Kathleen Hill: Great cookbook gift ideas for the holidays

Food news from around the Sonoma Valley|

Cookbook gifts

Cookbooks are usually pretty safe presents if you know your home cook.

While selecting that cookbook, think of what your home cook or friends might like to cook, and not just what you would like that person to cook for you. Hopefully those match.

Television chefs sell the most books. Hence their cookbooks are the easiest to find in a bookstore or online. But it is becoming harder and harder to get a cookbook published when publishers are spending gazillions on the books of former presidents and the most famous chefs. So many chefs and food writers are self-publishing or paying others to publish for them.

Two of our favorites are just exactly that. Since they cost so much to publish this way, both entities are selling them only through their own websites or restaurants and stores. There is a cookbook for everyone.

'Mary's Italian Family Cookbook'

Mary's Pizza Shack founder Mary Fazio started making pizza and meatballs in a shack in Boyes Hot Springs that eventually got so popular she had to build the current Mary's down Highway 12. Now Mary's children, Toto and Peggy Albano and Anna Albano-Byerly have written a book that includes all of Mary's secrets -- recipes such as those blue cheese and Italian salad dressings, and her meatballs and lasagna.

Nothing held back. It's all there. Mary's fans need this one. We got one for each of our kids who practically grew up in Mary's, as did many Sonoma children. $35 at Mary's restaurants and at maryspizzashack.com. Must order by Dec. 19 for holiday delivery.

'French Beans'

Georgeanne Brennan and Steve Sando, who have both been to Sonoma many times with their previous cookbooks, have teamed up to produce a book on using Sando's Rancho Gordo beans with Brennan's long expertise in French and Provençal living and cooking.

In 'French Beans: Exploring the Bean Cuisine of France,' Brennan includes a full range of fairly easy recipes, many with only a few ingredients to make yummies such as green lentil and goat cheese spread, black bean hummus, a range of salads including salade niçoise; cassoulet, gratins, roasts and even braised chicken thighs with cranberry beans, soups and stews. Rancho Gordo beans are available in all Sonoma grocery stores. Sando lives high atop the Mayacamas Mountains. $22.99. Purchase at Rancho Gordo store, 1924 Yajome St., Napa or at ranchogordo.com.

'Salt Fat Acid Heat'

Berkeley resident Samin Nosrat's book 'Salt Fat Acid Heat' may be the hit of the cookbook season, as is her Netflix cooking show series. We know an 11-year-old boy and an 80-year-old cookbook author who are hooked on her shows. That's the range her book attracts. Nosrat's book won every 2018 cookbook award around from James Beard to Fortnum & Mason, IACP Cookbook of the Year and First Book awards, and the 2017 Sunday Times Food Book of the Year award. Foodie gossip suggests she might succeed Anthony Bourdain as world traveler chef star.

'Almonds, Anchovies & Pancetta'

Cal Peternell's new book, 'Almonds, Anchovies & Pancetta – A Vegetarian Book Kind Of,' takes you into his vast background of 22 years as chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. It includes lots of morning-after-recovery breakfast items, like 'Caesar-like gougères.' Those anchovies restore salt to the tummy extracted by alcohol the night before. $25.99.

'Cooking Like a Pro'

With millions of fans, Ina Garten seems to come out with a new cookbook just in time for holiday giving, every year. This time it's the Barefoot Contessa's 'Cook Like a Pro – Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks.' Garten's recipes are always approachable and easy with few ingredients. She makes it so simple. $35.

'Every Day Dorie'

Multiple James Beard Award winner who is lucky enough to live in both New York and Paris, Dorie Greenspan offers 'The Way I Cook.' Her books about cookies and cooking in Paris have charmed thousands. Part of a circle that feeds each other, she enjoys book notes by Yotam Ottololenghi, Samin Nosrat, David Lebovits and Christopher Kimball. $35.

'Milk Street Tuesday Nights'

Christopher Kimball named his cookbook after his Boston restaurant, Milk Street, which is also the headquarters for his cooking school, magazine and podcast. In this book he gives recipes for everything from salt and pepper shrimp to Tuscan soup and beef Suiza. Kimball's theme is that Tuesday is the new Saturday for dining out (or in) as it has been in Paris for many decades. $25.

'Ottolenghi Simple'

Yotam Ottolenghi is a British-Israeli chef who owns five delis and restaurants in London and is the newish darling of the well-equipped kitchen crowd. Not sure his Mediterranean cooking ever gets simple, but it's always interesting and good. 130 recipes. $35.

Tips Roadside launches winemaker dinners

Tips Roadside, Susie and Andrew Pryfogle's southern-style restaurant that emanated from their two successful tricked-out trolleys, takes another leap into starting winemaker dinners.

Topping Legnon winery from Santa Rosa launches the series with a five-course meal to be cooked by Tips chef Thaddeus Palmese on Thursday, Dec. 13 at the Kenwood restaurant.

Winery co-owner Dana Topping and winemaker Sandro Tamburin will be there for conversations about their chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet franc and Late Harvest Syrah as each course proceeds.

Start with pastrami lardo on a brown butter potato pancake and lemon-mustard jam, followed by salt-roasted smoked beets with a soft boiled duck egg and grilled endive. Next comes a croque madame with gruyere mornay, house bacon and winter spice pickles on charred bread; smoked venison leg with dark chocolate mole, roasted Tokyo turnips and greens, all followed by a special dessert. $125. 6 to 8:30 p.m. Limited to 40 guests. 8445 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. Reserve at tipsroadside.com or 509-0078.

Suite D adds Holiday Sweater Supper

John Toulze and Sondra Bernstein, of Suite D, invite you to wear your favorite holiday sweater, if you have one, to their suddenly added Sunday Supper this weekend on Dec. 9. It doesn't have to be an ugly sweater, and you don't even have to wear a sweater.

Just go for fun and good food. But, the top three sweaters will win unspecified prizes in Most Unique, Ugliest, and People's Choice categories.

Dinner will include a roasted beet salad with watermelon radishes, shaved fennel, goat cheese and Anise vinaigrette; crispy chicken thighs with butternut squash gratin with wild mushrooms and red wine shallot reduction; and Meyer lemon cheesecake for dessert. $38 or $32.30 for wine club and Suite D Social Club members. 5:30 p.m. 21600 Schellville Road, Sonoma. Reserve at therhoneroom.com, click on events.

Shocker: Healdsburg Shed to close Dec. 31

Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel announced on Tuesday that they will close their experimental Shed restaurant and marketplace at the end of this year. After being a staple of the Healdsburg community as well as a mecca for tourists for the past five years, the couple said they were pretty much done under by all of the fires. Many Sonoma restaurateurs say their businesses are still slow, and some have actually closed or drastically reduced hours since last October.

We were just at Shed three weeks ago and it seemed quite busy. Prices were still high, but the owners had converted their $80 per trowel garden center to more dining tables and were selling garden supplies from a cart in front.

Seemingly patterned after 'granges' in the United Kingdom, Shed sold local produce, locally baked goods, my favorite 'shrubs,' cheeses, cookware, cookbooks and even string, coffee and placemats – sort of a pricey indoor farmers market and food bazaar. Lipton and Daniel hope to sell their building.

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