If there’s a gift that keeps on giving, it’s the gift of knowledge. And there’s little that we’d like to know more about than food. 2020 may not have been the year for you to go out to eat, but it’s certainly been the year for you to turn your kitchen into a restaurant. And luckily for us, chefs have been doing their fair share of sharing their tips, tricks, and best recipes with us by publishing a sizable collection of excellent cookbooks throughout this year. So if you’re looking to get your friends and family members to make you a delightful home cooked meal this holiday season, take a gander through our favorite cookbooks, and consider giving a gift that will pay plenty of dividends (at least, insofar as your stomach is concerned).
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster fame has released a new cookbook with co-author Osayi Endolyn, the author who touches upon the intersections of food and identity in her James Beard Award-winning writing. All this is to say that when these two team up, you’re certain to have a cookbook that is filled not only with interesting recipes, but is also beautifully written. The Rise is a culinary response to the racial reckoning that the United States continues to face, and offers both stories and recipes from Black chefs across the nation. If you’re looking to explore the diversity that is American cooking, and consider your own response to ongoing conversations around race, this is a great book to check out and to gift.
Shop now: The Rise, $33
Bibi, which can mean “grandmother” in Swahili, is the source of this collection of recipes across eight African countries. Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen have found a series of straightforward, delicious, and classic recipes from Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and Comoros. And to bring each recipe to life, the authors have included interviews (along with cooking tips) with the matriarch behind the food, recreating the same kitchen table conversations that you would expect from a home-cooked meal.
Shop now: In Bibi’s Kitchen, $32
If you’re looking to gift a cookbook that puts health front and center, then Skinnytaste Meal Prep by Gina Homolka is the way to go. There are a wide range of gluten-free recipes, healthy freezer meals, prep-and-go breakfasts and lunches, and so-called “planned-overs” for folks who like to cook once a week and have their meals ready on tap. Plus, there are useful tips and tricks for storing food, which makes this an ideal gift for folks cooking for smaller families (or for one).
Shop now: Skinnytaste Meal Prep, $19
For those looking to expand the range of their cooking, Meera Sodha’s East is a must-have. While it may seem difficult to cook exotic flavors like those from Sri Lanka or India or Japan, Sodha manages to make these recipes as approachable as they are delicious. While the recipes are adventurous, they’re also meant to be extremely efficient and perfect for weeknights. Plus, all these recipes have the added benefit of being either vegetarian or vegan, making them as good for you as they are good to eat.
Shop now: East, $23
Start your kids (or your friends’ and family members’ kids) on the right track early by gifting them a cookbook for the holidays. Fry Bread, a charming picture book, is not only a cookbook, but a history and cultural lesson as well, as it equips readers with an education about Native American cooking. As the name suggests, fry bread is the focus of this volume, and parents and children alike can have a good time mixing up dough and turning it into a delicious snack or carb base for the rest of your meal.
Shop now: Fry Bread, $13
Hummus lovers, vegetarians, and folks with good food taste in general will love Falastin, a cookbook that explores the dishes of Palestine. You can find everything from fish casserole to shawarma to solutions for all that leftover tahini that you always keep in your fridge. The book comes from the Ottolenghi restaurants’ executive chef, Sami Tamimi, and is 120 recipes long. So yes, you’ll be cooking from this book for quite some time.
Shop now: Falastin, $20
Multicultural recipes often seem to be the most delicious, and Lara Lee certainly proves that to be the case in her beautiful, bright cookbook. London-based Lee, who is Australian and Indonesian, is bringing crispy, sambal enlivened fish, beef rendang bathed in coconut milk, and no-churn peanut and banana ice cream in this expansive volume. Many of the recipes are inspired by her grandmother, so there’s a distinct sense of nostalgia in the dishes that you’ll be creating.
Shop now: Coconut and Sambal, $32
New Yorkers have fallen in love with Xi’an Famous Foods, the restaurant known for hand-pulled noodles and other spicy offerings from the Western regions of China. And now, you and your loved ones can recreate these distinct tastes in your own home with the Xi’an Famous Foods cookbook. Jason Wang, the son of Xi’an’s founder, provides us with a tour of this Chinese cuisine, emphasizing the importance of ingredients like black vinegar, Sichuan peppercorns, and Tanjin chile. Written in conjunction with Jessica Chou, this beautifully photographed book is also excellent food for the eyes.
Shop now: Xi’an Famous Foods, $25
No list of cookbooks would be complete without a dessert cookbook, and Dessert Person by pastry chef Claire Saffitz is easily one of the best of the year. Whether you’re brand new to baking or familiar with the most intricate ins and outs of bread proofing, Saffitz has something for you. And while dessert isn’t meant to be healthy, you can pretend for a bit with desserts like almond-butter banana bread, which certainly sounds like a heart-healthier version of other quick breads.
Shop now: Dessert Person, $18
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