So, it's December 21st. Where are you at with your holiday shopping? If you are anything like me, you might find yourself scratching your head for those last few gifts and if you are like me, you will also have a bunch of foodie friends to buy for. So a cookbook is the perfect gift, right? But WHICH book?  There are so many new cookbooks out every month that it's hard to keep up so for your last minute holiday cookbook gift guide, we turned to the experts - Jennifer Grange, Kevin Jeung and Alison Fryer, our friends from The Cookbook Store in Toronto.  Here are their last minute (though quite frankly I would be happy to find any of these on my doorstep any day of the year!) picks for some of the best cookbooks to come out of 2011. Prices are in Canadian dollars and are RRP.

Bought, Borrowed & Stolen by Allegra McEvedy

Chef McEvedy documents her worldly travels with tales of exotic locales and rare knives native to each region. Authentic recipes allow the reader to follow her travels through the tastes of Spain, Malaysia, Japan, France and more. The knife collector is sure to appreciate the short anecdotes accompanying each new addition to her collection of cutting and slicing tools. $27.99.

The Modern Pantry by Anna Hansen

Everyone who fell in love with Yotam Ottolenghi's books, Ottolenghi and Plenty should try The Modern Pantry. This collection offers equally daring flavor combinations though with a more southern hemisphere sensibility. Also like Ottolenghi, the Clerkenwell-based restaurant offers both takeout and eat-in possibilities. The author was Canadian-born but raised in New Zealand before landing in Britain where she worked with Fergus Henderson and Peter Gordon. Among the recipes: Beetroot, Lentil and Mint Salad with Pomegranate Molasses and Orange Dressing; Garlicky Snails with chorizo mash; and a Sesame Panna Cotta with Salted Pistachio Praline.  $49.95.

Everyday Flexitarian by Nettie Cronish & Pat Crocker

Tailored towards those caught in a pickle when trying to accommodate a vegetarian diner amongst a table of carnivores or vice-versa, Everyday Flexitarian provides numerous delicious recipes that are easily converted to accommodate those on either side of the imaginary dietary line. Take the unnecessary stress out of cooking for vegetarians with this book that provides easy tips toward ensuring a happy dinner table when the plates are set. $29.95.

Fresh by Ruth Tal & Jennifer Houston

Nutritious and delicious vegan/vegetarian fare has never been made more possible than in the hands of Ruth Tal. Her recipes behind the award-winning Fresh restaurants are designed to keep the body healthy and satisfied at the same time. $29.99.

Martha's Entertaining by Martha Stewart

She is loved. She is reviled. To some, she is the most creative of cooks.  To others, she is merely the borrower of other people's creativity. Martha Stewart is one of the most polarizing figures ever in the culinary world. When her original book, Entertaining, was published in 1982 it changed the face of home entertaining forever. Most people who are producing a same topic book on the 30th anniversary of their first book would be satisfied to just re-issue said book with a few updates.  Yet Martha, ever the workaholic, has made Martha's Entertaining a showcase to the way her style taste evolved over three decades. $75.00

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Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla

What can you say about a book that seems to be a marriage made in heaven. The popularity of the slow cooker has not diminished and Indian cuisine is not a fad but a staple of cooks everywhere. Slow cooker + Indian cooking = Anupy Singla, a popular on-air figure in Chicago, she has an engaging personality and manages to not only talk the talk but also walk the walk! $24.50

Momofuku Milk Bar Christina Tosi

So what is it about Momofuku that enchants thousands of eaters around the world? You’ll find an understanding of the philosophy within the pages of this book. It’s not in the text, the recipes, or the photographs; but as a whole, in reading everything you embrace the Momofuku way of life. $40.00

Eleven Madison Park the cookbook by Daniel Humm & Will Guidara

More than just a book of recipes; to read the Eleven Madison Park Cookbook is to immerse yourself and experience the humming (ha!) generator of one of New York's great underdog stories and best restaurants. $55.00

Mourad New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou

Like so many other cooks in San Francisco, Mourad Lahlou came to the city as a graduate student. After starting to cook the foods he missed from his native Morocco, his interest in economics was eclipsed. Meals for himself gradually morphed into the Michelin-starred restaurant, Aziza, From basics like different harissas and chickpea spread beautifully minimalist dishes such as fava beans and ramps, 5 ½  minute eggs and chicken cracklings and in Morocco meets modernist, berbere-crusted scallops with cauliflower couscous and vadouvan foam. $46.00

Back to Baking by Anna Olson

A very simple and elegant book with detailed instructions and side notes to help the baker stay on track. The book contains mouthwatering pictures to shoot for and to provide exemplars. Anna provides basic baking tips to give you the best results as well she includes recipes for restricted diets. This is destined to be a classic baking book for yeas to come. $40.00

Thanks guys - I know some of these have made it onto (or moved up) my ongoing wish-list - it's really helpful to have some "cheat notes" to help us navigate around the giant cookbook selection out there.

If you're lucky enough to live in Toronto, drop by and say hi to Alison, Kevin and Jennifer....

the cookbook store
850 Yonge St. (at Yorkville)
Toronto, Ontario,   M4W 2H1
tel 416-920-2665/1-800-268-6018
fax 416-920-3271

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