Books·Gift Guide

16 cookbooks for your holiday shopping list

From Thai food to baked goods, here's a list of cookbooks for the chef or baker on your holiday shopping list.

From Thai food to baked goods, here's a list of cookbooks for the chef or baker on your holiday shopping list.

30-minute Low Carb Dinners by Valerie Azinge

30-minute Low Carb Dinners is a cookbook by Valerie Azinge. (Page Street Publishing, www.mydigitalkitchen.ca)

Valerie Azinge curates 75 of her own dinner recipes for the chef who needs a quick fix with fewer carbohydrates. Azinge's recipes are designed to take under 30 minutes by relying on methods like sheet pan, one-pot and batch cooking. Some of her recipes include cauliflower mash, zucchini noodles and blistered cherry tomatoes.

Azinge is a caterer who writes a popular blog called My Digital Kitchen, where she chronicles her journey in crafting healthy, simple recipes. 30 Minute Low Carb Dinners is her first book. She lives in Toronto.

Valerie Azinge on the inspiration behind her cookbook, 30 minute Low Carb Dinners.

Well-Seasoned by Mary Berg

Well Seasoned is a cookbook by Mary Berg. (Appetite by Random House, Lauren Vandenbrook)

Over the course of a year, Mary Berg's cravings change with the seasons. Her new cookbook Well-Seasoned contains 100 recipes — from summer cottage pancakes to winter-y eggnog basque cheesecake. The dishes are tailored to what's available and fresh at the farmer's market and what the weather inspires her to eat. 

Berg is the star of the cooking shows Mary Makes It Easy and Mary's Kitchen Crush, as well as the season 3 winner of MasterChef Canada. Her previous cookbook, Kitchen Partywas a bestseller. She lives in Toronto.

Mary Berg, of CTV’s Mary's Kitchen Crush, on her new cookbook Kitchen Party: Effortless Recipes for Every Occasion.

New Native Kitchen by Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli

New Native Kitchen is a cookbook by Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli (not pictured). (Abrams Books, Mark Woodward)

Chef Freddie Bitsoie and food writer James O. Fraioli have compiled a cookbook celebrating modern Indigenous cuisine in North America. Bitsoie celebrates the diversity of flavours in Indigenous dishes from coast to coast, including cherrystone clam soup from the Northeastern Wampanoag and spice-rubbed pork tenderloin from the Pueblo peoples. 

Bitsoie is a Navajo cook and previously served as executive chef of Mitsitam Native Foods Café in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Fraioli is a James Beard Award-winning writer based in Seattle.

Flavorbomb by Bob Blumer

Flavorbomb is a book by Bob Blumer. (Appetite by Random House)

This aptly named cookbook is full of recipes and techniques designed to create the boldest, most vibrant flavours possible. The first half is dedicated to tips, tricks and ingredients to help amateur chefs crack the code to flavour-filled cooking. The second contains 75 recipes that will have you covered from breakfast to dessert, including a puttanesca pasta "La Bomba" with rustic fried breadcrumbs.

Flavorbomb won gold in the general cookbooks, English-language, category at the 2021 Taste Canada Awards, which celebrates the best food writing in the country. 

Born in Montreal, Blumer is best known as a host for the Food Network and has written six cookbooks. He now lives in Los Angeles.

Acorn: Vegetables Re-Imagined by Shira Blustein and Brian Luptak 

Acorn is a cookbook by Shira Blustein and Brian Luptak. (Gabriel Cabrera, Appetite by Random House, Kamil Bialous)

The Acorn restaurant in Vancouver has been celebrated for its innovative, vegetable-focused menu since opening in 2012. In their cookbook, owner Shira Blustein and chef Brian Luptak share the unique techniques and recipes they've developed to coax the best flavours from seasonal and wild ingredients. Some recipes include: spring radishes with ashed spring onion almond sauce, fried garlic scapes and stinging nettle soup.

The Acorn has received national awards and been featured in publications like The New York Times and Bon Appétit. Blustein also owns a restaurant called The Arbor in Vancouver.

Luptak was the head chef at The Acorn for five years. He lives in Vancouver.

