Cookbooks make great gifts. The beauty is not only in learning, but being the recipient of lots of delicious meals from those you give them too! Our top picks below were selected by our editor Dee Laffan from her experiences and the people she has met throughout the year.
Honestly, there are too many cookbooks to choose from this Christmas; you will be stuck with the problem of trying to buy just one! However, there is one for everyone, from guides to classic dishes to branching out to new cuisines, fun and quirky personalities turning their hands to cooking, reference guides, and lots in between.
Here is the F&W Christmas Gift Guide for the cook, chef or food bookworm in your life...
Neven Maguire’s Home Economics for Life
For those of you who don't know (not many I'm sure), Neven Maguire is a true gentleman and a great chef. He's also a teacher and we'd say there are lots of people and chefs around the country who have benefitted from his knowledge and skill over the years. In keeping in that tradition, and in a sort of homage to his time in Home Economics class, Neven's latest cookbook aims to educate and teach you the 50 recipes he feels everyone should know. He couldn't have published this book at a better time, with an ever-growing interest in food and people wanting to learn how to cook more from scratch at home.
Published by and available from Gill Books
Larder by Robin Gill
Robin Gill is an amazing Irish-born chef, whose restaurants The Dairy, Sorella and Counter Culture in London have shown his dedication to ingredients, from sourcing to flavour to waste. This isn't a cookbook for a beginner, but there is so much learning in it for anyone who is interested in getting stuck in as if you were rolling up your sleeves in the kitchen beside Robin himself.
Published by Bloomsbury and available on Amazon
This is a fantastic collection of some of Darina's first recipes that were aired in her RTÉ show in March 1989. It showcased the tried and tested Ballymaloe favourites and demonstrated just how easy it was to make simple and delicious food with beautiful fresh local produce. The accompanying book went on to make Irish publishing history, topping the bestseller list for many months and selling more copies than any previously published cookbook in Ireland. Now for the first time, 100 classic recipes from Simply Delicious 1 and 2 and Simply Delicious Vegetables have been collected together in this timeless cookbook. It is truly a great addition to your bookshelf and kitchen and best of all one that you can turn to for a failsafe recipe for any occasion.
Published by Kyle Books and available from Ballymaloe
John & Sally are two of Ireland's biggest fans and have spent their careers championing its hospitality industry – writing, talking, cooking, photographing, teaching, performing, connecting – from their favourite producers and chefs to their most-loved places to stay or their must-visit stop-offs for a bite on the road. They are 'guides' in the truest meaning of the word. This book was more than a year in the making and you can see why; not a stone has been left unturned, nor a bumpy road left untravelled, to find the best of the best across the island. A true collection of the heart from those who have the biggest hearts.
Published by HarperCollins UK and available on eason
Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi
Food writer Aoife McElwain interviewed Yotam Ottolenghi in September at an event called 'Off the Page' as part of the Dublin Literary Festival 2018. She tweeted after the event, "They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but that adage doesn’t really apply when your hero is Ottolenghi. What an absolute pleasure it was to interview him tonight – a dream come true." Attending the event, you can appreciate this comment. He truly is a food hero for many people and his latest book highlights his urge to reach as many people as possible with this food. SIMPLE has 130 brand-new dishes that contain all the inventive elements and flavour combinations that Ottolenghi is loved for, but with minimal hassle for maximum joy. The matrix of the book makes it easy to navigate through the recipes for your needs and the photography is stunning.
Published by Ebury Press and available on Amazon
The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber
This book is the next step for fermentation fans and who better to learn from than the masters of Noma, named the world's best restaurant four times. Every dish in the restaurant includes some form of fermentation, whether it's a bright hit of vinegar, deeply savoury miso, an electrifying drop of garum, or the sweet intensity of black garlic. This is definitely a chef's cookbook or for those who already have their heads around simple and typical fermentations, but a worthwhile gift for those really into it.
