If there’s someone in your life that’s looking to polish up their cooking skills, or even just boil water, a good cookbook can guide them along the way. So give them the gift of empowerment via a book. From cocktail recipes and carnivorous tomes to dessert canons and guides for beginners, here are the five best recently released cookbooks, from NYC-based authors, to purchase for the holidays.
For the Beginner: How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food, by Mark Bittman
A follow up to his original How to Cook Everything, Bittman’s latest volume focuses on — you guessed it — preparing food quickly. The New York Times food writer has taken 2,000 recipes and has broken them down into steps aimed at getting dinner on the table in 15, 30, or 45 minutes. Recipes range from chicken parmesan to spanakopita, from spaghetti and drop meatballs with tomato sauce to cheddar waffles with bacon maple syrup to apple crumble under the broiler. It’s great for beginners or anyone looking to speed up their dinner game.
For the Carnivore: The New Charcuterie Cookbook: Exceptional Cured Meats to Make and Serve at Home, by Jamie Bissonnette
A northeastern champion of nose-to-tail cuisine, Bissonnette is widely hailed for his charcuterie skills — he’s also picked-up the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Northeast.”
In his first cookbook, the chef/owner of Toro NYC breaks down the mighty pig (and other animals) into all its parts and teaches readers to make something delicious — there’s even a recipe for headcheese. The book is perfect for anyone obsessed with meat (or strange animal bits).
For the Sweets-Lover: Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking, by Johnny Iuzzini and Wes Martin
Several great pastry publications were released this year, but for those looking to really understand the ins-and-outs of sweet treats, this one sits at the top of the list. It includes more than 250 photographs highlighting step-by-step instructions on how to make the James Beard award winning chef’s recipes from bitter orange ice cream and blackberry souffle to salted caramels and olive oil sponge cake. The volume explains desserts to novices while expanding the repertoire of recipes for more advanced practitioners of pastry.
For the Cocktail Geek: Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, with More than 500 Recipes, by David Kaplan, Alex Day, and Nick Fauchald
For anyone interested in mixology, this treatise is a step inside the doors of one of the world’s most highly acclaimed cocktail bars. Designed to feel like the actual place, Death & Co. is beautifully laid-out with stunning photographs and personal stories from partners David Kaplan and Alex Day — it also highlights regulars and their favorite drinks. With notes on cocktail theory, spirits, detailed instructions, and more than 500 recipes, including the innovative Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, it’s sure to enhance any home bar program. Plus, it just looks pretty.
For the Locavore: America — Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers, by Mario Batali and Jim Webster
As Italian fare’s unofficial ambassador, Batali is obviously into letting ingredients do the talking — that’s what the boot-shaped nation is all about. In his latest edition, however, he’s bringing it stateside by hailing the good old U.S.A. and its domestic bounty. The celebrity chef calls upon top toques across the country to find out more about their favorite farmers; Batali, then, tells their story. With over 100 recipes made from ingredients sourced around the county, this book aims to get readers out to the farmers market and back into the kitchen.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.