MODESTO -- Nothing can top a beautiful cookbook, and there are plenty of new ones to check out. And most likely there will be a recipe in one that's so good, it'll be worth the price of the book. Here's a look:
Matt and Ted Lee give a guided tour of Charleston's food scene through stories, 100 recipes, 75 color photographs and maps.
While it's easy to get swept away to South Carolina in "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen" (Clarkson Potter, $34), it's just as easy to bring the Lee brothers into your kitchen. Their stories of foraging and making loquat liqueur or infusing gin with kumquats are sure to inspire.
Virtually every type of pie is included in "Pies: Sweet and Savory" (DK Publishing, $25).
Recipes are organized by key ingredients, such as chicken, spinach, or apple. A full chapter with illustrated instructions is devoted to making pie dough. Other chapters focus on meat, poultry, fish, vegetarian, fruit and chocolate pies.
Vegetarian cooking gets the Martha Stewart treatment in "Meatless: More Than 100 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes" (Clarkson Potter, $25). A range of recipes, each accompanied by a color photograph, makes for abundant ideas. There are burgers, pizzas, grain salads, currys and other full-flavored dishes to tempt even the diehard meat eater.
Fresh produce and ingredients from ethnic markets and specialty shops are brought together in "Kitchen & Co.: Colorful Home Cooking Through the Seasons" (Kyle Books, $22.95). Rosie French and Ellie Grace serve up 100 recipes from Salad Club, which was named best blog by the London Observer Food Monthly and led to their opening of a supper club and in 2011 a restaurant.
"Gran's Kitchen" is the type of ode we'd pay to our grandma if we were writing a cookbook. Natalie Oldfield takes the tattered, stained, creased and much-loved recipes from Dulcie May Booker and pays tribute to them in a book overflowing with colorful photographs of food and family. There are quick fries, sweets, savory pies, pasties, quick breads and more.
Instructions are simple and straightforward, the ingredient are in weights and not measures (grams and ounces versus cups). The variety and simplicity of the recipes would make this a perfect gift for a mom who wants to share with a young daughter the joys of baking and cooking. It's $29.95 from Hardie Grant Books.
"Southern Living Feel Good Food: Simple and Satisfying Recipes With a Fresh Twist" is packed with 150 updates of dishes that folks remember their grandmother making.
There are "gracious" recipes for entertaining, "indulgent" desserts, "celebratory" dishes for special occasions, and more. The recipes are from Southern Living magazine so you know they'll stand the test of time. The book is $24.95 from Oxmoor House.