The Babbo Cookbook (Mario Batali)
It's not just italian food: The hottest celebrity chef in America, Batali parties with rock stars, endorses gadgets, and, in his new TV show, wanders Spain with Gwyneth Paltrow. That's not to say he's a bad chef; in fact, he's the rare one who deserves his fame.
Every American home chef should have a basic grounding in Italian cuisine. Along with French cuisine, it's one of the two pillars of modern American food. But the real reason to study Batali is that he's our reigning messiah of gustatory ecstasy, a man who cooks from the gut and lives for the pure joy of food and wine. (And that's the only truly worthwhile reason to bother with any of this.) All of Batali's lunatic energy and wisdom is present in this book – in recipes so lip-smackingly delicious that every person at your table will go home loving you. Heck, you'll even love yourself. Examples: beef cheek ravioli; braised short ribs with horseradish gremolata. [$30; amazon.com]