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The Well-Cooked Gift: A Holiday Gift Guide for the Cookbook Lover

Cookbooks make a great gift around the holidays. Clockwise from top left: Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix, Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cooking, Olympia Provisions: Cured Meats and Tales from an American Charcuterie, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Save My Life, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel, and Good Things To Drink.

It’s easy to get lost among the Amazon “stacks” or the cookbook section of your neighborhood bookstore, so I’ve narrowed a few favorites from 2015 to help you find that perfect gift for the foodie in your life.

For the New Cook
Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix
Mark Bittman, Pam Krauss Books, $35

Do you always seem to be enjoying that same chicken dish at Aunt Marie’s house? Here’s Bittman to the rescue with over 700 recipes, diagrams and pictures to help show you how to make the most of what’s in that fridge.

Who to buy this for? The college student in your life who is eager to make the most of their budget. Anyone with a need to mix up the usual fare.

For the Classic Cook
Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cooking
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, Knopf, $37.50

This isn’t exactly the Italian equivalent of Julia Child’s French cookbook of similar name, but it’s certainly a nod. Bastianich has compiled a tome from the bounty of her life as a chef. As the title reads, “Everything you need to know to be a great Italian cook,” and this I believe.

Who to buy this for? Stick this on your own cookshelf of classics and give it to any long-time cook in your life. Anyone who enjoys Italian food or Bastianich’s cooking show.

For the Meat Lover
Olympia Provisions: Cured Meats and Tales from an American Charcuterie
Elias Cairo and Meredith Erickson, Ten Speed Press, $40

This beautiful cookbook hits on all current trends: Portland, meat curing, travel, wanderlust, authenticity, tattoos, attractive photography involving hats and the woodlands. I am guilty of loving this one. The recipes are both challenging and rewarding and the book makes a perfect gift paired with an Olympia Provisions cured meat and a Portland craft beer. (Get both food items at Whole Foods. Even better, give this with a gift certificate to Whole Foods.)

Who to buy this for? The meat-loving hipster in your family who tends to bring their own home-brew to the Holiday table.

For the Drink Lover
Good Things to Drink with Mr. Lyan & Friends
Ryan Chetiyawardana, Frances Lincoln, $29.99

Mr. Lyan, aka the author Chetiyawardana, works in the London bars White Lyan and Dandelyan. After a quick flip through this book of cocktails, Mr. Lyan is also clearly the one we all need to be sharing a drink with. Friendly, approachable and with just the right amount of inventiveness, Good Things to Drink is a happy addition to any drinkshelf.

Who to buy this for? If you’re hosting this holiday season, get this one for yourself. For those loved ones in your life who enjoy shaking up a new cocktail at any sort of get-to-gether.

For the Plant-Based Diner
Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel
Heidi Swanson, Ten Speed Press, $29.99

This is an attractive and engaging book sectioned into the places both near and far where chef and blogger Heidi Swanson has made her home, cooked and built her pantry around the local cuisine. A joy to cook from, Near & Far also reads like a travel journal. One with delicious recipes and lovely photography.

Who to buy this for? Any cook who enjoys eating vegetarian some or all of the time.

For the Baker
The Violet Bakery Cookbook
Claire Ptak, Ten Speed Press, $29.99

The cover of The Violet Bakery screams British teatime and scones with clotted cream. Claire Ptak is California born, but now runs one of the most loved London bakeries. This is a book I dove into immediately and did not return from until I’d tabbed over a dozen recipes and baked at least two dozen cookies. As far as bakery cookbooks go, this one is a winner.

Who to buy this for? Those home cooks with a sweet tooth. Home bakers in your family who always let you steal a cookie or taste the batter. Give with a box of favorite tea or coffee.

For the Food Lit Lover
My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life
Ruth Reichl, Ten Speed Press, $29.99

Well-known author and editor Ruth Reichl cooks her way through the year following the sudden closure of her beloved Gourmet magazine in 2009. Part memoir, part cookbook, Reichl opens up like never before. “It is personal.” says Reichl, “But no point in writing (a) memoir if you don’t tell the truth!”

Who to buy this for? Fans of Reichl’s other work. Fans of M.F.K. Fisher, Elizabeth David and other classic food authors.

Happy cookbook giving, and Happy Holidays! :)

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