I am sorry in advance for this post– I really wanted to make it more detailed, prettier, more informative.  But, but, but… it is December 9th and I have a busy weekend ahead of baking and candy-making and MORE baking and I really wanted to get this list out!  Here are some of my favorite cookbooks to give and receive as gifts.  Some are over-sized, coffee table book-style beauties; others are my respective go-to source for desserts or specific cuisines; and some are what I think of as general cookbooks for a variety of uses.  If you are looking for a gift this holiday, take a look at some of these!

1.  Baked and Baked Explorations, Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito.  I put these first because most of you have already seen my rave reviews.  I still stand by every gushy word I ever wrote about these books.

2. The Joy of Cooking, Irma Rombauer.  Every cook should have a copy!  This would be especially appropriate for a younger chef or someone starting to build a kitchen library.

3. Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, Martha Hall Foose.  I have a place in my heart for Southern cooking, and the recipes in here do not disappoint.  In addition, you get some nice stories to read.

4. The Food You Crave, Ellie Krieger.  For those of us looking to “healthy things up”, Krieger offers delicious, mostly simple ways to cook healthfully.  I love her recipes for Savory Chinese Chicken Salad and Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut sauce.  Great for all ranges of cooking experience.

5. The Flavor Bible, Karen Page.  Cooks interested in the science of what happens in the kitchen will be intrigued by this one: it’s an encyclopedia of which flavors go together.  It’s pretty to look at, too.

6. Soup, DK Publishing.  Great recipes and vibrant pictures in an easy-to-follow format.  DK is not just for kids!

7. Arabesque, Claudia Roden.  I should also recommend her newer offering, The Food of Spain: both are survey-style explorations of food and culture.  Arabesque covers Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey; I love this book so very much.

8. Artichoke to Za’atar: Modern Middle Eastern Food, Greg Malouf.  Slightly fancier than Arabesque, with recipes that are a bit more complicated.  Beautifully formatted and perfect for gift-giving.

9. Falling Cloudberries: a World of Family Recipes, Tessa Kiros.  This is just a cool, cool book: a trip through the cuisines of her family’s heritage including Finland, Greece, Cyprus, South Africa and Italy.  The pictures are stunning, the text is interesting and the recipes are good.  I especially like Sipi’s Strawberry Cake.

10. The Instant Cook, Donna Hay.  Hay’s cookbooks are all nice to look at; this is the one with my favorite recipes to actually make.  A good range of basic to complex dishes.

11. Made in Spain, Jose Andres.  After discovering Zaytinya in D.C., I checked all of his cookbooks out from the library and read them cover to cover.  This is clearly the best one (according to me)– don’t miss the lentil salad recipe.  Yes, that lentil salad.

12. 1000 Vegetarian Recipes, Carol Gelles.  No, I am not a vegetarian, but this is such a handy reference tool to have for basic soups, salads, side dishes and more. I use this cookbook at least once a month for some recipe or another; our favorite is sweet potato meadow muffins.

Next year, I promise one-page reports on each book as well as glossy color photographs to accompany, but this year you will have to be happy with my summaries, knowing that I stand behind each and every choice.  Choosing gifts for your friends and families should be fun, not stressful, and I hope I have helped just a little.  Happy gifting!