This is my Top 10 List of cookbooks published in 2012 that I think would make great gifts for the holidays. I chose them from dozens and dozens I receive and read because I fell in love with them. I think you will too!

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen

Pull up a chair. This is a great read. More than a cookbook, it is a story about a woman’s life in Tuscany that is filled with great food, friends, and her life under the Tuscan sun. Made famous from her original novel, Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy, which was later made into a movie Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes updates us in this cookbook more about her life there and the food she and her husband prepare every day.

She begins the first chapter, “If you came to visit me in Tuscany….”

You don’t need to travel that far. Pull up a chair. And feel as if you are right there with her.


The Art of Cooking Morels impacted me so strongly that I have placed it high up on a shelf of its own, as a treasured text to be pulled down often and paged through for the sheer enjoyment of the exquisite art and the inspired recipes. This is not a normal cookbook. It is an experience. A piece of art. Bravo to The University of Michigan Press for pushing it out into the cookbook world for those of us who so yearn to be drawn back to a connection with the miracle and beauty of food and place.

If there were a museum of cookbooks, you would find this one under glass.


Bouchon Bakery

Another Thomas Keller masterpiece of a cookbook, the Bouchon Bakery is a brilliant guide to baking that carries you into the realm of utter deliciousness. Consider Blueberry Muffins with Almond Streusel, making your own croissants at home, perfect macarons, buttery brioche, pain au chocolat, baguettes….well, who knew playing with eggs and flour could be so much fun??!!


Jerusalem: A Cookbook

As much a travelogue as a superb cookbook, London chefs Yotam Ottlenghi and Sami Tamimi bring to light a cuisine and style of cooking that will have you drooling over each luscious photograph and description.

For armchair cooks as well as experienced ones, this stunning cookbook will totally please.


Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons

This is an organized book, which makes it easy to learn from. Recipes for salads are divided into salads made from vegetables, salads with meat, salads with chicken, and salads with fish. Before you get to the recipes, there are complete instructions on how to clean greens, how to forage for salad, and how to grow greens for salads. And there is a lot to learn. I had never heard of mizuna, tatsoi, puntarelle, or miner’s lettuce. And many ingredients in the recipes are ones that I have never come accross, so it was fascinating to read through this cookbook.

She really won me over when she didn’t leave us hanging at the end of the cookbook full of salads. She gave us a desset to finish with, a luscious chocolate cream pie. This was her reasoning:

“I wanted to include one fantastic sweet in this book because, when you eat salad for lunch or dinner, shouldn’t you be rewarded with dessert?”



Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard

British chef Nigel Slater’s beautifully written new cookbook centers completely around fruit.

Here’s how it begins:

And then there was fruit. I always knew that if ever I found a space in which to grow a few knobbly vegetables of my own, some of it would be set aside for fruit: wild strawberries with flowers like tiny brilliant stars; amber and bronze apples with russet skins; dusky blueberries in old terra-cotta pots: maybe a black currant bush or two for jam. 

With recipes like: Baked Rhubarb with Blueberries, Apricot and Pistachio Crumble, Crisp Pork Belly with Sweet Peach Salsa, and Blackberry Focaccia, he takes fruit loving up a few notches. Exquisite photography and design make this a truly gift-worthy book.



Some cookbooks you cook from, others you dream of cooking from.

This is a dreamer’s kind of book. Written by Magnus Nilsson, the young Swedish chef whose restaurant has been referred to as the “most daring restaurant in the world”, it is filled with 100 of his recipes and in depth information about his approach to cooking—which includes cooking over coals. Even his words are evocative: broth from the forest floor, vinegar matured in the burned-out trunk of a spruce tree… can one not be inspired?

You may not be able to find the ingredients he forages for, but not to worry. Sit back and enjoy simply reading one of the most inspirational new cookbooks out there.


Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family’s Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking, from the Creator of Cannelle et Vanille

I have been reading Aran’s blog, Cannelle et Vanille, for years, reveling in her exquisite photography and light touch with food. Finally, her cookbook!

For anyone with small children and a desire to raise a family gluten-free, following Aran’s lead will make it easy. How could you not love: Fennel & Brown Butter Risotto with Parsley Pesto, Red Plum & Rosemary Tarte Tatin, or Apple, Yogurt & Olive Oil Upside Down Cake? Everything is fun, multi-layered, and enticingly presented. Bravo, Aran!



Ok, I have to admit it. I am a meringue addict, and this book makes me tingle all over.

Blood Orange Curd Meringue Tart with Dark Chocolate, vacherins, dacquoises, a Meyer Lemon Hazelnut Torte with Blackberry Sauce, little clouds here and there—I am making my way through each and every recipe. With utter delight.


The Preservation Kitchen

The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux

Paul Virant, Kate Leahy

This is probably the only canning and preserving cookbook you will ever need. Everything is completely and thoroughly explained in a straightforward manner. But it gets better. The photographs inspire you to want to try the recipes, if the recipe titles don’t. Think Beer Jam, Maple Black Walnut Butter, Pickled Candy Onions, or Eggplant Preserves.

This one should be on everyone’s shelf.

Happy holidays, everyone!!! And happy cooking!









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5 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Jann Mumford November 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm -

    I think you hit it correctly~all great choices!

  2. Hillary Davis November 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm -

    Thank you Jann! I hope everyone supports these authors… takes heart and soul to put out a great cookbook.

  3. phen375 February 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm -


    Annual List of Best Cookbooks of 2012 For Holiday Giving – Marche Dimanche

  4. phen375 February 8, 2013 at 12:36 am -


    Annual List of Best Cookbooks of 2012 For Holiday Giving – Marche Dimanche

  5. phen375 February 9, 2013 at 7:12 am -


    Annual List of Best Cookbooks of 2012 For Holiday Giving – Marche Dimanche

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