--THE ART & SCIENCE OF FOOD PAIRING (Firefly Books, 2020, 388 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by the team of Peter Coucquyt (chef), Bernard Lahousse (bio-engineer), and Johan Langenbick (entrepreneur) who together co-founded "Foodpairing", a creative food-tech agency that works with chefs and bartenders to provide new food combos. They analyze foods to identify flavour components and have created the world's largest ingredient/flavour database. The pairings have been validated by 14 top chefs. Here they present 10,000 flavour matches such as chocolate on cauliflower and kiwi with oyster. It's all based on aromatic molecular properties of foods (80% of the taste is via the nose, the rest is vua the tongue). The matches that they give us are graphed as taste wheels and colour keys. You look up one ingredient and you wil find 10 food pairings with a colour wheel that states the taste results. They cover key food characteristics ( a Modal Varietal Character, which I use in my wine reviews), aroma profiles, classic and contemporary combos – all with scientific explanations. The top 150 ingredients are listed (maybe there is more to come?) along with their wheels and keys. This is a great book at a decent price for that foodie at Christmas.
--TRAVELS WITH MY SPATULA (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 144 pages, $27.95 hardbound) is by Tori Haschka, a food and travel writer-blogger from Sydney. She's got you covered for eating fresh sardines with Campari, peach and fennel in Venice, and apple fritters in the Swiss Alps, or maybe some different breakfasts for when you wake up. It's a mix of food and travel, as that is what Tori is. Good enough as a host gift for the inveterate traveller. The photography is all plated food while the travelling is all text. You'll have to use your imagination in this lively book. Check her out at www.eatori.com
-GLUTEN-FREE HOLIDAY COOKIES (Artisan, 2020, 96 pages, $17.95 hardbound) is part of the Artisanal Kitchen series of small handbooks. This one is by Alice Medrich with Maya Klein. They've got over 30 recipes "to sweeten the season" . Not all then preps are exclusively Christmas: the standards here reflect both the classics (chocolate chip, ginger, double oatmeal, nutty thumbprint, et al)
and the festives (buckwheat walnut or hazelnut tuiles, toasty pecan biscotti, chocolate sables, ginger-peach squares, et al). Sure to be a winner in the hostess gift sweepstakes, for it even includes conversion charts.
--JEWISH HOLIDAY BAKING (Artisan, 2020, 112 pages, $17.95 hardbound) is part of the Artisanal Kitchen series of small handbooks. This one is by Uri Scheft with Raquel Pelzel. They've got over 25 preps for inspirations dealing with Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover, and more. The savoury section includes challah, potato hamantaschen, spinach burekas; the sweets have date mamoul, chocolate rugelach, sufganiyot. Another great hostess gift, which also includes conversion charts.
--THE GOODE GUIDE TO WINE; a manifesto of sorts (University of California Press, 2020, 233 pages, $24.95 hardbound) is by the renowned UK wine writer Jamie Goode, who visits a lot of wine regions. It's a collection of observations and opinions about wine absurdities, excitements, interests, and how things could be better in wine culture. Of late he has been doing and saying nice things about Ontario wines, but there 's nothing here about that. There is, however, an illuminating article on how to succeed at wine writing by writing boring articles. It's a great book for the knowledgeable wine lover who has almost everything.
--MAN'OUSHE; inside the Lebanese street corner baker (Interlink Books, 2020, 200 pages, $43.95 hardbound) is by Barbara Abdeni Massaad, a food writer whose family owned a Lebanese restaurant "Kebabs and Things" in Florida. She has since located back to Lebanon, and here gives us a stunning document about kitchen rituals and traditions of Lebanese culture. The national pie is man'pushe, and she has 70 recipes for the perfect style of pies as found in a Lebanese bakery. It's a great snack, and she goes through the range of fillings, from cheese, yogurt, egg, chicken, meat preserve, and Armenian sausage. Photography is by her and by Raymond Yazbeck. She tells stories about the bakeries, the places, and the types of pies. She's got a pantry description as well as kitchen tools and techniques for making/baking the dough. And of course it all starts with za'tar and wild thyme pie. It's a work of art, not just a cookbook, and has been been endorsed by both Alice Waters and Paula Wolfert.
