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  • Gift Ideas: The Best Cook Books Of 2011

    [caption id="attachment_5091" align="alignleft" width="351" caption="Cook Books Of 2011"]books[/caption]

    For the cook in your family, check out some of these great cook books of 2011, courtesy of The New York Times:

    ANCIENT GRAINS FOR MODERN MEALS by Maria Speck (Ten Speed Press, $29.99). Yes, part of the appeal is the title: “Ancient” sounds so much more interesting than “whole.” But Ms. Speck’s skill as a researcher, and her dual heritage in Greece and Germany, enrich the text — and not just in flavorful recipes like bulgur with butter-roasted almonds and cinnamon, and brown rice cakes with pecorino cheese, olives and sage. Refreshingly, she covers — and then dismisses — the subject of eating whole grains for health in the first half-dozen pages. She’s interested in flavor first, texture second and history along with both. JULIA MOSKIN

    COOKING IN THE MOMENT by Andrea Reusing (Clarkson Potter, $35). Most chefs aren’t writers, but Ms. Reusing, of Lantern restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C., is a compelling exception. She built her reputation in the kitchen with ingenious combinations of Asian and Southern ingredients. Here she offers a vision of modern domestic life that includes chickens and small children, local bok choy and carnitas — and it’s written so nicely that you don’t hate the visionary. JULIA MOSKIN

    COOKING MY WAY BACK HOME by Mitchell Rosenthal and Jon Pult (Ten Speed Press, $35). A Louisiana-influenced chef, Mr. Rosenthal runs three soulful American restaurants in San Francisco. He understands simple pleasures (prime rib, barbecued shrimp, angels on horseback) and how to give them the modern tweaks that home cooks want, like dates stuffed with peanuts and tasso. JULIA MOSKIN

    THE FOOD OF MOROCCO by Paula Wolfert (Ecco, $45). More than an update of her influential 1973 book, “Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco,” this  colorful tome is the culmination of 40 years’ research and unprecedented access to Moroccan cooks and kitchens. JULIA MOSKIN

    THE FOOD OF SPAIN by Claudia Roden (Ecco, $39.99). The first hundred pages of this doorstop by a prolific and serious food writer and Sefardita, or Jew of Spanish origin, offer a comprehensive history of the evolution of Spanish food. They are followed by a collection of clear recipes divided into a dozen sections, starting with tapas, and made accessible by inviting the cook to use canned beans and stocks. My guests raved about the thick spinach and chickpea soup, giant Galician tuna empanada in flaky pastry and lamb stew with honey. FLORENCE FABRICANT

    Read more at The New York Times

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