Whether you're buying gifts for a culinary novice or an expert, an ideal present is as close as the nearest bookstore. The Times' Food staff looked at a sampling of the cookbooks released in time for this holiday season and offers the following reviews to assist last-minute shoppers. Some of these books get down to the basics, some deal with ethnic cuisines while still others are as much a feast for the eyes as for the appetite. These--or the host of other cookbooks you'll find on sale at local stores--will not only delight the recipient but might ensure the giver some memorable repasts during 1988.
The Good Housekeeping All-American Cookbook by the Editors of Good Housekeeping (Hearst Books: $24.95, 400 pp., illustrated)
Illustrated step-by-step recipes and a full-color index of each finished dish highlight this newest release from Good Housekeeping. The special collection of recipes is intended to be a celebration of American's great culinary heritage.
Many of the recipes are classics, taken directly from the pages of Good Housekeeping magazine; others have been newly developed especially for the book. All have been brought up to date and include calorie counts. The color index captions note the recipe's main ingredients, time needed for preparation and number of servings.
These features, as well as over 1,500 illustrations, make this book a good choice for beginning cooks. However, those at all levels of expertise will appreciate the recipes based on ingredients present when the Pilgrims arrived, up through recipes that make use of today's imported ingredients and eating styles.