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For people who devour news of the world's best chefs, restaurants and cuisines, the 2011 cookbook season delivers a jewel box of rare treats.

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Ferran Adria, whose culinary explorations at Spain's El Bulli reverberated through restaurant kitchens around the globe, shares the three-course meals his staff prepared to feed themselves. That's appetizer, main and dessert in two hours or less, and $5 a head. The Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adria ($29.95, 385 pages, Phaidon Press), the odds-on favorite for "most borrowed cookbook," includes a photo for every significant step.

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For the cooking novice who actually tries to follow recipes from food television, what could be better than a huge, wide-ranging collection of recipes from a master chef cooking at home -- backed up with a DVD of nearly 100 essential kitchen skills?

After six decades as chef and three decades translating his cooking to television, Jacques Pepin still has the ability to surprise with economical shortcuts and unpretentious approaches. In Essential Pepin ($40, 685 pages, DVD, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the legendary chef has combined tuned-up old favorites and French classics with his technique tips for a one-volume kitchen education.

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The staff of SeriousEats.com, one of the best online food magazines, offers a paper-and-ink version of its most high-impact insider tips in Serious Eats: A comprehensive guide to making & eating delicious food wherever you are ($27.99, 368 pages, softcover, Clarkson Potter). It is abrim with specific wheres, whats and whys for serious eaters across America, a veritable bullion cube of culinary intelligence. It will tell you where to enjoy the finest Reuben sandwiches in the land, or how to make your own corned beef if you're stranded.

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For a book that will fit right in on the coffee table as well as in the kitchen, consider Mourad: New Moroccan ($40, 390 pages, Artisan). Chef Mourad Lahlou grew up in the medina of Marrakesh, learned Moroccan cooking after beginning his restaurant career, and won fame for blending traditional Moroccan flavors and approaches with modern American ingredients at his San Francisco restaurant. Its vivid photography and detailed culinary recipe-essays -- here's how you make couscous by hand -- make for absorbing reading on the couch as well as the counter.

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For recipes that lower the chances anyone will have to run to the store, the Gooseberry Patch Big Book of Home Cooking ($29.95, 368 pages, Oxmoor House) offers the most trusted favorites from Gooseberry's homespun recipe collection. Its comfort food offerings -- casseroles, quick breads, one-pot meals, simple sautes -- are nonthreatening enough to entice prospective cooks to turn on their stoves.

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For an occasional baker looking for inspiration to tackle new challenges, veteran baking author Lisa Yockelson offers 100 essays on baking inspirations, with accompanying recipes. Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes ($45, 513 pages, Wiley) aims to help bakers develop specialties they love. It's a cookbook for readers and thinkers as well as bakers, though some men might balk at its pink-intensive design.

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So your friend traveled to Lone Star country and fell in love with Tex-Mex, only to return to Western New York and suffer through the inevitable tamale and chicken-fried steak withdrawals. Buy him The Homesick Texan Cookbook ($29.99, 358 pages, Hyperion), in which Lisa Fain shares the Texan-in-Manhattan recipes she has fine-tuned for years at her Homesick Texan blog.

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If you know an Italian food fan who is getting married, give The Silver Spoon ($49.95, 1,504 pages, Phaidon) a glance. It is an updated, translated version of Italy's "bible of authentic Italian" that promises 2,000 recipes, 400 photographs, and a tour of Italian home kitchens through their regional specialties.

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For upscale Italian aspirants, Nancy Silverton's The Mozza Cookbook ($35, 355 pages, Knopf) is one of the better choices. Silverton, known as a bread evangelist, opened one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. With Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreno, she explores the restaurant's appetizers, pizzas, pastas, antipasti, mains and desserts, with "restaurant recipes" that have been adjusted but not dumbed down for the home cook.

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For a cook who's trying to work with seasonally available vegetables and fruit, take a gander at Cook This Now ($29.99, 396 pages, Hyperion). New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark offers 120 recipes arranged by month. Notes, suggestions and elaborations following each recipe make it easier for home cooks to play along by substituting ingredients and planning accompaniments.

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Know a sweet-toothed cook crazy enough to try crafting a dessert inspired by the taste of the milk at the bottom of a bowl of Frosted Flakes? After the no-holds-barred cross-cultural culinary circus of Manhattan's Momofuku, people line up at Momofuku Milk Bar ($35, 256 pages, Clarkson Potter) for dessert. Christina Tosi's creations -- crack pie, blueberry cream cookies, and cereal milk -- have won her acclaim as one of the city's cleverest Pied Pipers of sugar.

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For people who want one cookbook to rely on, consider the newest edition of The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook ($40, 928 pages, America's Test Kitchen). The editors have drawn from 20 years of fantastically detailed testing and retesting to develop recipes accompanied by notes explaining their choices. America's Test Kitchen's books tend to overlap, but this is a fine volume for folks who want to learn as they cook.

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If you know someone who's bummed that food television revolutionary Alton Brown ended "Good Eats," his groundbreaking Food Network show, consider consoling them with Good Eats 3: The Later Years ($42.50, 433 pages, Stewart, Tabori & Chang). This third volume in the series covers Season 10 through its Season 14 finale, with a similar blend of recipes, ruminations behind-the-scenes production details.

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For the person you know who dreams of tasting the flavors of far-off lands, but needs one solid push to get them on a plane, try Bought, Borrowed & Stolen: Recipes & Knives from a Traveling Chef ($24.99, 352 pages, Conran Octopus). English author, chef and restaurateur Allegra McEvedy shares her collection of knives, culinary epiphanies and recipes from years of travels through 18 countries on five continents.

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For the Chinese cuisine devotee intent on adding a resource to exploring regional classics from the ancient cuisine, Ken Hom, chef and cooking show host, has assembled reworked old favorites and new standards in Complete Chinese Cookbook ($35, 352 pages, Firefly Books). Hom's recipes ably balance authenticity against practicality for Western cooks, with Szechuan, Hunan and Cantonese preparations among the mix.

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Fans of food blogs and the infectious enthusiasm of blogger-cooks will savor The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks ($35, 440 pages, William Morrow). Food writers Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs have tapped into the "practical and inventive" energies of home cooks, inviting them to submit recipes at their site, Food52.com. Site staffers test the results, nominates finalists and asks the community to pick the winner. Then everyone can talk about what worked and what didn't, allowing participants to hone their recipes even further.

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Avid cooks who wish Southern cuisine were lighter might get excited for A New Turn in the South ($35, 304 pages, Clarkson Potter), by Hugh Acheson, a noted Georgia-based chef. Acheson posits a "new Southern" style that marries French technique with classic Southern ingredients, like vinaigrette instead of cream gravy, stewed pickled green tomatoes instead of fried.

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For chocolate freaks whose obsession has plateaued for the moment, Adventures with Chocolate (144 pages, $24.95, Kyle) will land them on a slippery slope of 71 percent pure Ecuadorean shade-grown cacao. If they make it through London chocolatier Paul Young's recipes, both classics and envelope-pushing flights of flavor, there's a non-trivial chance you could be thanked in chocolate.

e-mail: agalarneau@buffnews.com