Books for Cooks, Holiday Edition

By Diane Rossen Worthington | December 1st, 2023

Recommended food-focused books from a chef and cookbook writer


Book cover of “On the Curry Trail” by Raghavan Iyer, one of the recommendations in Books for Cooks, Holiday Edition

These books for cooks are recommended by an experienced chef and cookbook writer. Diane Rossen Worthington appreciates the diversity of home chefs, with information and recipes on curry, cheese, rice, cocktails, and more.


As holiday gift-giving rolls around, I like to share my picks for books I’ll give to my friends who love to cook. Here are my recommendations:

“On the Curry Trail” by Raghavan Iyer

Workman Publishing Company, 2023

The late Raghavan Iyer was the author of seven cookbooks. His latest book, “On the Curry Trail,” was published just before his death. It is an exploration of how curry traveled throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Europe and Oceania, and the Americas. He explores cuisines that developed from the colonial spice trade, spice wars, the slave trade and local entrepreneurship. The reader will find different countries that have each put their own signature on how spices are used. He explains how curry flavor “seduced the world.” This is the book for your cook that loves a variety of flavors and spices, especially those in curry.

“Madame Fromage’s Adventures in Cheese” by Tenaya Darlington

Workman Publishing Company, 2023

The author guides the reader on how to pair cheese, explores the cheese world and offers up a multitude of recipes. There is a whole chapter on stinky cheeses, for example. How to put together a cheese board, make cheese fondue and shop for cheese are just a few of the tips the reader will enjoy in this book. Cheese lovers will find this book an entertaining and informational addition to their library.

“The Simple Art of Rice: Recipes from Around the World for the Heart of Your Table” by J J Johnson and Danica Novgorodoff

Flatiron Books, 2023

If you’ve ever wondered about the varieties and complexities of rice, you’ll get all the answers in this handsome, informational book. The book includes chapters on mastering the basics of rice, types of rice and a fascinating brief history of rice. Recipes abound from around the world including Fried Rice Four Ways, Seafood Paella, Red Rice and Beans and a favorite dessert of mine, Thai Sticky Rice with Coconut Cream and Mango. Hungry yet? This book is meant for cooks that think rice is a must in most recipes. I already know who I will be gifting this to.

“Scheckeats — Cooking Smarter” by Jeremy Scheck

Harvest, 2023

This the gift for Seriously Simple cooks. The author has gained a large TikTok audience. I love the subtitle of this book: “Friendly Recipes with a Side of Science.” His list of staple Ingredients (which I think of as his pantry) suggests that the reader will be able to cook almost any recipe out of the book. Each recipe includes a chart if it is vegetarian, dairy-free or gluten free, and uses his staple ingredients. These recipes like Kale Salad for Dinner, Apple Pie Oatmeal, Black Bean Burgers or Apricot Glazed chicken are easy enough for a beginner cook and satisfying enough for a seasoned (pardon the pun) home cook.

“Every Cocktail Has A Twist” by Cary Jones and John McCarthy

Countryman Press, 2023

For the cocktail lover and maker on your list, gift them with this creative guide to mastering 25 classic drinks with 200 variations. There is an entire chapter on Aperol Spritzes, including the original recipe and some fun variations. Other drinks with classics and variations include bloody marys, espresso martinis, margaritas, mojitos and sangrias and many more. This would be a wonderful gift along with a cocktail shaker.


Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple: Easy Recipes for Creative Cooks” and “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.

© 2023 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

More cookbook recommendations from Diane Rossen Worthington, including ‘Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch’

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