Holiday Gifts: Cookbooks for Every Craving

As much as some cookbooks have become coffee-table decorations, I appreciate a book that inspires a cover-to-cover read or motivation to cook the hell out of it. Though I'm no Carol Blymire, who has worked her way through French Laundry and Alinea, my copies of Gourmet and The Lee Brothers are lovingly worn.

What cookbooks are we craving to become new favorites? After the jump, a handful of 2011 books to consider as holiday gifts.

1. Ruhlman's Twenty: For the budding chef
A practical guide from one of my favorite cookbook authors, this book of 100 recipes showcases 20 essential skills, ideas, or ingredients for a successful cook.

2. Eleven Madison Park: For the gourmand
One of the few restaurants to score four stars from the New York Times, the cookbook from the celebrated restaurant is as demanding as anything by Keller and his genre. Yet a perusal of the book is inspiring and, at the very least, will cull an appreciation for the intensity and attention to detail in the best of fine dining.

3. Momofuku Milk Bar: For the baker
The follow-up to David Chang's fuck-riddled prose in last year's Momofuku, the dessert cookbook offers whimsical spins on nostalgic flavors, like the cereal milk ice cream and the compost cookie made with pretzels and coffee.

4. The Oxford Companion to Beer: For the beer geek
Compiled by Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver, this book for beer nerds showcases the history and scope of beer, featuring 1,100 entries written by more than 160 of the world's beer experts.

5. The Food52 Cookbook: For the social-networking cook
This cookbook features 140 winning recipes from the terrific website for home cooks.

6. Cook This Now: For time-pressed cook
I'm delighted by Melissa Clark's recipes in that they're healthful and easy. I've cooked through The Skinny and will likely add this one to my bookshelf.

Have other suggestions for cookbook gifts? Tell us your favorites and why in the comments.

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart