Edible Holiday Reads

Gifts to Make Anyone Happy: New Books from Local Chefs & Bakers

Searching for a great gift? You can show off local super-star writers and recipe creators with pride this year. (Plus, books are easy to wrap!) These engaging reads will earn a place on any food lover’s shelf. Written by masters of their craft, any of these will make you proud that this talented group calls the DMV home.

The Red Truck Bakery Cookbook by Brian Noyes and Nevin Martell ($25)

This cookbook has been a long time coming for the devoted fans of this popular Virginia bakery loved by locals and the elite (think President Obama and Andrew Zimmern). This gorgeously produced book will make any baker you know happy. Noyes and Martell present 85 recipes that include “secrets of biscuit-making,” sweet and savory pies, cakes, breads and condiments. And President Obama’s favorite sweet potato pecan pie with bourbon. An even better idea? Go to one of Red Truck’s bakeries in Warrenton or Marshall, pick up a signed copy of the book and get some of Noyes’ deservedly famous granola while you’re there.

Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee, $27.50

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A chef who was a literature major (and magna cum laude no less) bring chops to his kitchens in DC (Succotash) and in Louisville and, once again, to the page. This book is a reflection of Chef Eddie’s deep dive into immigrant communities and explores how the inhabitants, some new to the U.S. and others here for decades, cook and use food to tell their stories and remain connected to their home culture. It’s a great romp of a read with humor, poignancy and—for people who love food—a page turner as you find yourself wanting more and thinking about the characters you meet in Houston, Lowell, Montgomery and Brighton Beach. This may not be a cookbook per se, but each chapter ends with recipes that were part of the story he weaves.

Pie Squared, Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pies by Cathy Barrow, $28

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This book by blogger Cathy Barrow (that’s Mrs. Wheelbarrow to you) is a guaranteed gift win for a home cook. How many times do you wonder what to bring to a potluck dinner with family and friends? Wonder no more. Now you will be on your A game, whether you make a dessert or a main course. The fabulous Mrs. Wheelbarrow has you covered with 75 recipes ranging from Spinach, Gorgonzola and Walnut Slab Pie and Curried Chicken Slab Pie to Sour Cream Peach Melba Slab Pie and Grande Mocha Cappuccino Slab Pie. All made in a sheet pan and designed to serve a crowd. Hungry? We thought so. You’ll probably need more than one copy: one for you, one to give. Get in early on the slab pie trend, you’ll be glad you did.

The New Chesapeake Kitchen by John Shields, $26.95

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Like us, you may already be a fan of John Shields, celebrated chef, restaurateur, PBS cooking show talent and all-around nice guy in Baltimore, one of the original champions of Chesapeake Bay regional cuisine. If not, now is the time to pick up his latest book, The New Chesapeake Kitchen, the perfect gift for lovers of all things Chesapeake. John Shields takes a 21st century look at what grows, swims or grazes in the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed, with recipes that take local produce and proteins and instruct how to prepare it all simply and memorably. The approach here is “Bay- and body-friendly food” with a focus on encouraging a plant-forward and sustainable diet, one that takes into account how the food choices you make affect your health and the environment. Find innovative takes on Chesapeake classics, as well as many vegan and vegetarian options: from Aunt Bessie’s Crab Pudding to “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Crab” Cakes—even recipes for a locavore cocktail party. Added plus: It’s gorgeous, with beautiful photography from David W. Harp.