If you want to put an English spin on your cooking, all you need to do is pick up Todd English’s elegant new cookbook, Cooking in Everyday English. Flavorful vinaigrettes, quickly made compound butters, sensational spice blends and a few choice condiments are English’s basic building blocks. Then he takes you through the gourmet gamut from cocktails and appetizers to desserts, with many intriguing variations on everyday standards—Semolina Polenta, Chicken Stroganoff, Corn Falafel, Bluefish Saltimbocca and Brownie Hash (no, not hash brownies)—all eminently doable in your own kitchen. Every recipe is lovingly illustrated with color photos of the necessary ingredients and the totally tempting finished dish. Brush up on your English and make great meals while you’re at it.

If you or anyone on your holiday hit list starts quaking at the thought of baking, Caroline Breatherton’s lusciously illustrated, exactingly explained recipes in Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking serve up support for virtual beginners and inspiration for virtuosos and make it all a piece of cake. From Baked Alaska to Brioche, Cheese Soufflé to Chocolate Chestnut Roulade, more than 300 easy-to-follow, fail-proof recipes guide you through a banquet of baked treasures, sweet and savory. Twelve chapters, with 80 master recipes and 240 variations, offer edible ideas for brunch, picnics, parties, appetizer bites, children’s delights, fast fixes and make-ahead masterpieces.

Every once in a while, a fabulous cookbook shows up that takes you into an entirely new world. For me, these are books to read, to ponder, to lose yourself in; a source of intense culinary pleasure, but not necessarily everyday recipes. Mourad Lahlou’s beautiful debut cookbook, Mourad: New Moroccan, belongs in this exalted category. What he serves up here, and at his San Francisco restaurant, is his personal interpretation of Moroccan food, the best of his inventive riffing and innovative use of Northern Californian ingredients. The recipes are complex and intriguing; whether you prepare them or peruse them, you’ll be swept into the magic of Mourad’s Moroccan cuisine, and his short opening chapters on his seven essentials may change the way you season everything.

Molly Stevens, author of the award-winning All About Braising, has done it again with All About Roasting, a new masterful master class on roasting that’s comprehensive, comprehensible and consummately usable. You’re in for a heated love affair with your oven as Stevens explains the roasting process, the principles behind the technique, the dialogue between the cook, the heat and the food, and then provides deliciously detailed recipes for everything from a classic Sear-Roasted Chateaubriand with Sauce Béarnaise, Cuban-Style Marinated Slow-Roasted Pork Picnic Shoulder and Panko-Crusted Roast Cod Fillets to Blasted Broccoli with Kalamata Vinaigrette and Brown-Sugar Roasted Pineapple.

Don't miss Gourmet gifts galore: Part I.

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