Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy by Lidia Bastianich is one of my favorite Italian cookbooks, it's organized regionally and she shares a lot of personal stories from her travels in each recipe. The book, Pasta Sfoglia by Ron Suhanosky is full of inspirational Italian pasta dishes (with a big focus on making your own pasta). It's beautifully photographed as well.
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
I was also going to suggest anything by Lidia Bastianich. Also, Lynne Rosetto Kasper's How to Eat Supper is one of my favorite books to give as a gift.
Marcella Hazan's "Essential of Italian Cooking" is easily my favorite Italian Cookbook. It is not fussy and has very well written instructions. The woman who tended my house for years in Milan and who is an excellent cook was always impressed by the book. She said if I could pull it off following this book then it had to be good.
June is a trusted source on General Cooking.
Marcella Hazan's books are authentic, and her recipes work! If you haven't made her lemon roast chicken, you're missing a real treat (not to mention EASY!
How about a subscription to LaCuchina Italiana? Ad says 2 subscriptions for the price of one. Just Google it...
You can't go wrong with Hazan's "Essentials of Italian Cooking." For a more modern (and more advanced) book, I love Marc Vetri's Rustic Italian Food.
Domenica Marchetti's The Glorious Pasta of Italy is lovely.
Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.
While not a cookbook, Oretta Zanini de Vita's Encyclopedia of Pasta is a neat and extremely thorough tour through Italy: different pasta shapes, from which region each hails, everything you'd want to ever know about pasta, and then some. Kinda cool if the person you're gifting enjoys history behind food.
Gino D'acampo's Fantastico -cookbook is funny enough full of quite fantastic dishes. It's full of simple as well as medium hard recipes with wonderful pictures. I'ts the kind of book you don't want to look through when hungry ;)
Margie is a trusted home cook immersed in German foodways.
Any of Lidia Bastianich's books are excellent choices. Nancy Harmon Jenkins has written some good books on Italian and Mediterranean cooking. She also has one on Puglian cooking which I bought several years ago in Puglia. Her recipes not only work, they are delicious. Unfortunately the book is very hard to find, and very expensive now.
All the books above are fantastic. If you want a new addition to the pack - beautiful, inspiring cookbook -POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) [Hardcover] Russell Norman . London restaurant shares it's recipes based on the Venetian tapas style eating. Very approachable recipes and the book itself is a treat to flip through.
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Well played. You deserve a cookie.
There's no intricate lattice-work necessary
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