There really is no better season for breaking out all the good ingredients. Except, who knew vanilla beans were so friggin’ expensive?! Damn. Well, that aside, here are a few choice cookbooks if you are on the hunt for new recipes to ooh and aah your entertainees with. May we suggest: Jamie Oliver’s Superb Squash Soup with the best Parmesan Croutons.


The Art & Soul of Baking

by Sur La Table with Cindy Mushet
BOOK
Andrews McMeel Publishing / $40
In shops now

The publisher of this book send a sneak peek out to the press a few months back which included a recipe for making your own croissants. Not that we had ever even considered making our own croissants, but now it’s on the list of things we will probably do to distract ourselves in the new year. The Sur La Table recipes that fill the pages of this book are very often the basics of baking with their own little twists. There’s Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake and Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Peanut Caramel. In other words, shut yo’ mouth and make sure you have enough flour and sugar and butter in the house, and get crackin’ people!

The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread

by Maria Balinska
BOOK
Yale University Press / $24
In shops now

Ever since JP moved to LA, he is regularly peeved at the lack of attention to the bagel in Southern California. In New York, the bagel is respected, admired and consumed with much regularity. So perhaps the fine people of Los Angeles with their dry bagels and plastic bagel slicers and individually-wrapped pads of butter should brush up on their history. Maria Balinska is an editor in the World Current Affairs department at BBC Radio, and dug through international archives and conducted personal interviews to get to the bottom of her bagel history. Dating back to Turkish defeat by the Polish King Jan Sobieski in 1683, the bagel has seen a lot…a Yiddish cultural revival, the trek to the new world and then down to NYC’s Lower East Side. Perhaps now, the Los Angelinos will learn to appreciate and respect this fine bread.

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

by Heston Blumenthal
BOOK
Bloomsbury / $250.
In shops now

We weren’t cool enough to get a copy of the actual book, but we’re sure it’s pretty swell. There’s drawings, multiple ribbons, silvered edges and a great slipcase. Plus, it’s basically an autobiography of Heston Blumenthal and a history of The Fat Duck. And 50 signature gastronomic recipes for you to screw up in the privacy of your own home. At this price though, someone really has to love you to spend the dough and then wrap up this ginormous book and slap your name on the card.

A Day at elBulli

An insight into the ideas, methods and creativity of Ferran Adrià
BOOK
Phaidon / $49.95
In shops now

Please note, this huge tome is not a cookbook. Well, not really. The spread of 800 photos in the pages of “A Day at elBulli” chronicle a day in the life of this celebrated Spanish restaurant of summer. With thousands of folks making their reservations more than a year out, it’s hard to get a table. Even if you do, the 30-course tasting menu is not for the Arby’s crowd. Dinner will set you back €200, and that doesn’t include the sauce. So, for those of us who travel (and, let’s face it, sometimes eat) by book rather than by plane, this is a mesmerizing account of a meal that is hopefully in our future. For more on the restaurant, check out their site (http://www.elbulli.com/) and make your 2009/2010 reservations! Or at the very least, watch Anthony Bourdain have a taste with Adrià in the kitchen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg9h5S1VW3w).


Giada’s Kitchen

by Giada de Laurentiis
BOOK
Clarkson Potter / $32.50

Here comes the companion book to Giada’s newest season of nouveau Italian cooking. Aside from the fact that we love her pots, knives and presentation, Ms. Laurentiis is always cooking up delicious treats which are not hard to make when left to your own devices. This volume includes tastiness like hearty tomato soup with lemon and rosemary, pomegranate and cranberry bellinis, penne with shrimp and herbed cream sauce and orange and chocolate zeppoli. There’s also a section for kids and some sample menus if you’re really feeling lazy. It’s good stuff, people.

Jamie at Home

by Jamie Oliver
BOOK
Hyperion / $37.50
In shops now

If you have been following Mr. Oliver on the Food Network this season, you’ve seen the rustic autumnal fare he’s been preparing. The recipes in the book and series were inspired by his vegetable patch. So as winter settles in, this is a great place to turn for soups and hearty meals on a cold night. The one which caught our eye straightaway was the Pumpkin Soup with Parmesan Croutons. Have a look at the recipe and you should see why you need to have this cookbook on-hand when you light up the fire.