Best East Coast Jams and Pickles by Alice Burdick

Best East Coast Jams, Pickles, Preserves & Breads is a cookbook by Alice Burdick. (Forma Lorimer Books, Facebook/@aliceburdickgrandmascookies)

Alice Burdick draws from an 80-year-old cookbook, with dishes going back to 1800s Nova Scotia, to create this book of traditional recipes. Using modern day equipment, Burdick highlights east coast ingredients — from blueberries to crabapples — in jams, jellies and preserves and also includes recipes for Cape Breton brown bread, corn muffins and other baked goods.

Burdick is a poet and baker from Mahone Bay, N.S. Her previous cookbook was called Grandma's Cookies, Cakes, Pies and Sweets.

Moon Cakes and Milk Bread by Kristina Cho

Mooncakes & Milk Bread is a cookbook by Kristina Cho. (Harper Horizon, https://eatchofood.com/)

In Moon Cakes and Milk Bread, Kristina Cho celebrates the sweet and savoury treats of Chinese bakeries and cafes across the U.S. The book intersperses recipes of fluffy milk bread and dumplings with Cho's own memories of growing up in her family's restaurant in Cleveland and special trips to Chinatown bakeries. Other recipes include BBQ pork buns, pineapple buns and chocolate Swiss rolls.

Cho is the blogger behind eatchofood.com, which shares Asian-inspired recipes. Moon Cakes and Milk Bread is her first book. She now lives in San Francisco.

Hearth & Home by Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk

Hearth & Home is a cookbook by Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk. (Penguin Random House Canada, Ryan Szulc)

In Hearth & Home, Canadian chefs and partners Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk share their favourite family-style recipes for casual nights and small celebrations at home. There are over 140 recipes, including turkey cheddar biscuit pot pie and honey-garlic ribs.

Crawford is an award-winning author of cookbooks and has over 25 years of experience in kitchens, including as the executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto and New York. She's a well-known figure on the Food Network on shows like Wall of Chefs and Junior Chef Showdown. 

Kirk is considered one of Canada's leading chefs and has worked internationally for over 20 years. She co-founded and ran the successful Toronto restaurant Ruby Watchco with Crawford for over a decade.

Chef Lynn Crawford and Chef Lora Kirk on Hearth & Home: Cook, Share, and Celebrate Family-Style.

Sheet Pan Everything by Ricardo Larrivée

Sheet Pan Everything is a cookbook by Ricardo Larrivee. (Appetite by Random House, Jocelyn Michel)

Ricardo Larrivée emphasizes ease and simplicity with his collection of one-pan, family-style recipes. There are over 75 quick recipes with dishes like chicken wings and cauliflower with honey-mustard sauce and cheesesteak subs. In addition to weeknight dinners, the book covers brunch, snacks and desserts.

Larrivée is a chef and popular TV host from Quebec. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015 in recognition of his work making cooking more accessible to Canadians.

Life is What You Bake It by Vallery Lomas

Life is What You Bake It is a book of baking recipes by Vallery Lomas. (Linda Xiao, Clarkson Potter)

Vallery Lomas's acclaimed debut book features over 100 recipes that span the cities of her life, from growing up in Louisiana to studying in Paris and living in New York City. Featured on many "best of the year" lists, Life is What You Bake It includes recipes for apple cider fritters, crawfish hand pies and Lomas's Grandma's Million Dollar Cake.

Lomas is a former lawyer who won The Great American Baking Show. She also hosts the digital show Vallery Bakes Your Questions on the Food Network.

The Double Happiness Cookbook by Trevor Lui

The Double Happiness Cookbook is a cookbook by Toronto chef Trevor Lui. (Figure 1 Publishing)

Alongside mouth-watering recipes for BBQ pork on rice and sweet chili cauliflower wings, Trevor Lui recounts his decision to leave his corporate job for the kitchen. There are 88 fusion recipes inspired by Asian cuisine, which celebrate Lui's heritage and family history as a first generation Canadian.

Some of Lui's successful Toronto food ventures include Kanpai Snack Bar, Yatai Japanese Street Food, Shook Noodle, La Brea Food, Joybird Fried Chicken, and Makan Noodle Bar. The Double Happiness Cookbook is his first book.

