With one week to go, I hope you've finished your holiday shopping. But if not - or if you want to exchange the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" your Aunt Martha gave you - here's some terrific culinary books and cookbooks for people who love to cook or read about cooking:
Don't Try This At Home : Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs - In this raucous new collection, over forty of the world’s greatest chefs relate outrageous true tales from their kitchens. A delicious reminder that even the chefs we most admire aren’t always perfect, Don't Try This at Home is a must-have for anyone who loves food or is fascinated by those who masterfully prepare it. Includes stories from Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, and more.
Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen - Follow author Julie Powell as she blogged her yearlong odyssey of cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking a.k.a. "the Julie/Julia project." I would also recommend getting a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One in order to follow along to see how crazy Julie truly was. (Child's recipes for dessert crepes and chocolate mousse are family favorites at my house.)
Speaking of Julia Child, her The Way to Cook tome breaks down the essential skills you need to be a successful cook. From whipping up perfect egg whites to making sauces, Julia breaks it down step-by-step, making it simple enough for cooks that are a little bit scared of fine French cooking. The book features some great food photography, too and lots of fantastic classic French recipes.
I was much more impressed by Ann Byrn's Cupcakes : From the Cake Mix Doctor than her The Cake Mix Doctor book. There's some terrific ideas on making better tasting cupcakes as well as clever decorating ideas. She also gives ideas on party themes and favors and activities that complement the cupcakes in her book.