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.
White Chocolate by Janice Wald Henderson (Contemporary Books: $16.95, 222 pages.)
Hail to this much-awaited book, which celebrates the debut of the "unchocolate": white chocolate.
"White chocolate is by no means a pale imitation of the real thing," writes author Janice Wald Henderson, West Coast editor of Chocolatier magazine. "White chocolate had much in common with Rodney Dangerfield--it has received little respect. That is, until now."
Exploring the virtues of this current sweet obsession, the author has collected recipes from chefs all over the country. A few delectable examples are: white chocolate mousse in gingersnap tulips, from David M. Rexford, Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.; white chocolate pecan pie, from Laura Davidian, chef of Georgie's Bar and Grill in Encino; black mission fig ravioli with white chocolate sauce from Peter Rosenberg, executive chef of the Hotel Bel-Air, and white chocolate madeleines from noted culinary consultant Marion Cunningham.