Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple recommends

Don't forget: the books mentioned below are available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code "tablehopper" at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

It’s a great time for cookbooks and food writing—publishers present their best books at this time of year, and our cooking section is jam-packed with the seasonal bounty. Here’s a brief list of promising books for every food lover, baker, home cook, beginner, restaurant owner, line cook, and vegetarian on your list. (While these books are all 20% off for you tablehopper readers, given the current economics, I should also mention that we have thousands of used cookbooks in very nice condition and hundreds of “remaindered” cookbooks—as-new books selling for less than half the cover price.) Let’s get to it.

For the food lover who hates to cook:
The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones. As the SF Chronicle noted last year when this first came out, “You may not know her name, but Judith Jones’ stamp on the culinary world is indisputable. As a senior editor at Alfred A. Knopf publishing company for much of her life, Jones has been the woman behind such culinary greats as Julia Child, Marion Cunningham, and Joan Nathan, to name just a few.” This charming memoir recounts the post-World War II time she spent in Paris, her culinary awakening there, and her subsequent life discovering the delights of American food. Now in paperback, The Tenth Muse is an enchanting memoir for food-lovers.

For the beginning cook:
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten. Reminiscent of Alice Waters’ seminal Art of Simple Cooking, this Barefoot Contessa book shoots straight with simple recipes that allow quality ingredients to speak for themselves. It’s mostly standards, like pot roast or Tuscan roasted chicken, but there are a few promising wild cards, too, like the creamy cucumber salad or roasted pears with blue cheese. And everything looks consistently delectable—it really made me want to go home and cook. Most importantly, for those who get nervous or lost in the kitchen, all recipes are beginner-friendly and relatively simple.

For the baker, aspiring or otherwise:
Bakewise: the Hows and Whys of Successful Baking by Shirley Corriher. This is a real gem, my favorite book of today’s list, and long awaited by fans of her general cookbook, Cookwise. This book blends recipes, technique, and chemistry into some delicious sweets and breads. And you can use it in any of these ways: if you’re uncurious, these are foolproof recipes (as long as you follow directions). If you’re into food chemistry, you can skip the messy baking and just read up on what makes meringues weep or bead. Or you can study the hows and whys of her recipes, then apply them to your own recipes. Truly a fascinating, accessible, and multi-use baking book that’s more than just a collection of recipes.

For the vegetarian:
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman. Sure, this book has been out a year already, but it’s definitely one of the best all-around veggie cookbooks, so it merits the attention. At 900+ pages and 2,000+ recipes, this is simply one of those essential all-in-one cookbooks that anchors anyone’s collection (the other veggie standard-bearer is Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, FYI). Bittman covers everything, and often offers simple substitutions to “veganize” many recipes. And at $35, it’s a real value. What’s that, .0175 cents per recipe?

For the line cook or aspiring chef:
On the Line: the Stations, the Heat, the Cooks, the Costs, the Chaos, and the Triumphs by Eric Ripert. This is a complete and stimulating look inside a top restaurant, including its kitchen, hiring and training, efficiencies, finances, and flower bill. Be witness to the processes behind the greatness of New York’s Le Bernardin in this beautiful and engaging book. Oh, plus 50 of Eric’s favorite recipes.

For the serious home cook: beyond following recipes:
The Flavor Bible: the Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. This is a food-based follow-up to their highly successful (and well-used at my house) book on pairing food and wine (What to Drink with What You Eat). After an impassioned and reasonable introduction on how cooking is an act of love, a creative process, and not just the transformation of food through heat, there’s an interesting chapter or two. But the bulk of this book is a dictionary style list of what ingredients best complement each other (and what techniques marry them best). Sound simple enough? You try pairing kohlrabi with dozens of things to discover that sesame oil works best. This book offers basic, tested help for those who wish to move beyond recipes to something more creative.

For the professional:
Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide by Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame). I humbly admit to being pretty much unqualified to review this book, but as it’s the first mainstream sous vide book published in the USA, it merits mention, right?

I hope I covered everybody on your list, or at least whetted your appetite. If you need any other recommendations, we have literally 1,500+ other food/cookbooks in the store, well organized for your browsing delight, plus helpful booksellers at your service. Happy holidays, and thanks for reading.

~ Pete