Carli Ratcliff

For wandering gastronomes ... <i>A Sardinian Cookbook</i> by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir. Click for more photos

Recipes for Christmas Joy

For wandering gastronomes ... A Sardinian Cookbook by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir. Photo: Rachel Murdolo

Turn over a new leaf with cookbook gifts for young kitchen novices, aspiring Michelin stars - and everyone in between.

FOR SERIOUS FOODIES

White Truffles in Winter (a novel) by N.M. Kelby (Allen & Unwin) RRP $27.99.

Little is known about the world's first celebrity chef, Auguste Escoffier. Author N.M. Kelby has tried to join the dots in this fictitious account of his life. The man who is credited with having devised the notion of the ''prix fixe'' menu and invented the commercial kitchen hierarchy under which most restaurant brigades still operate, allegedly led a colourful life away from the pans, including a life-long love affair with the actor Sarah Bernhardt.

The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow, Ross O'Meara (Murdoch Books) RRP $49.99.

Evans, together with two Tasmanian-based mates, chef Ross O'Meara and cheese maker Nick Haddow of SBS TV's Gourmet Farmer series, has compiled his favourite recipes for artisan deli goods, from pickled vegetables to sausages, cured ham and smoked meats. The first half is dedicated to developing your artisan know-how, the second to recipes using what you've hung, dried or bottled.

Paul Bocuse: The Complete Recipes by Paul Bocuse (Flammarion, distributor Thames & Hudson) RRP $59.95.

Hailed as the ''cookbook of the century'', with Bocuse named ''chef of the century'' by the Culinary Institute of America, this 783-page tome weighs in at 2.8 kilograms, holds more than 500 recipes, and covers French techniques from the basic to the particular and precise.

More ideas for serious foodies:

■ The Complete Nose to Tail: A Kind of British Cooking by Fergus Henderson (Bloomsbury) RRP $59.99.

■ Origin by Ben Shewry (Murdoch Books) RRP $95.

 

SWEET TOOTH

Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons by Adriano Zumbo (Murdoch Books) RRP $24.99.

This hard-to-miss, candy-striped book holds some of the secrets to Zumbo's macaron success: an Italian, rather than French, meringue base is preferable, he says. In addition to the tips, there are recipes for 40 flavours, from an elegant citrus mandarin to wild wasabi and pickled ginger, plus finger buns complete with desiccated coconut.

Sweet Studio by Darren Purchese (Murdoch Books) RRP $49.99.

For the sweet tooth who welcomes a challenge, dessert maestro Purchese shows how to construct sweet treats that look like Lego; and sweet bacon, eggs and toast with raspberry tomato ketchup. There are also recipes for gin and tonic marshmallows and candied bacon slices dipped in milk chocolate, as well as a handful of more traditional recipes, including a chocolate, pear and hazelnut cake and a coconut mousse.

Planet Cake Kids, Paris Cutler (Murdoch Books) RRP $39.99.

Cakes and creations, including a Man in the Moon, a spooky graveyard and a cake of candy floss clouds, are among the 680 featured here. Templates, recipes and instructions with step-by-step photos illustrate how to slice, ice and shape cakes. The second half of the book is dedicated to cake toppers fashioned from royal icing by youngsters, who after years of play dough already possess the requisite skills to confidently roll out ninja rabbits and penguin decorations for their cakes.

More ideas for your sweetie:

■ Desserts by Belinda Jeffery (Penguin Lantern) RRP $49.99.

■ Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller (Hardie Grant) RRP $75.

 

STOCKING FILLERS

The Garden Cook: Grow, Cook and Eat with Kids by Fiona Inglis (Murdoch Books) RRP $29.99. The author, a former MasterChef contestant, school teacher and co-ordinator of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden, treats children as capable beings, equally adept in the kitchen and the garden. The book includes plenty of kitchen how-to and gardening tips. The recipes, using ingredients from the garden, are healthy and interesting, ranging from tabouleh and jambalaya to butter chicken curry and pork and ginger dumplings.

Lantern Cookery Classics (Penguin Lantern) RRP $19.99 each.

