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The Best Lessons From 40 Holiday Cookbooks

Tips from the experts to get you through the season.
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This season’s list of exceptional cookbooks is long and varied. Here are cooking tips from 40 of them to help you find the perfect present.

  • Scramble eggs in a double boiler to keep them moist.

Inside the Test Kitchen, Tyler Florence

  • To add flavor and texture to salad dressings, puree with spiced walnuts.
  • Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook, Harold Dieterle and Andrew Friedman

  • Use leftover deviled egg filling to thicken vinaigrette.
  • Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton

  • Spoon the firm layer of coconut cream off the top of a can of chilled unsweetened coconut milk—it can be whipped and used just like heavy cream.
  • The Kitchn Cookbook, Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand

  • For a creamier guacamole, stir in some olive oil.
  • Sunday Suppers, Karen Mordechai

  • For perfectly chewy pasta, make sure your water is warm and knead the dough for a long time, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • America Farm to Table, Mario Batali and Jim Webster

  • When cooking lobster, keep the heads. Crush them, then steep in melted butter for 5 minutes. Cool the lobster butter until firm, then save to serve on pasta or roast fish.
  • The Kitchen Ecosystem, Eugenia Bone

  • Soak brown rice for 30 minutes before cooking for fluffier grains.
  • My Perfect Pantry, Geoffrey Aakarian

  • Whenever a baking recipe calls for brushing on an egg wash, you can always substitute heavy cream; the result will just be slightly less glossy.
  • Huckleberry, Zoe Nathan

  • Refrigerate okra slices before frying to decrease sliminess.
  • Brown Sugar Kitchen, Tanya Holland

  • Instead of taking the time to mince garlic, add a whole clove to oil in a cool pan, then gently heat for a few minutes: As the pan warms, the clove will gently infuse the oil with flavor.
  • A Good Food Day, Marco Canora

  • For the most tender, most flavorful leeks, sweat them: Cook covered with parchment paper and a lid.
  • Eat, Nigel Slater

  • Add a drop of vinegar to the dough for pie crust to make it flakier.
  • Make it Ahead, Ina Garten

  • Use a silicone spatula to stir risotto—it’s gentler on the rice than a metal or wooden spoon.
  • The Tucci Table, Stanley Tucci

  • When roasting, add a little oil to baking sheets or roasting pans and put them in the oven while it heats. When you add your ingredients, they will immediately sear.
  • How to Cook Everything Fast, Mark Bittman

  • For salad, count on 1 tablespoon of dressing per serving.
  • Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen, Dana Cowin

  • Soungouff ou crevettes is a Central African powder made of shrimp shells and chile sold at African markets. Buy some and use it like salt.
  • Marcus Off Duty, Marcus Samuelsson

  • To keep hollandaise (or any butter-enriched pan sauce) warm without worrying about it breaking, pour it into a Thermos.
  • Jamie’s Comfort Food, Jamie Oliver

  • Soak grits for at least 6 hours before using them—it allows them to cook faster and preserves the corn flavor.
  • Heritage, Sean Brock

  • To add just a hint of garlic, rub a halved clove over a baking dish before cooking or a salad bowl before serving.
  • A Kitchen in France, Mimi Thorisson

  • To remove raw marrow, soak bones in saltwater for at least 12 hours in the fridge. The marrow will easily pop out.
  • North, Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Jody Eddy

  • For healthier pad Thai, swap rice noodles for julienned daikon, carrot or zucchini.
  • Green Kitchen Travels, David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl

  • Burger buns get crunchy on the outside but stay soft in the middle if you toast them before splitting.
  • Meat, Pat LaFrieda

  • Use a slurry of equal parts water and unsweetened cocoa powder to thicken sauces for game meats.
  • Bitter, Jennifer McLagan

  • Swirl melted butter into heated lime juice for an all-purpose basting liquid.
  • Ruhlman’s How to Roast, Michael Ruhlman

  • The smaller the artichoke, the more tender it is.
  • The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, Karen Page

  • Don’t buy curry oil; make it. Heat 1/4 cup Madras curry powder in 1 cup olive oil on low for 20 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter.
  • A New Napa Cuisine, Christopher Kostow

  • The perfect pot of pasta water: 4 quarts of water, 1/4 cup of kosher salt and a handful of semolina flour.
  • Flour + Water, Thomas McNaughton

  • Add smoky flavor to salsa by blistering tomatoes under the broiler for about 8 minutes before chopping.
  • Richard Sandoval’s New Latin Flavors; Richard Sandoval

  • For a smoother hummus, warm canned chickpeas before pureeing them.
  • Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul, Aarti Sequeira

  • Sauté rice in olive oil for a few minutes to add warm,toasty flavor to any dish.
  • My Portugal, George Mendes

  • Spread the rice paper with mayonnaise when making spring rolls—the mayo adds subtle richness.
  • The Slanted Door, Charles Phan

  • For crisper roasted potatoes, brine them overnight to remove some of the starch.
  • Relae, Christian F. Puglisi

  • In a soufflé, combine aged and young versions of the same cheese for depth of flavor.
  • French Roots, Jean-Pierre Moullé and Denise Lurton Moullé

  • To make a salad visually striking, go against instinct and use ingredients that are all the same color, like apple and raw celery root.
  • Plenty More, Yotam Ottolenghi

  • To keep a stack of tortillas warm, wrap them in a kitchen towel, then in foil, and put them in a 200° oven for up to an hour.
  • Tacolicious, Sara Deseran

  • Use Jonah crab, an Atlantic species similar to Dungeness, for crab cakes.
  • The New England Kitchen, Jeremy Sewall and Erin Byers Murray

  • For pork broth, simmer a whole suckling pig head for 6 hours.
  • Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef, Massimo Bottura

  • Char fresh herb bundles on a grill, chop them and mix with olive oil and vinegar for a salsa.
  • Mallmann on Fire, Francis Mallmann

  • Don’t toss Parmesan rinds; grate them. The flavor is extra-concentrated.
  • Fabio’s American Home Kitchen
    , Fabio Wiviani

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