"A Passion for Baking" by Marcy Goldman. Oxmoor House. 2007. $29.95. Ideal for a budding pastry chef or home baker, this 200-recipe volume has everything: technique, basics and encouragement. Scones, cookies, breads and a bake shop's repertoire are featured in straightforward, not-too-hard recipes that are well-depicted and nicely explained.
"I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas" by Marcel Desaulniers and Ron Manville. Wiley Press. 2007. $29.95. Although Death by Chocolate (at the Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg) is just a short drive away, those who must have their Chocolate Mint Bourbon Crème Brûlée or Pumpkin Pecan Caramel Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Cake immediately can now have all of the chocolate man's darkest secrets.
"Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts" by Claire Clark. Whitecap Books Ltd. 2007. $40. One of the most strikingly beautiful cookbooks in print, this 238-page color volume satisfies the dessert browser who wants to see photographs and the pastry chef who loves a challenge. Its intricate recipes aren't for the novice, quantities are listed in metrics, and the author urges readers to invest in food scales before trying these at home.
"Sweety Pies: An Uncommon Collection of Womanish Observations, With Pie" by Patty Pinner. Taunton Press. 2007. $23. If you loved the movie "Waitress," you'll treasure this personal conversation about life and kitchen wisdom. A fun, leisurely read with unusual pie recipes worth trying, this is a great gift for that special girlfriend.
"A Love Affair With Southern Cooking" by Jean Anderson. William Morrow. 2007. $32.50. Another narrative-style cookbook by an award-winning author, this volume is a must for Southern-food lovers who want to keep old traditions alive. Better than a food textbook, and more fun, it covers all the bases, from pickled oysters to mayhaw jelly.
"The Texas Cowboy Kitchen: Recipes From the Chisholm Club" by Grady Spears with June Naylor. Andrew McMeel Publishing. 2007. $19.95. Gorgeous and not at all girly, this big paperback cookbook puts the twang in 100 recipes that are comfort-food classics and right at home, even in the burbs. And most of the dishes have just six or seven ingredients, so it's a great starter for a collection.
"1080 Recipes" by Simone Ortega and Inés Ortega. Phaidon. 2007. $29.95. Italy is so over. Cook instead from Spain's version of The Joy of Cooking in a new English translation bursting with recipes for things like leek mousse, and pork chops with prunes and potatoes.
"Cook With Jamie" by Jamie Oliver. Hyperion Books. 2007. $37.50. Just when you think Jamie Oliver's going to leave you alone, he writes another book, and I'm glad he has. It's his biggest yet, and chock-full of great photos and easy, garlicky showstoppers.
"Cooking" by James Peters. Ten Speed Press. 2007. $40. It'll look as good on the coffee table as it does on the counter, plus this gorgeous book has lots of step-by-step instructions on how to cook everything from basic grilled steak to slow-roasted duck thighs with red cabbage and apples.
"Pork & Sons" by Stéphane Reynaud. Phaidon. 2007. $39.95. It's the loveliest, most adorable cookbook that starts out with animal slaughter. It's all-pork, all the time in this truly imaginative love letter to the pig, with recipes, by an engaging French chef.
"How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman. Wiley. 2007. $35. Insanely comprehensive, Bittman, The New York Times' Minimalist Chef, gives those who might call PETA about "Pork & Sons" (see above) a thousand new reasons to go back into the kitchen.
"The Seventh Daughter" by Cecilia Chiang. Ten Speed Press. 2007. $35. A compelling memoir wrapped in cookbook disguise, the owner of the legendary restaurant the Mandarin in San Francisco weaves traditional Chinese recipes throughout an engrossing tale of loss and survival.
"Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking" by Andreas Viestad. Artisan Press. 2007. $24.95. Norway's top food columnist takes readers on a personal tour of his homeland with easy, unusual recipes, from seafood to berries.