This collection, a sister series to the cream and tangerine covered Penguin Classics, celebrates Australian household names, among them Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander, Kylie Kwong, Matt Moran, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan. Each book showcases favourite recipes and covers starters, mains, sweets and basics. A lightweight taste of home to post to expats.

After Toast by Kate Gibbs (Fairfax Books/Allen & Unwin) RRP $29.99.

A perfect gift for the school- leaver heading to university, or those venturing into their first share house. ''Not-quite'' huevos rancheros, ''Spoonable'' French toast and ''Eyes closed'' strawberry jam are achievable, interesting starts to the day. The granddaughter of Margaret Fulton and daughter of magazine food director Suzanne Gibbs, Gibbs is a third-generation cook and, despite her youth, already has a long history behind the stove.

More gifts for kitchen and garden novices:

■ Hugh's Three Good Things by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury) RRP $49.99.

■ Little Veggie Patch Co's Guide to Backyard Farming by Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember (Plum) RRP $45. Read an interview with Mat Pember here.

 

EVERYDAY COOKING

Easy Weekends by Neil Perry (Murdoch Books) RRP $49.99.

''Happy cooking is about memory, love, happiness and life,'' Neil Perry says. This book is a weekend visit to his place. Friday night dinners run to seared Hiramasa kingfish salad, or fried eggs with spicy tamarind dressing. Family favourites including roast chicken with ginger kumara puree and spring leg of lamb are Sunday lunch fare.

Sydney Seafood School Cookbook by Roberta Muir (Penguin Lantern) RRP $49.99.

An anthology of recipes by leading Australian chefs who frequently instruct at Australia's largest cooking school, including Tetsuya Wakuda, Damien Pignolet, Guillaume Brahimi, David Thompson and Stefano Manfredi. The book includes tips and techniques illustrated with step-by-step photographs of how to scale, fillet and butterfly fish, shuck oysters and select a whole fish.

More Fired Up: No Nonsense Barbecuing by Ross Dobson (Murdoch Books) RRP $39.99.

In time for outdoor summer dining, Dobson's second barbecue book features recipes that run from easy midweek dinners, which include Marrakesh chops, to weekend lunches of whole Sicilian-flavoured fish or pork with vinegar, garlic and spice. Oft ignored in barbecue-land, pescatarians and vegetarians are catered for with recipes for rainbow trout stuffed with Persian rice, Indian spiced eggplant and lime leaf and lemongrass tofu.

More weeknight inspiration:

■ Matt Preston's 100 Best Recipes by Matt Preston (Plum/Pan Macmillan Australia) RRP $39.95.

■ Heat & Smoke by Bob Hart (heatandsmoke.com), our columnist's definitive barbecue guide, RRP $24.95.

 

TASTES OF THE WORLD

Zenbu Zen by Jane Lawson (Murdoch Books) RRP $69.99.

Gentle Kyoto is often overlooked for its brash big sister, Tokyo, when it comes to food experiences, but publisher and cookbook author Jane Lawson well understands the purity and Zen of Kyoto's cuisine, having immersed herself there for a year. A beautiful book filled with evocative imagery of markets, laneways, gardens and ryokans, which give way to recipes including the wildly popular tonkatsu (fried crumbed pork cutlets) and tai to tamago (rice with snapper and yuzu, eggs optional).

Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury) RRP $55.

British cook and food writer Fuchsia Dunlop is an authority on Chinese cuisine. Her first cookbook is ''primarily a book about how to make vegetables taste divine with very little expense or effort, and how to make meat go a long way'', she says. Among them, smacked cucumber in garlicky sauce, chicken livers with Chinese chives, and stir-fried mashed potato with preserved mustard greens.

Greater Mekong by Luke Nguyen (Hardie Grant) RRP $55.

Following the Mekong River from China through Burma, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia and arriving in Vietnam, Nguyen and photographer Suzanna Boyd chart the food of communities dependent on the Mekong Delta. Recipes include Laotian capsicums stuffed with pork, bamboo salad from Myanmar, and one-thousand-layer pork belly from China.

More ideas for wandering gastronomes:

■ A Sardinian Cookbook by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir (Penguin Lantern) RRP $49.99.

■ The Food of Morocco, by Paula Wolfert (Bloomsbury) RRP $65.