Whether you're preparing to cook or day-dreaming about being fed thoughts inevitably turn to food as the festive season approaches. Which makes cookbooks, with their constant source of inspiration, learning and inspiring visuals, a pretty fail-safe gift whichever way you look at it. Here we've selected something for everyone - from those wanting to throw fancy dinner parties to those looking to replicate the down-to-earth home cooking so fashionable of late. From celebrity chefs to secretive Frenchmen, you'll find a host of savvy gastronomes laying their expertise out on a plate for you this Christmas.
Curry: Classic And Contemporary by Vivek Singh (Absolute Press, £20)
Written by the executive chef at London's Cinnamon Club restaurant and Saturday Kitchen show regular Vivek, Curry is a foray into the world of high-level Indian cuisine. While some critics condemn pigeon-holing food in this way, this combination of lovely recipes puts a good case to the contrary. From the first entry - Baby Aubergines with Sesame and Tamarind Sauce – to the last this is a pleasure, particularly for those who like a little spice.
John Torode's Beef And Other Bovine Matters by John Torode (Quadrille, £20)
A meaty guide to getting the most from beef. The best thing about this book is the handy ideas it gives for things to do with one basic recipe, such as variations on crumbed veal escalopes, for example, or ideas of what to serve with a steak. Mouth-watering photography will leave true carnivores lusting.
Sri Owen's Indonesian Food by Sri Owen (Pavilion, £25)
You feel like you want to eat this from the very first page – sumptuous photography is coupled with divine recipes, anecdotes and origins. A comprehensive guide to Indonesia's relatively low-profile cuisine – which, if the book is anything to go by, is something we should all be cooking. A very honest cookbook and perfect for anyone who loves Thai, Vietnamese and Indian dishes.
Today's Special by Anthony Demetre (Quadrille, £20)
Anthony Demetre is the proprietor chef of London's excellent Michelin-starred restaurants Arbutus and Wild Honey, and his new book encapsulates the brilliance he shows in turning classic bistro fair into fine dining. Good news in these straightened times, Anthony makes the most of cheaper cuts of meat, favouring braising and slow-roasting. While dishes sound complex, they are generally quite straightforward and a perfect fit for the stylish home-cook.
Rick Stein: Coast To Coast by Rick Stein (BBC Books, £20)
A celebration of global cuisine from the fish-master Coast To Coast is a collection of the best recipes from his far-reaching travels. As one would expect fish has a strong presence, although it contains much more than seafood - delicious recipes such as crème brulée ice cream. And throughout Rick's relaxed table-talk style is much in evidence in his anecdotal recipe introductions.
Anjum's New Indian by Anjum Anand (BBC Books, £20)
The accompanying publication to Anjum's excellent TV series, this book is Indian food made easy. It has a wide range of Indian delights from across the continent, with recipes designed for the modern cook and some excellent deserts which go way beyond the ubiquitous kulfi.
Ripailles by Stephane Reynaud (Murdoch Books, £25)
A quirky, delicious journey through French food; from classic bistro fair to simple suppers this is a pleasure from start to finish. Unpretentious, accessible recipes, such as the wonderfully titled 'Turkey stuffed with good things' and 'Profiterole Gateaux', fill this charming work. A restaurant menu serves as the chapter index at the start and its got a lovely padded cover!
Complete Christmas, Food & Flowers by Sarah Raven (Bloomsbury, £25)
A rather lovely combination – great recipes for various Christmas occasions coupled with lovely ways to decorate your house to give it a festive feel. Handily broken down into sections, the book will help you glide through the Christmas period simply, stylishly and merrily full.
The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann (Quadrille, £20)
You could be forgiven for approaching a book about Scandinavian food with a little trepidation, but this will shatter any preconceptions. Beautiful photography is coupled with creative, modern recipes that are fresh and fashionable. As you might expect, dill, pickles, fish and berries feature aplenty – but in inspiring, tasty ways. A pleasant surprise at each turn of the page.
The Big Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury, £100)
Discover the method behind Heston's alternative approach with this opulent celebration of his molecular gastronomy inspired fare. It's unlikely that you'll be using this one on a regular basis, but it's an intriguing insight into the other side of cooking. A coffee table tome rather than a cookery companion perhaps.
The New English Table by Rose Prince (Fourth Estate, £25)
A creative and timely journey through eating without breaking the bank. This charming book explores cheaper cuts of meat and great British fish alongside the regular 'cheap' food items such as mackerel. It's not just about cheap eats, though. It also features loads of wonderful seasonal British fare in recipes stylish enough to serve at a dinner party.