Published by Artisan Publishers and available on Amazon
Persepolis by Sally Butcher
I met Sally in July at Latitude Festival in the UK; I hosted her cooking demonstration as part of the Theatre of Food stage. I was wowed by her food, so packed with flavour using ingredients in a way I hadn't seen before. She is a powerhouse of a woman and her fiery red hair is only a small reflection of her passion and spirit. I've recommended one of her most recent cookbooks for our gift guide, but any in her collection are gems.
Since opening her vegetarian café within her shop Persepolis, Sally has seen an explosion of interest in her Middle Eastern-influenced vegetarian dishes. Inspired by the food Sally serves up daily to her hungry customers, this book ventures a little further from the Middle Eastern shores, deserts and mountain ranges to other continents and beyond. I also highly recommend Persia in Peckham, her first cookbook, or any of her books for that matter as they are all great.
Published by Pavilion, available from Eason
Food & Drink Infographics: A Visual Guide to Culinary Pleasures by Simone Klabin
This really brings out the geek in us! We love infographics and we love food and drink so using infographics to tell stories and explain the science of food and measurements has just sent our hearts racing!
This volume gathers the best infographics of all things eating, drinking, and cuisine, from conversion charts for measurements to cookie recipes, cocktails, and stress-free party planning. This is gastro-guidance at its most visually appealing.
Published by Taschen and available from The Gutter Bookshop
Eat what you watch: A cookbook for movie lovers by Andrew Rea
I am a big fan of films and food so it's awesome when the two mix. There are lots of unforgettable dishes from films that I've wanted to replicate and this book basically enables that. From the comforting frothy butterbeer from Harry Potter, the sumptuous apple strudel from Inglorious Basterds, the Katz Deli sandwich from When Harry Met Sally, or Remy the rat chef’s signature ratatouille in Ratatouille. In this cookbook, they recreate these iconic food scenes and many more. With recipes from more than 40 classic and cult films, Eat What You Watch is the perfect gift for both movie buffs and cooks who want to add some cinematic flair to their cooking repertoire.
Published by HarperCollins and available from Amazon
From Cook to Crook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogs Kitchen, Snoop Dog
We know what you're thinking... This couldn't be good. However, you'll be surprised and hopefully happy to know that Martha Stewart's BFF's cookbook is actually good! He has worked his culinary magic on VH1's Emmy-nominated Martha and also hosted Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party, and now has published his first cookbook. Delivering 50 recipes straight from his own collection, Snoop's cookbook features OG staples like Baked Mac & Cheese and Fried Bologna Sandwiches with Chips, and new takes on classic weeknight faves like Soft Flour Tacos and Easy Orange Chicken, even dishes like Lobster Thermidor and Filet Mignon make it in the book.
Published by Abram Books and available from Hen’s Teeth, Dublin
A Very Serious Cookbook by
This is definitely the present for the chef in your life because this is the story of two restaurants beloved by chefs and foodies worldwide – Lower East Side tasting-menu restaurant Contra, and its more casual sister, Wildair. In saying that, home cooks will also enjoy this book as the narratives explore how and why they developed their signature dishes – many of which are ideal for creative home cooks – and are full of their distinctive wit and personality. Throughout the book, it explores what inspires the chefs' passionately seasonal cooking style, boundary-pushing creativity, and love of natural wine.
Published by Phaidon and available from Hen’s Teeth, Dublin
F**k That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well by Action Bronson
Another stateside cookbook and this time the New York phenomenon that is Action Bronson. For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, he is the star of his own show from which this book has been titled. In the show, Action journeys around New York and further afield discovering the delicious underbelly food with his posse and much hilarity and fun [and weed] along the way.
The book includes 40-plus recipes inspired by his childhood, family, tours, and travels. A journey from bagels with cheese and Big Macs of upstate New York fat camp and ultimately to the world’s most coveted five-star temples of gastronomy. And: the tacos in LA. The best Dominican chimis. Jamaican jerk. Hand-rolled pasta from Mario. Secrets to good eating from Massimo. And more!
