Foodies are a fickle lot, even more so around the holidays. Must be all that eggnog. Here are five of the season's hottest reads that are sure to please the pickiest epicures on your list.
Get the Dirt
Don't let the subtitle - Flavour-Forward Food From The Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant - put you off Amanda Cohen and Ryan Dunlavey's superb Dirt Candy cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $29.99. Rating: NNNNN). We'd call it a witty autobiographical graphic novel with cutting-edge recipes that just so happen to feature only vegetables, dishes like broccolini fettuccine with tempura-poached eggs, and vegan foie gras fashioned from mushrooms.
The comic book format makes the instructions easy to replicate, and the framing story of the Ottawa-born Cohen's disastrous attempts to launch a resto in the Big Apple are a cautionary tale that should be mandatory reading for every wannabe Gordon Ramsay.
All in the family
Celebrated photographer Mary McCartney's simply titled Food (Random House, $39.95. Rating: NNNN) is testament to her mother, Linda McCartney's, groundbreaking philosophy: if it tastes good, is easy to make and looks fantastic, no one need know there isn't any meat involved.
Hence, family favourites like mushroom 'n' leek lasagna, Yorkshire pudding and shepherd's pie, all with gorgeous photos of the food alongside those of Beatle dad Paul, Linda and the kids back in the day.
No mention of Monkberry Moon Delight, though.
Burma takes you there
While Toronto-based Naomi Duguid's Burma (Random House, $39.93. Rating: NNN) isn't quite the glossy, over-the-top doorstops she penned with then-husband Jeffrey Alford, it very much continues in the tradition set by their best-selling and Oprah-approved Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet and Beyond The Great Wall.
Part culinary exploration and part travelogue, her latest's photography will still have you licking every page.
Most new cookbooks these days are pricey objets d'art designed for the coffee table, beautiful to look at but not very practical in the kitchen. You won't have that problem with Share, by Adrienne de Franceso with Marion Kane (Between the Lines, $24.95. Rating: NNN), since its glossy pages are sticky-fingerprint-proof.
Initiated by FoodShare, the not-too-slick package contains multiculti recipes like Jack Layton's bouillabaisse made with sustainable fish, Michele Landsberg's mother, Lee's, terrific latkes and ex-Calico chef Jared Davis's celery root mash with sautéed mushrooms and puréed peppers. And since proceeds feed back into the program, it's a gift that gives twice.