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10 cookbooks for your favorite home chef

Satisfy foodies your holiday gift list with cookbook. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times Media

Satisfy the foodies on your holiday gift list with a cookbook. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 10, 2013 2:03AM



Some of the year’s best cookbooks, perfect for holiday gift giving, offer something that will satisfy the foodies on your list whether they’re novices or veteran home chefs.

Any of them are worthy contenders for one’s cookbook library:

‘Aida Mollenkamp’s
Keys to the Kitchen’

(Chronicle Books, $35)

Food expert Aida Mollenkamp’s new book, a self-help resource for the kitchen, is just the ticket at a time when once commonplace basic culinary skills have been replaced by frozen convenience foods and takeout orders.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’

(Alfred A. Knopf, $35)

Self-taught cook Deb Perelman works culinary magic in a postage-stamp-size Manhattan kitchen, but she’s widely known through her popular food blog that draws a whopping 8 million views a month. Perelman’s debut book contains tutorials and more than 100 recipes, both new and a few favorites from her website.

The author shares her secrets for everything from light-as-a-feather gnocchi to the perfect birthday cake and the best roast chicken.

‘Herbivoracious’

(Harvard Common Press, $24.95)

Food blogger Michael Natkin makes a good case for how globally inspired flavors and a flurry of creative, sophisticated new recipes have sparked interest in a vegetarian lifestyle.

His vibrant recipes surpass generations of mundane tofu and lentil loafs. Examples of his “new generation” fare include Caramelized Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini; Persimmon, Parsley and Olive Salad; and Swiss Chard and Tomatillo Enchiladas.

‘From a Southern Oven’

(Wiley, $32.50)

Prolific writer Jean Anderson pays tribute to the South’s tradition of baking, both savory and sweet.

Mushroom tassies, chicken jambalaya casserole, country ham and cauliflower casserole, Savannah party shrimp and rice and Old Dominion tea cakes — they’re all included in this fine collection.

‘Modern Sauces’

(Chronicle, $35)

Food writer Martha Holmberg regards a sauce as more than an afterthought, something substantive that’s added to make a dish sing.

Illustrated with eye-popping photos, Holmberg’s book walks home chefs through standards such as hollandaise, bearnaise, marinara and classic vanilla bean creme anglaise to caramelized onion coulis and maple-rum sabayon.

‘Canal House Cooks Every Day’

(Andrews McMeel Universal, $45)

Don’t let the elegant, beautifully photographed volume fool you: the latest addition to the Canal House Cooking series by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton isn’t meant to serve as a coffee-table cookbook.

Its 384 pages offer delicious and easy-to-prepare dishes that celebrate the practice of simple cooking. Straightforward recipes are arranged by month — for example, among December’s offerings are Lasagne Bolognese, Pappardelle and Mushrooms and Marmalade Cake.

‘Muy Bueno’

(Hippocrene Books, $22.50)

The warmth of Mexico manifests itself in this appealing volume co-authored by Evangelina Soza and her daughters Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack and Veronica Gonzalez-Smith. Their book spans three generations and preserves south-of-the-border family recipes.

Traditional regional home-style dishes stand alongside innovative fusion recipes in this attractive volume peppered with heartwarming family stories. Along with the book’s 100 irresistible recipes are helpful guides on such techniques as roasting chiles and making fresh tortillas.

‘Salty Snacks’

(Ten Speed Press, $16.99)

Ready to take your love of salty snacks to the next level? That’s the question Cynthia Nims poses in this handy new paperback appropriately subtitled: “Make your own chips, crisps, crackers, pretzels, dips and other savory bites.”

Nims favors the homemade route as a way of avoiding excess salt and hidden preservatives lurking in prepackaged foods. Here, she shares recipes for Spicy Tortilla Crisps with Queso Fundido, Bacon-Chive Bread with Goat Cheese, Salami Chips with Grainy Mustard Dip and 72 others.

‘Gran Cocina Latina:
The Food of Latin America’

(W.W. Norton & Co., $45)

Culinary historian and restaurant owner Maricel E. Presilla packs nearly 30 years of research into this authoritative reference. Born in Cuba, Presilla has traveled extensively to more than 20 Latin American countries, studying their culture and eating habits.

The hefty, 901-page book should resonate with anyone who enjoys cooking, traveling or reading about history.

‘Turkey’

(Chronicle Books, $35)

Trained chef and globetrotting photographer Leanne Kitchen shares her discoveries of the rich bounty Turkey has to offer in terms of the country’s thriving food culture.

Her keen eye focuses on little known regional specialties, culinary techniques and eateries.

Breathtaking photos and understandable recipes showcase the country’s diversity. Kitchen includes meze (small plates) such as Warm Squash Hummus; breads: Cheese and Potato Filo Rolls, and seafood: Salt-Baked Fish with Beet Salad and Pistachio and Tahini Sauce.

Tom Witom is a local freelance writer.



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