Published by Abrams Books and available from Hen’s Teeth, Dublin
Matty Matheson: A Cookbook
A New York Times Bestseller, Matty Matheson, star of Viceland’s It’s Suppertime and Dead Set On Life, is known as much for his amazing food as his love for life, positive mental attitude, and EPIC Instagram account.
This debut cookbook is about Matty’s memories of the foods that have defined who he is. With a drive to share his zest for life, he creates dishes that reinterpret the flavours of his youth in Canada, as well as the restaurant fare for which he has become so well-known. This is a very personal cookbook, full of essays and headnotes that share Matty’s life. His no-nonsense approach to food makes these recipes practical enough for all, while his creativity will entice seasoned cooks.
Published by Abrams Books and available from Hen’s Teeth, Dublin
Lateral Cooking by Niki Segnit
This cookbook is groundbreaking. It is from the author, Niki Segnit, who wrote the bestselling and also groundbreaking The Flavour Thesaurus, which if you like to cook and don't have a copy then that should be your first purchase or ask Santa for them both!
This latest cookbook reveals the principles underpinning all recipe creation and helps you to understand why recipes work so that you can be freer to adapt them and experiment. Lateral Cooking is organised into 77 'starting-point' recipes, reducing the phenomenal variety of world cuisine down to its bare essentials, and then building it back up again. Once you have the hang of each starting point, a wealth of flavour possibilities awaits, each related in Niki's signature combination of culinary science, history, chefs' wisdom and personal anecdote. You will realise that recipes that you had thought were outside of your experience are reassuringly similar to things you've made a dozen times before. It will give you the confidence to experiment with flavour and adapt with the seasons or the contents of your fridge. You will, in short, learn to cook 'by heart' – and that's where the fun really begins!
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing, available from The Gutter Bookshop
Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens To Be Vegan) by Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse
Shannon Martinez was one of the speakers at this year's Food on the Edge in Galway, the international chef symposium founded by JP McMahon. She captivated the audience with her casual Aussie wit and passion for her food, and her story of how she accidentally became a vegan chef which led to her opening Smith & Daughters with Mo Wyse. Her photos of her food were unlike any vegan food available in Ireland and threw her into the spotlight as a pioneer for the rest of the world to look towards.
The best thing about her food is that she's not making it for it be vegan per se, she just wants to make great food. Many people believe veganism is a trend, that all vegan food tastes the same, boring, bland way and, above all, that it is uncreative, not filling and lacks flavour. Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse ignore convention in favour of plant-based innovation in the kitchen. This cookbook has 80+ delicious recipes with a Spanish twist to recreate at home. Vegetarian, vegan or not, you will love this book!
Published by Hardie Grant Books and available from Amazon
The Science of Spice by Dr Stuart Farrimond
Again, this is another book that appeals to the food geek within! Taking the periodic table of spices as a starting point, explore the science behind the art of making incredible spice blends and how the flavour compounds within spices work together to create exciting layers of flavour and new sensations. Written by TV personality, food scientist and bestselling author, Dr Stuart Farrimond, this book is for you if you've ever wondered what to do with a jar of sumac, why some spices taste stronger than others, or how to make your own personal garam masala. It's as much a reference guide as a cookbook and the illustrations and charts are amazing.
Published by Dorling Kindersley Limited and available from eason
Time by Gill Meller
I also met Gill Meller this year at Theatre of Food in Latitude Festival where I hosted his cooking demonstration. River Cottage has always been a go-to for me and Gill is an inspirational chef and someone who truly champions the spirit and ethos of RC. Time is the follow-up to his first cookbook Gather, which is also a great book to have in your collection. But this time (see what I did there), Gill talks us through his approach to food and cooking time spent in the kitchen. As usual, it is ingredient-driven and highlights the necessity for seasonality on every page. I love when a cookbook not only delivers great recipes and knowledge but is well written and Gill has created a lovely tone and vibe of a personal journal throughout his book.
Published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd and available from The Gutter Bookshop
If you have any cookbook suggestions that you'd like to share or you have any comments on Dee's selection, please leave a comment below.