Food is for sharing, and so are books, and with the holidays fast approaching and more new titles on store shelves, it’s never a bad idea to combine the two. Here are some to add to your wish list, or gift list – the best part about giving someone close to you a cookbook? The potential returns on your investment.
Set for the Holidays with Anna Olson: Recipes to Bring Comfort and Joy
By Anna Olson
Published by Appetite by Random House, $40
Bakers and home entertainers will rejoice in Anna’s latest – a beautiful instructional book geared toward feeding your people over the holidays. While it’s largely focused on baking, desserts and celebratory spreads, it also tackles those in-between mealtimes, when there are leftovers to deal with or you’ve had altogether too much trifle and need a crisp Brussels sprout salad. There’s a chocolate-orange bundt fruitcake with the potential to sway even the most steadfast fruitcake-haters. And besides her usual easy-to-follow recipes, there are useful tips, made-ahead instructions and packaging ideas for edible gifts.
By Lisa Dawn Bolton
Published by Appetite, $25
Food stylist Lisa Dawn Bolton revolutionizes party nibbles for the culinarily uninclined (and those who don’t want to be tied to the kitchen) with a book of food arrangements that can be set out with minimum effort and have maximum impact. Beyond cheese and charcuterie, there are culturally themed, plant-based brunch and dessert boards, and while you can get away without any actual cooking, there are a few dozen recipes for dips, spreads, spiced nuts and even chocolate salami that you can a) make ahead, and b) will make your board less boring.
Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts
By David McMillan, Frédéric Morin and Meredith Erickson
Published by Appetite by Random House, $50
The proprietors of Montreal’s Joe Beef prepare for an apocalypse of the digital age with modern versions of recipes you might come across in centuries-old cookbooks. It illustrates the collision of old-timey and contemporary-trendy with cedar-infused gin, soap made from beef fat and spruce cough drops. It’s not all foraged from the Canadian backcountry; present-day conveniences seep in with Minute Rice risotto, peaches topped with canned Carnation cream and compound butter made with a crushed gas-station bag of all-dressed potato chips. (It’s a Quebec thing.)
Home Made Christmas
By Yvette van Boven
Published by Abrams, $44
Author, illustrator and Dutch TV personality Yvette van Boven is back with the latest in her Home Made series. Her irresistibly homey style fits perfectly with a holiday theme; the dishes aren’t overly styled or precious, and the more than 100 recipes, suited to all sorts of holiday scenarios, are innovative (beets, smoked curd and roasted buckwheat), hip (Christmas negronis with pine syrup) and classic (Pavlova trifle with roasted pears), and while it is unmistakably Christmas-focused, I can envision pulling it off the shelf at all times of the year.
The Noma Guide to Fermentation
By René Redzepi and David Zilber
Published by Artisan, $60
Chef René Redzepi, co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen, and David Zilber, the chef who runs Noma’s fermentation lab, collaborated on this 450-page compendium on the art of fermentation. With more than 100 recipes, 500 photos and illustrations and never-before-revealed techniques they use to build Noma’s own collection of ferments, it’s an education for anyone interested in pushing beyond pickles and kimchi, and will help not only with the technicalities of the fermentation process, but what to do with the contents of all those jars you’ll inevitably fill your own pantry with.