For the complex palate
Bitter: A Taste of the World’s
Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes
By Jennifer McLagan (Ten Speed
In a society more likely to reach for something salty or sweet, Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes will be appreciated by those who value complexity in cuisine. Chapters are broken out in sections offering “liquid bitter,” “surprisingly bitter,” “dark, forbidden, and very bitter” and more. Chef and writer Jennifer McLagen points out that popular foods and drinks like coffee, IPA beer, dark chocolate, high-quality olive oil and arugula all share bitter qualities. “Bitter is finally getting its due,” she writes while sharing an exploration of taste and flavor along with intriguing recipes such as White Asparagus with Blood Orange Sauce and Tobacco Panna Cotta.
For the artisan home cook
By Laurence and Gilles Laurendon, Catherine Quevremont and Cathy Ytak (Lark Crafts, $22.95)
As diners and home cooks become more concerned about what’s in their food, homesteading, or cultivating scratch-made techniques in food preparation, is on the rise, as are scratch-kitchen restaurants. From Scratch: An Introduction to French Breads, Cheeses, Preserves, Pickles, Charcuterie, Condiments, Yogurts, Sweets and More provides easy recipes with beautiful photography to make French-style, homemade food preparation simple. Processed foods will be a thing of the past as the book will inspire readers to make their own pasta, cereal bars, nut milks and even chips and sausages.
For the outdoorsman
The Wild Chef
By Jonathan Miles and the editors
of Field & Stream (Weldon Owen, $32.50)
For hunters, fishermen and home cooks, The Wild Chef (published in late 2013) is a compilation of Jonathan Miles’ popular “Wild Chef” columns in Field & Stream. Readers will learn how to butcher and clean their catch, forage wild sides and prepare impressive wild game and fish dinners to feed a crowd. Chapters are listed by the four seasons and recipes include everything from Cider-Braised Rabbit to Elk and Toasted Chile Stew. Guest chefs contribute recipes to the book, too, including Grilled Venison Backstrap with Deer Rub from Fort Worth chef Tim Love.
For the country music fan
Southern Living Country Music’s Greatest Eats
By Tanner Latham (Oxmoor House, $24.95)
Country music fans (they’re a loyal breed) will love Country Music’s Greatest Eats, an entertaining collection of favorite recipes from stars like Miranda Lambert, Alan Jackson, Wynonna Judd and the guys of Florida Georgia Line. The book is a collaboration between Southern Living and CMT and features short stories about memorable meals from more than 30 artists, along with dishes such as Hank Williams Jr.’s Cajun Rice Casserole and Casey James’ Barbecue Salmon. And with AT&T Stadium hosting the Academy of Country Music Awards in April, the book would make a great pairing with an IOU for tickets. (Go to www.acmcountry.com for information.)
For the whisky drinker
The World Atlas of Whisky, 2nd Edition
By Dave Broom (Octopus Books, $40)
Considered the most up-to-date, in-depth illustration on the subject of whisky, The World Atlas of Whisky, 2nd Edition by award-winning spirits communicator Dave Broom covers distilleries around the world, from Scandinavia and Scotland to Japan and even Texas. (Firestone & Robertson gets a shout-out on a U.S. craft distillery map.) The coffee table-worthy tome journeys through whisky history, the distilling process, vocabulary and tasting notes and offers 28 detailed maps. Package with a favorite bottle and mark the whisky drinker off your list.
For the vegetarian or heart-healthy cook
Plenty More: Vibrant
Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi
By Yotam Ottolenghi
(Ten Speed Press, $35)
Championing vegetables, grains and legumes in his luxurious, meatless cookbook, London restaurateur Yotom Ottolenghi follows up his New York Times bestselling book Plenty with Plenty More. There are more than 150 vegetable-centric dishes created using a wide range of culinary techniques that include grilling, baking, braising, tossing and frying. Standout, inventive dishes include Pea and Mint Croquettes, and Ricotta Fritters with Orange and Honey.
For the well-traveled diner or restaurant chef
A New Napa Cuisine
By Christopher Kostow
(Ten Speed Press, $50)
Authored by The Restaurant at Meadowood chef Christopher Kostow, a philosophy major with no formal culinary training, A New Napa Cuisine follows Kostow’s evolution from line cook to highly-acclaimed chef. Throughout the title’s matte-finished pages, Kostow shares 100 artfully constructed dishes along with stories of Napa Valley’s artisans, growers and wild ingredients that have inspired his food. The book is an eclectic collection of visually stunning dish presentations paired with philosophical thoughts from Kostow about creating them.