I know I say it every year, but every year it’s true.  The competition in cookbooks gets fiercer and fiercer, and the books get better and better. So it was with a whopping mix of trepidation, affection, and guilt that I made the NPR holiday cookbook roundup selections this month.  (The Weekend Edition Sunday audio link is here.)   The ones I chose are, without exception, remarkable cookbooks.  But this year I wanted to say a word about the rest of the shortlist, too.

Any one of the additional shortlisted books below, which did not make it into this year’s roundup, might have made it into the top 10 a few years ago, and every one of them captured my heart in one way or another.  Many of them were right up there with the finalists in the new rating system.

My hope in including them here is to share the richness and diversity of the cookbook world we live in, to recognize the fantastic contributions of some truly noteworthy authors and cooks, and–of course– to offer you a few more gift ideas.  For more great holiday cookbook ideas, stay tuned for the Boston Globe roundup in a few weeks.

The 2011 NPR top 10:
1.   Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark
2.   The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden
3.   All About Roasting, by Molly Stevens
4.   Food52 Cookbook,  Amanda Hesser/Merrill Stubbs
5.   What Chefs Feed Their Kids, by Fanae Aaron
6.   The Country Cooking of Italy by Colman Andrews
      Lidia’s Italy in America by Lidia Bastianich
7.   The Food of Morocco, by Paula Wolfert
8.   Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman
9.   American Flavor, by Andrew Carmellini
10. The Rosie’s Bakery All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed Baking Book, by Judy Rosenberg

THE SHORTLIST
Outstanding Single-Subject Cookbook
Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal, by Jennifer McLagan

Outstanding Savor-and-Read Cookbook
The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Weekends: New Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio’s Award-Winning Food Show,
 by Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift

Practical Once-a-Week Cookbook
Sunday Roasts: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lambby Betty Rosbottom

Giftworthy-Design Cookbook
One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes, by Tracey Zabar

Ethnic Restaurant Sleeper Hit
Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors,  by Erik Cosselmon and Janet Fletcher with photos by Sara Remington

Best Easy French
The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day, by Wini Moranville 

Hardcore Bread Book
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking
, by the French Culinary Institute

Special-Dieter’s Boon
The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food without Gluten and Lactose, by Barbara Kafka

Innovative Drinks Book
Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: A Cocktail Lover’s Guide to Mixing Drinks Using New and Classic Liqueurs, by A. J. Rathbun 

Accessible Book from a Modernist Citadel
The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria

Loveliest Ode to a Fruit
The Apple Lover’s Cookbookby Amy Traverso

Everyday Food from a Celebrity Hotshot
Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours, by Mario Batali 

Inspiring Trip Down Memory Lane 
Cooking My Way Back Home: Recipes from San Francisco’s Town Hall, Anchor & Hope, and Salt House, by Mitchell Rosenthal 

Irresistible Book for the Crafty Baker
Julia M Usher’s Ultimate Cookies 

Best Chef-at-Home Book
Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes

And no, of course it’s not on the shortlist, but for the very most heartwarming gift you can give readers who love food, don’t forget my own
A Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table!
They’ll laugh, they’ll cry, they’ll probably end up hungry…the perfect gift for all the cooks in your family who don’t need another cookbook or kitchen gadget but could definitely use a good story.

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