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Taste of Chicago

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Updated: April 14, 2014 4:47PM

For the ultimate gifts that keeps on giving, we opt for cookbooks and keep our fingers crossed that an invite to dinner isn’t far behind.

Here, we keep it close to home with some of our favorite new local food-centric books:

“The Art of French Pastry,” by Jacquy Pfeiffer (Knopf, $40). As the co-founder of the Loop’s French Pastry School, Pfeiffer knows a thing or two about pastries, as well as tarts, cookies, cream puffs, beignets and plenty of other sweet treats, all of which he shares in this user-friendly book.

“The New Chicago Diner Cookbook,” by Jo A. Kaucher with Kat Berry and the Chicago Diner Crew (Agate Midway, $19.95). What better way for Chicago’s famed vegetarian restaurant to celebrate 30 years in business than with a cookbook featuring 100 meat-free recipes?

“Middlewest,” by David Tamarkin (Middlewest, $20). Not quite a magazine and definitely not a book, this innovative food-centric publication, now in its second edition, features beautifully photographed recipe cards from local favorite chef Jason Vincent of Nightwood.

“Food Lover’s Guide to Chicago, 2 nd ed.,” by Jennifer Olvera (Globe Pequot Press, $16.95). Chicago’s culinary scene is amazing and complex. Lucky for us, local food writer Olvera isn’t afraid to dig deep. She shares her tips on the best ethnic eateries, food festivals, specialty markets and more in her recently revised guide.

“1,000 Food and Art Styling Ideas,” by Ari Bendersky (Quayside Publishing, $35). Chicago food writer Bendersky did his homework for this visually stunning book, which includes images from food photographers, stylists, chefs and bloggers from around the world.

“Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie,” edited by Peggy Wolff (University of Nebraska Press, $19.95). The gustatory pleasure (and peculiarities) of the Midwest come alive in this collection of unique tales from 30 local writers.

“Taste Memories: Recipes for Life and Breakfast,” by Ina Pinkney (self-published, $34). In just a few weeks Pinkney will be closing her eponymous West Loop restaurant after 23 years. But her beloved recipes live on in her recently released cookbook.

“Hot Doug’s: The Book,” by Doug Sohn with Kate DeVivo (Agate Midway, $24.95). Get a peek inside the Hot Doug experience, minus the inevitable line, in this exploration of what has made this small hot dog stand such an internationally celebrated encased meats emporium. Hint: It’s much more than just the hot dogs.

“Hoosier Mama Book of Pie,” by Paula Haney with Allison Scott (Agate Midway, $29.95). Chicago pastry chef Haney takes the mystery out of pie making (no, really) in her debut book, which includes 120 sweet and savory recipes, as well as a step-by-step guide to flaky, golden crusts. Sweet, indeed.

“Soak Your Nuts,” by Karyn Calabrese (Book Publishing Co., $19.95). While the title of this raw and vegan cookbook might seem odd (it refers to the process of soaking nuts for easier digestion), no one can deny that Calabrese, Chicago’s reigning guru of healthy eating who operates a raw cafe and holistic therapy center, looks amazing.

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