Eat Habibi Eat! by Shahir Massoud

Eat, Habibi, Eat! is a cookbook by Shahir Massoud (shahirmassoud.com, Appetite by Random House)

Shahir Massoud shares recipes from his Egyptian-Canadian home in Eat Habibi Eat!. There are over 100 dishes, from shakshuka to shawarma, that are inspired by some of Massoud's favourite street foods and home cooking from the Middle East.

Massoud is a chef and TV personality. He previously hosted the CBC show The Goods, as well as Man of the Kitchen and Around the World in 8 Meals. Eat Habibi Eat! is his first book.

Chef Shahir Massoud talks about the classic and modernized takes on Egyptian cuisine in his debut cookbook as well as his path from accountant to chef and what that did to his parents!

Antoni: Let's Do Dinner by Antoni Porowski

Antoni: Let's Do Dinner is a cookbook by Antoni Porowski. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Paul Brissman)

Queer Eye's food and wine expert Antoni Porowski is known for crafting simple and efficient dishes to inspire the least enthusiastic of cooks. His second book Let's Do Dinner continues this theme with post-work dinner recipes and ideas on how to make your pantry basics work as hard as possible. Recipes include pasta carbonara with scallions and peas and pan-seared steak with harissa butter and crispy potatoes.

Porowski grew up in Montreal. His first cookbook, Antoni in the Kitchenwas a bestseller.

Queer Eye's food and drink expert Antoni Porowski joined Tom Power to dish on his first cookbook, Antoni in the Kitchen, and the important role food has played in his life.

Kiin by Nuit Regular

Kiin is a cookbook by chef Nuit Regular. (Penguin Canada, bychefnuit.com)

Nuit Regular learned to cook in her mother's Thai kitchen and brings those unique flavours to her cookbook Kiinwhich translates to "Eat" in English. The book focuses on northern Thailand's style of cuisine, with recipes for steamed chicken dumplings, young green jackfruit curry and northern beef curry.

The cookbook won a gold medal at the 2021 Taste Canada Awards, which celebrates the best in Canadian food writing.

Regular is the co-owner and executive chef at restaurants Pai Northern Thai Kitchen, Sabai Sabai, Sukhothai and Kiin. She lives in Toronto.

Earth to Table Bakes by Bettina Schormann and Erin Schiestel

Earth to Table Bakes is a cookbook by Bettina Schormann, left, and Erin Schiestel, right. (Maya Visnyei, Penguin Books)

Pastry chefs Bettina Schormann and Erin Schiestel have curated over 100 recipes from their partnership in the kitchen. Designed for everyday baking at home, Earth to Table Bakes blends unexpected ingredients for delicious treats like salted tahini chocolate chunk cookies, almond anise biscotti and strawberry glazed chai cake doughnuts.

Schormann is the co-owner of three Earth to Table: Bread Bar restaurants in Hamilton and Guelph, Ont. She also co-wrote two previous cookbooks: Earth to Table and Earth to Table Every Day.

Schiestel was a key member in the opening of the three Earth to Table: Bread Bar restaurants and oversees the restaurants' pastry production and custom cakes. She was named one of the Ontario Hostelry Institute's Top 30 Under 30 in 2011.

Black Food edited by Bryant Terry

Black Food is a cookbook edited by Bryant Terry. (George McCalman/4 Color Books, Celeste Noche)

Bryant Terry gathers food-inspired contributions — recipes, stories and art — from over 100 Black cultural figures from around the world for this anthological cookbook. Original poetry and essays include, Jollofing with Toni Morrison by Sarah Ladipo Manyiko and The Spiritual Ecology of Black Food by Leah Penniman. There are recipes for crispy cassava skillet cakes by Yewande Komolafe, jerk chicken ramen by Suzanne Barr and spicy pickled carrot and rof dressing by Pierre Thiam.

Terry is a James Beard Award-winning chef and author of the cookbooks Afro-Vegan and Vegetable Kingdom. He's currently the chef-in-residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

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