noodle Bar and Milk Bar.) The recipes are often ingredient laden and task daunting, but for ambitious cooks the results will be well worth the effort put forth. The Big Fat Duck cookbook ventures into the genius, twisted mind of one of the chefs on the forefront of the newest culinary trend, molecular gastronomy. For the cook who is interested in making foams and gels, or happens to have a canister of liquid nitrogen laying around, this book is bubbling over with creative and unusual recipes and offers a good deal of insight into what this style of cuisine is really all about. With a price tag of around $200.00, however, this book is only for those people you really like a lot!

The cook on your list with a passion for ethnic cuisine is sure to love Turquoise, by Greg and Lucy Malouf. This book, one of the most beautiful I've ever seen, focuses on the food of Turkey, as well as its history and diverse culture. It contains stunning photographs and is wholly deserving of a prime spot atop the coffee table. But before it ends up there, be sure to suggest that the recipient take into the kitchen so they can try out the numerous delicious recipes.

For the amateur bread baker on your list, I recommend Jim Lahey's My Bread. Lahey offersfoolproof recipes for homemade breads that are so delicious, it's hard to believe that something so simple could taste so good. Even those who have never baked a loaf of bread in their lives are certain to have great success with this book.

Finally, for the dessert lover on your list, try Martha Stewart's Cupcakes or The Craft of Baking, by Karen DeMasco. While the first offers an endless variety of ideas for the trendiest dessert of the past few years, the second offers a wonderful mix of classic dessert favorites and exciting new ideas.

In this economy, do you really want to give another knickknack that will sit in the back of a closet for five years until it's re-gifted? Instead, why not give something this year that your family and friends can really use and that you'll feel good about giving. And who knows, maybe you’ll even be the recipient of some delicious food as a result.