--DELICIOUS DIPS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 2020, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is a publisher's collection of some 50 recipes for dips from fresh and tangy to rich and creamy, using meats, legumes, veggies, herbs, olives, nuts, seeds, yogurt and cheese. Something for all, from 13 different UK food writers, principally Hannah Miles (with 15 preps).
--HOW TO DICE AN ONION (Dog 'n' Bone, 2020, 128 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is by Anne Sheasby. These are hacks, tips and tricks for the home cook, originally published in 2007 as "Kitchen Wisdom". Scores and scores of fail-safes will reward the budding home cook, offering assistance in all aspects of cookery. The best tips are those that try to correct your mistakes; next best are those tricks that employ substitution. It's an easy read, but try to dip into it often for reminders.
--PINK GIN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 64 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is a collection of some 30 or so pink-hued cocktails. Most of the preps come from Julia Charles, with some more from Laura Gladwin. It's an open-and-shut slender work, with the recipes scattered among three categories: cocktails, sparklers, and coolers. Most call for "pink gin" but you can use regular gin and add your own colouring, if need be (grenadine, cranberry juice, rose/red wine).
--VENETIAN REPUBLIC (Interlink Publishing Group, 2020, 256 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Nino Zoccali, chef-owner of some Italian restaurants in Sydney Australia. He has written before on diverse cuisines of Italy. These recipes here come from the days when Venice was a world power, the centre of the spice/salt/silk trade routes. The four key regions were: Venice and the lagoon islands, the surrounding Veneto, the Croatian coast, and the Greek Islands (Santorini, Cyprus, Crete, Corfu, et al). Hence, we have Venetian Prosecco and snapper risotto, Croatian roast lamb shoulder with olive oil potatoes, Cretan sweet and sour red mullet, Corfu's zabaglione, and Dubrovnik's ricotta and rose liqueur crepes. It's all arranged by the regions, with sub-arrangement by course (from antipasti to dolci). And it has a whack of history/culture behind each prep. Loaded with mostly pictures of finished plates, but there are also some maps and tourist attractions.
--THE SICILY COOKBOOK (DK Publishing, 2020, 240 pages, $39 hardbound) is by Cettina Vicenzino who was born in Sicily and grew up in Germany. She is a cook, food photographer, and writer, and has written several books on Italian and Sicilian cuisine. Three types of food are here --cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsù (sophisticated food).
It's part cookbook and part travel, with loads of her own photos and cultural/gastronomical notes emphasizing local chefs and food producers.. The arrangement is by course, primi (Sicilian cuisine doesn't include antipasti) pasta, through secondi mains and piatto unico, intermezzi, and dolci. She's got a few non-alcoholic drinks and some wine. In all, the vast majority of her 70 preps use local spices, citrus, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood. This is a real treat for Sicilian food lovers, featuring ricotta dumplings in an orange and tomato sauce, stuffed sardines, salt cod, and grilled octopus with ricotta hummus.
--ARAN (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 240 pages, $42.50 hardbound) is by Flora Sheddon, who became the youngest ever semi-finalist on The Great British Bake Off Baking Show in 2015. She runs Aran bakery in Dunkeld, Highland Perthshire. She has also written a weekly baking column for the Sunday Telegraph. These are recipes and stories from a bakery in the heart of Scotland. Material includes the origins of the bakery (aran is Scottish Gaelic for bread or loaf) and a day in its life from dawn to dusk. There is location photography plus a slew of recipes for breakfast, lunch and High Tea. Typical are a pork, apple and sage sausage roll, and apricot and almond frangipani. Try also chocolate oat cookies, pear, coffee and hazelnut cake, and pomegranate and raspberry financiers. An impressive giftbook for the baker in your life.