2021 Holiday Books for Cooks

TIMENovember 28, 2021

Of all the books that pass by my desk each year, I try to set aside those that I think my readers will love for themselves and all cooks and food lovers. These are my picks this year. You can find all of these titles on Amazon.

“Lush Life: Food and Drinks From the Garden”

By Valerie Rice, Prospect Park Books

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“Lush Life: Food and Drinks From the Garden” by Valerie Rice (Prospect Park Books, $35).

This is the book to gift your friend who loves to cook, garden, and entertain. The photos are exquisite and inspiring. Author Valerie Rice, who lives in California, celebrates all that is bright and fresh that is the definition of California cuisine. She features creative dishes, gardening suggestions, and tempting cocktail recipes. This book is the sleeper of the season.

“Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide”

By Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras, Workman Publishing Company

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“Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide” by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras (Workman Publishing Company, $42.50).

This could be the catch-all gift for any food lover and cook this season. Filled with global stories and facts on food and places, this book is a wonder of culinary truths and trivia. Did you ever wonder where Bovril, a beefy liquid, came from? How about all those Indian curry restaurants in Britain? Did you know that there is something called Courtship Foods from Austria, North Africa, and Poland? And there are lots of American fun food facts. This could be the book to get for those Trivial Pursuit or “Jeopardy!” fans. It is a kaleidoscope of culinary wonders.

“Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes From a Modern Mensch”

By Jake Cohen, Mariner Books

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“Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes From a Modern Mensch” by Jake Cohen (Mariner Books, $30)

For those lovers of Jewish cooking, “Jew-ish” will have them racing to the kitchen to try their hand at Zaatar Roasted Eggplant With Tahini, Pickle Juice Braised Cabbage, or Crispy Chicken Thighs With Tzimmes. Jake Cohen is a master of sharing his stories and his love for this classic cuisine. His strength is in delivering clear and concise recipe instruction as well as changing it up for today.

“Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty, and Simple”

By Dorie Greenspan, Mariner Books

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“Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty, and Simple” by Dorie Greenspan (Mariner Books, $35).

In her 14th cookbook, Dorie Greenspan surprises the reader with plenty of innovative touches to her recipes. She’ll have the baker enthused to try chocolate chip cookies with poppy seeds, savory babkas, and choux pastry made into breadsticks. She also shares inspired recipes from her travels. This is the book to give to experienced bakers looking for new twists on the familiar. In addition to a breakfast section, there are chapters on cookies and cakes, cream puffs and meringues, pies, tarts, cobblers and crisps, and salty baked goods.

“Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Shelf Love”

By Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi, Clarkson Potter

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“Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Shelf Love” by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi (Clarkson Potter, $32).

Best-selling author Yotam Ottolenghi surprises his fans with this new series called Ottolenghi Test Kitchen. This tagline says it all: “Recipes to unlock the secrets of your pantry, fridge, and freezer.” The author explains this book came out of the pandemic. He and his test kitchen colleagues have given the reader stories and personalities in the headnotes. His goal is for the reader to step out of their comfort zone and improvise. I love the fact that there is a section at the end of each recipe called “Make It Your Own,” with tips and suggestions and room to write notes after the reader has cooked it. A gift for the curious cook.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Parties," and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at Copyright 2021 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.