State Dinner’s Foodie Gift Guide for the Holidays

The holiday season has approached once again and if you are looking for that perfect gift to give to your favorite foodie you’ve come to the right place. My shelves are covered in cookbooks. I have well over 50 of them. I think cookbooks are the perfect gift for the food lover. They last a long time and provide learning and adventure in the kitchen.

I have put together a list of cookbooks for every type of chef. So head out to your local independent bookstore and pick up a gift for your favorite chef (and just maybe they will thank you with a delicious meal).

For the First Time Cook: The Joy of Cooking– My Mom has a tradition (passed down from her Mom) of giving me a cookbook every Valentine’s Day. The very first cookbook she gave me was The Joy of Cooking. This is the bible of all cookbooks. Whenever I am in doubt about something simple or basic I turn to TJOC. For new cooks it is perfect: it’s divided up in to clear cut sections, allows the cook to build on what they learn from previous recipes, and if you follow all the steps you are bound to have an end result that is delicious.

For the Food Politician: Food Matters by Mark Bittman– The food politics movement has taken off in recent years, starting with The Omnivores Dilemma. Mark Bittman’s book is perfect for those who care about how their food habits affect the world around them because not only does the book include Bittman’s argument on how to lead a more balanced, healthy life through food while helping the environment and economy, but it also includes great recipes.

For Someone Living Alone: The Pleasure of Cooking for One by Judith Jones. Judith Jones is a legend in cookbook publishing because she is the woman who discovered Julia Child. I discovered this cookbook while on a trip to New York and immediately read it cover-to-cover. Jones wrote the book after her husband passed away. Her philosophy behind cooking for one is very inspiring. She doesn’t believe that you should skimp on delicious meals, just because you are the only one dining at the table. As someone who lives alone but still likes to cook every night I have found this to be the perfect cookbook. You don’t have to worry about having tons of leftovers and cutting the recipes in half….every recipe already is adapted to feed one person.

For the Home Cook With Limited Time: Every Day Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart. This is probably the one cookbook I use the most in my house. I have cooked almost every single recipe and they have all turned out delicious. Some of my favorites include the cashew chicken, butternut squash soup, and skirt steak with spicy green salsa. Most of the recipes can be prepared in under an hour and use easy to find ingredients. The book is broken down in to seasons, which I really appreciate since I like to shop at my farmers market and eat what is fresh and local. And every recipe has a beautiful picture to accompany it. Trust me….Martha will never steer you wrong.

This photo courtesy of ThisIsNaive

For People Who Love Brunch: Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook by Dede Lahman and Neil Kleinberg. The Clinton St. Baking Company is one of the hottest spots in New York City to find comfort food. Over and over again they are named the restaurant with the best biscuits, pancakes, brunch, and breakfast. Lines stretch around the corner just to get a taste of their blueberry pancakes. The place also just happens to be owned by a longtime friend Dede Lahman and her chef-husband Neil. All the hype about the restaurant is justified and now you can sample a little taste of their magic in your own home. I first learned about this cookbook over a year ago when Dede asked my Mom and I to test out some of the recipes (I tested out the scone recipe…yum!). It was very exciting to get my hands on the finished product. These recipes are delicious and run the gambit from Huevos Racheros to vanilla buttermilk waffles to red flannel hash. And yes Neil’s recipes for biscuits and pancakes are included.

For Those Mourning the Lose of Gourmet Magazine: The Gourmet Cookbook and Gourmet Today both by Ruth Reichl. Foodies worldwide took a major hit in the past few years when Gourmet Magazine suddenly shut down and stopped publishing. If you are anything like me, you grew up looking at the delicious pictures in your Mom’s monthly copy of Gourmet and then tried to spend your adulthood recreating these masterpieces. Lucky for us Ruth Reichl and her friends at Gourmet have put together two spectacular encyclopedic cookbooks to tide us over until the publishing world comes to their senses and brings us back our beloved magazine. These cookbooks are made up of years worth of Gourmet recipes and are a treasure trove for pretty much any situation you can find yourself in.

For Those Coming From A Melting Pot Family….Or Just Want to Cook Like One: The New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson. When you looked around your Thanksgiving table this year did it look a little bit like a meeting of the UN? If so than this is the perfect gift for the cook in your family. In celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s new cookbook he draws inspiration from the melting pot that is the United States of America.  He has Fish Goulash that could delight your Hungarian Grandma, miso-rubbed rack of lamb for your Japanese cousin, and yellowtail ceviche for your South American wife. Each recipe includes a description and story behind his culinary and ethnic inspiration.

Photo courtesy of

3 responses to “State Dinner’s Foodie Gift Guide for the Holidays

  1. Great list! Love the cooking for 1 idea.

    You might want to add something cute…for kids or adults. Here are cupcake cookbooks!

  2. What a great post! I’m definitely heading out and buying myself Mark Bittman’s cookbook. Another great cookbook is Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi — he’s a British-Israeli chef who has really inventive, fresh recipes.

  3. Joy of Cooking is soooo going on my list

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