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Six cookbooks to buy for Christmas 2015

Recipe and food books we’ve loved this year, for all types of cooks and foodies. A good cookbook makes the perfect Christmas present for your foodie friend who has everything

A Year in Cheese by Alex and Leo Guarneri

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Many varieties of cheese are available all year round, so we tend not to treat it as seasonal. If cheese is a favourite ingredient, this book will give you plenty of ideas for recipes that fit the seasons, and a cheese board for each. Spring, with its new grass for goats and cows to eat, features fresh cheeses such as brillat-savarin (made into a cheesecake) as well as autumn-made hard cheeses which are finally ready to eat. Summer is bumper cheese season with spring-milk cheese such as fourme d’ambert (made into a dip for crudités) reaching the three-month mark, and ricotta at its best. Autumn is for gruyère and cheddar, for melting recipes, and winter for fondue made with emmental and comté. Cheese heaven. (£20, Quarto)


A. Wong, The Cookbook by Andrew Wong

If you’ve been lucky enough to eat at A. Wong, you’ll know the kind of refined Chinese dishes he serves: based on well made ingredients produced with care, not necessarily tricky, but perfectly flavoured. Some recipes are made easier for home cooks – the Chinese chive dumplings instructions come without the 13 perfectly spaced pleats the restaurant chefs are required to make – and others such as the beef hor fun and Michie’s sweet and sour ribs are simple enough to start with. If you want a serious challenge, head to the dim sum section or try pulling your own noodles. (£25, Octopus)


Tacopedia by Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena

There’s no stone left unturned in this in-depth book about tacos. Everything from nixtamalisation (the process by which the cap and hull of dried corn is removed and the corn itself is made more nutritious) to fillings, regional preferences, and where to eat the best of each type in Mexico, is covered, and there are also recipes, snippets of folklore and plenty of history. A cover-to-cover reading of this book would make you Mastermind-ready on the subject of tacos, and very hungry. (£19.95, Phaidon)


The Food Lab: better home cooking through science by J. Kenji López-alt

Managing culinary director of seriouseats.com, J. Kenji Lopez-alt is king of forensic nerd cooking. If you follow his website column you’ll be familiar with his endless experiments, covering everything from how to cook the best steak, make beer-based batter, and which knives you need, to how to use your freezer efficiently. If not, this book can teach you just about everything you need to know to be a good cook. Plus, you’ll find out all sorts of science-y bits like what on earth the leidenfrost effect is. It’s an American book, so kale, meatloaf and burgers are all covered, as are fries, ricotta pancakes and salads. A second volume is coming, as even though this weighs a ton, not all of his recipes and experiments are included. I can’t wait. (£26, W.W.Norton & Company)


Chinatown Kitchen by Lizzie Mabbott

If you like Asian food but have never tried cooking it, this book will give you the perfect start. Also known by her blog name, Hollow Legs, Lizzie’s take on Asian recipes are easy, great-tasting and interesting. From udon carbonara and kimchi toasted cheese sandwich to Malaysian curry mee and Chinese roast pork belly, there are plenty of new and classic recipes to choose from. She also imparts a wealth of information on everything from ingredients to equipment, so you won’t find yourself floundering around, wondering what things are. Yes you will have to find a Chinese shop for some of the ingredients but it will be worth it. (£20, Mitchell Beazley)


My Street Food Kitchen: fast and easy flavours from around the world by Jennifer Joyce

Packed with on-trend recipes and flavours from Mexico and South America via the dirty burgers and kale slaw of America, to India and Asia, there’s something for everyone here. Based on street food-style dishes, these are gorgeously photographed recipes that have been made easy for the home cook. Jennifer regularly writes recipes for O, so you’ll be familiar with her style but your friends may not. They’ll love this collection, especially if they like entertaining. (£18.99, Murdoch Books)


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