What a great idea for a cookbook! A 3-star Michelin chef—David Kinch—provides delicious insider recipes from his own personal repertoire. Kinch, along with co-author Devin Fuller have crafted a must-have collection of uncomplicated recipes that the world-renowned chef likes to cook for himself and friends when he’s off-duty. Filled with smooth ideas and piquant ingredients, At Home in the Kitchen is a user-friendly gathering of easygoing dishes from Kinch’s California basecamp. The writing is as welcoming as the chef himself, a man who likes to experiment without taking himself too seriously. The subtitle says it all: Simples Recipes from a Chef’s Night Off. Sauces, small plates, relishes, salads—all shown in mouth-watering photographs, and explained so that non-Michelin cooks can follow along. Roast fig and pancetta salad with goat cheese, bucatini with canned sardines and capers, duck breast with braised red cabbage, California crab roll—it all sounds like something you’d want to cook and love to eat. Well within the grasp of any inquiring home cook. Plus recipes for Negroni—three ways—among other cocktail ideas. Available at Bookshop Santa Cruz (as are the other book ideas below). $30.
MORE BOOK IDEAS
For foodies who moonlight as chemistry nerds, there’s the incredibly fascinating Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. This major bestseller explains in detail how flavor emerges from combinations of ingredients, and why the application of various seasonings can transform simple elements into outrageous dishes. Essentially this appealing cooking text will help cooks understand how to create their own specialties without slavish devotion to recipes. Cooking without a net. With playful illustrations by Bay Area artist Wendy MacNaughton. $16.
For those not content merely to ferment cabbage and cucumbers, there’s Wild Fermentation by Sandow Ellix Katz. This live-culture food manifesto will walk you through the making of kombucha, kimchi, miso, pickles, gundruk, sauerkraut, paneer, kvass, yogurt—you get the picture. Turn your kitchen into a healthy lab with this inspiring compendium of fermented foods. $25.
Ottolengthi Test Kitchen is one of the hot cookbooks of the moment, thanks to the bold flavors and charismatic approach to Middle Eastern ideas translated into unforgettable meals. Recipes that do not require an engineering degree. Flexible guidelines, ingredient indexes and photos to have you drooling. $25.
HANDS ON, GO OUT
Across the street from Bookshop, the Toque Blanche (former Chef Works) stocks gorgeous kitchen equipment. Wüsthof knives, Le Creuset dutch ovens, sexy waffle irons, rice cookers, blenders, toasters and all the designer kitchen utensils you (and the cuisinartist on your gift list) crave. Gifts galore for the cook in your house. 1527 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz.
Barceloneta Restaurant has a clever stocking stuffer: e-gift cards, available online at their website—or bright magenta, non-expiring, wallet sized hard copy gift cards, available at the restaurant. In any amount starting from $50. A delicious gift idea. Every restaurant you love offers gift certificates; there’s no one who doesn’t welcome the gift of dinner for two. And no restaurant that doesn’t need the support!
WINE CHRISTMASThe wines you love, from local winemakers, make a welcome gift for those you care about. Head over to Ser Tasting Room in Aptos Village, take a spin out to Corralitos to Alfaro Family Vineyards, drop into Birichino, peruse the selections at Soif Wine Merchants, or simply park yourself in front of the well-curated shelves of Shoppers Corner and choose something that pushes your budget slightly into the “special zone.” You might even be invited to share the holiday cheer with your friends. Salut!