Cookbooks to share this Christmas: give the gift of culinary joy

Choosing a gift that is both meaningful and practical can be a tricky task. But, for those who love to spend time in the kitchen testing new dishes, a cookbook can be a lasting, mindful gift that will be cherished for years to come (and shared among friends and family members). This gift-giving guide to cookbooks comes from Katrina Meynink (a cookbook author, Khoollect recipe contributor and passionate foodie). Here she shares a collection that’s bound to whet your appetite:

My guide to some of the spines worthy of your under-the-Christmas-tree real estate. It’s a busy time of year for cookbooks and this list is by no means exhaustive, but it may help you navigate the cookbook aisle (both physical and digital) in your quest for present-giving excellence.

China: The Cookbook
By Kei Lum Chan, Phaidon Press

Whenever Phaidon put out a region-specific title, you pay attention. And true to game, this is nothing short of encyclopedic in its coverage of one of the world’s most loved and oldest cuisines and its rich culinary history. There are more than 650 authentic traditional Chinese recipes from 30 distinct regions compiled by two of China’s best food writers. Designed for all types of cooks this 700-page gilt-edged beauty will surely lift your gift-giving game.

Must cook: Chicken salad with wasabi

Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking
Phaidon Press

This epic guide to Italy’s many regional dishes, is a true capture of the nature and breadth of authentic Italian cookery with a modern focus. It walks a careful divide between contemporary Italian food and those dishes steeped in tradition and culture. Created in collaboration with Eataly – one of the world’s greatest Italian food stores, the 40-plus-page visual glossary is a superb addition – your recipe repertoire and Italian-motivated larder will thank you. And recipes like the saffron tagliolini and the chocolate yoghurt mousse are the kind that seduce you, hook you and keep you coming back to this 500-plus-page tome for more.

Must cook: Saffron taglioni pasta with zuchinni and prosciutto

Istanbul Cult Recipes
Pomme Larmoyer

Part travel guide and part recipe book, this one is for the wanderlust seekers and those who share this great city’s love affair with food. It traverses dishes from street food to home cooking, meze and a solid smattering of desserts for those with a sweet tooth. It offers superb advice and detailed recipe techniques for those with a lust for trying their hand at home made helva, pides, breads and anyone with a fetish for condiments.

Must cook: Turkish pizza

Grown and Gathered – Traditional Living Made Modern
By Matt and Lentil, Plum Books

It’s beautiful. It’s deeply labour intensive. And its over-riding paddock-to-plate philosophy is nothing short of spectacular. This is a cookbook for those yearning for their own plot to grow and cook from, and those that feel they may have seen it all when it comes to cookbooks. It’s a breath of fresh air, abundant in knowledge sharing that makes you want to be a better community member, environmentalist and cook all at once.

Must cook: Pear and eggplant kasundi

The Natural Cook
Matt Stone, Murdoch Books

A simple premise: cooking for maximum taste with zero waste. It’s all about adopting new habits, opening your eyes to local foods and making the best of them, reducing waste by using every last bit of each ingredient, and enjoying well-raised meat and fish. The recipes will motivate your waste-reduction goals and if you love to ferment, brine and pickle, this is the book for you. It motivates rather than directs and helps cut through the hype to the essence of cooking – knowing exactly what you are eating.

Must cook: Greenhouse breakfast muffins

Community: Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen
Arthur Street Kitchen, Plum Books

Hetty MicKinnon, AKA salad maestro, and all round feel-good foodie made a name for herself biking salads and meals around her Sydney neighbourhood. Her net has since been cast far wider with a move to Brooklyn where she invites interesting creatives to contribute recipes along with many of her own in this follow-up cookbook. The salads are good, so good in fact, with tweaks on classics like the Brussel sprout casesar with croutons, borlotti beans and sunflower seeds. If that’s not enough to convince you, every recipe offers up substitutions if you can’t get your hands on something or its not in season, making its usability increase tenfold.

Must cook: Shredded collard greens, baked sweet potato and pinto beans with paprika-buttermilk dressing.

Salads and Vegetables
Karen Martini, Plum Books

Chef, television celebrity and multiple cookbook author Karen Martini has honed the not-so-casual perfectionism of the new wave of healthful home cooking gleaned from a life in professional kitchens. Her latest installment is continued testament to what I can only describe as epic skill. Her recipes are faultless, you come back to them again and again, and it’s the ‘sit down with a cup of tea flick through then rush to the kitchen to cook’ kind of motivation that makes you realise this is a book worth keeping and gifting. I’m going to stick out a cooking limb and say that Karen is probably one of the greatest, and by that I largely mean most dependable, Australian cookery writers at present. Buy Salads and you will see why.

Must Cook: Whole-roasted cauliflower with hot honey and feta dressing

Neil Perry’s Good Cooking
Neil Perry, Murdoch Books

There is nothing this man does not succeed in doing, and this cookbook is further testament to his abilities as a chef and restaurateur. The recipes are home cooking with a restaurant sentimentality. There are twists on everyday classics and the ingredients are easy enough to both source and use. This is cupboard, wallet and kitchen friendly. A must for the shelf.

Must Cook: Thai-style fish cakes with cucumber relish

Lola Berry’s Summer Food
Lola Berry, Plum Books

Small but mighty, Lola Berry’s Summer Food is the cookbook equivalent of a ‘best of’ album, riding the crest of the clean-eating wave. It’s fun, bright, stocking-filler-sized and full of 60 gorgeous, feel-good and detox-inspired recipes. But don’t despair, turns out even when detoxing you can have a chocolate brownie smoothie bowl for breakfast; and Lola’s green papaya salad will undoubtedly be on high rotation when the warm weather is in play.

Must cook: Brownie breakfast bowl

What cookbooks would you love to give (or get!) for Christmas this year?

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Pop over to Katrina’s blog, or discover her own recipe for a hearty salad on Khoollect.