What do you buy for the foodie in your life if they already have all the kitchen gadgetry? The answer is a cook book or culinary memoir. Kerstin rounds up the best of this year's offerings.

Notes from a Small Kitchen Island by Debora Robertson (Michael Joseph)

Debora was a successful ghost writer before she emerged under her own name thanks to a popular Telegraph column. Her first cookbook is easy to read with practical recipes developed over years of experience; chapters are titled “How to throw a party without losing your mind” and “How to survive having people to stay”. She's no glamour-puss influencer but a warm and sure presence who knows her stuff.

West Winds: recipes, history and tales from Jamaica by Riaz Phillips (DK)

How refreshing to have a British cook with Jamaican heritage write about Caribbean food culture. Phillips offers typical recipes, but also puts Jamaican food in context: slave food created from “ground provisions” – that is, what slaves could grow on their tiny hard-scrabble allotments to approximate their pre-slavery diet (for instance replacing the African Yam with American sweet potatoes). Classic West Indian fare – hardo bread, rice and peas, jerk chicken and sailfish and ackee – are here, as are ingredients such as plantain, Scotch bonnet, figs (the Caribbean name for bananas), callaloo and Irish moss.

Ghetto Gastro presents Black Power Kitchen by Jon Tray, Pierre Serrao, Lester Walker (Artisan)

Ghetto Gastro is a collective of three male African-American chefs and one female writer Osayi Endolyn. It's less cookery book, more a manifesto. Its authors freely admit it's not even something you read, but designed to be visually inspiring to millennials. Physically large, it is more coffee-table statement than something to use in the kitchen. There is a section on “nutcrackers”: homemade cocktails made by Bronx entrepreneurs who sell them on the street from coolers as Black people can struggle to get liquor licenses. Jerk is explained from a historical and political standpoint: The Jamaican Maroons who escaped the British and fled to the Blue Mountains slow cooked food wrapped in leaves on smokeless fires so masters wouldn't find them.

Although the writing pleads for authenticity reflecting how people really eat, the plating, photography and recipes – for instance, a scoop of coconut ice balanced on a huge rock on top of a coconut shell – seem cheffy and impractical. I appreciated that most of the recipes were vegetarian or vegan, and you can tell it's their first book. It's angry, provocative and interesting and they want to say everything straight away.

Ham & High: Felicity Cloake's previous book was about cycling around France now she peddles around the British Isles in search of breakfastFelicity Cloake's previous book was about cycling around France now she peddles around the British Isles in search of breakfast (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)Red sauce, Brown sauce by Felicity Cloake (Harper Collins)

Guardian stalwart Cloake is one of our finest young food writers. I use her recipes knowing they are generally infallible. This beautifully written and researched book is a follow-up to her French cycling odyssey; 'One more croissant for the road'. This time she cycles around all four UK nations sustained by our most eminent meal – breakfast. The title refers to a geographical divider between north and south: here, we eat ketchup (arguably we are more Americanised); up north, brown sauce.

Cloake provides recipes for both. She visits Exeter to find out about butter, Wales to eat cockles and laverbread, the Baked Bean Museum in someone's living room in Port Talbot, Marmite in the Midlands, soda farls in Belfast, porridge at the world championships in Carrbridge, marmalade in Dundee, Weetabix in Peterborough and jam in Tiptree, Essex.

Nachos for Dinner by Dan Whalen (Workman)

A fun cookbook with ideas for “sheet pan meals”, this would be a great gift for a student or non-cook. I've served nachos (at its most basic: tortilla crisps, melted cheese, salsa) to a rapturous reception from sophisticated foodie friends. Whalen analyses the classic Mexican nacho dish, then spins out the concept: banh-mi nachos, Polish pierogi nachos, lasagn'chos, chicken tikka masala nachos, falafel nachos and even apple pie nachos for dessert.

The Magic of Tinned Fish by Chris McDade (Artisan)

I love a well-stocked larder, of which tinned fish forms an essential part. Here chef McDade promises to elevate your cooking with canned anchovies, sardines, tuna and more. Spanish or Portuguese tinned fish is superior in quality, worth the extra price, and comes in attractive designs. I recently discovered Lidl sells large Ortiz jars of tuna in olive oil for a fiver. I've been known to give a selection of tinned fish to my daughter as a Christmas present.

Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press)

I'm always thrilled when I come across a cookbook with genuinely new ideas. Belfrage trained under Ottolenghi and shares his relaxed approach to food – a series of small plates but with ingredients from Italy, Brazil and Mexico. She'll throw salads together with crumpet croutons, tahini ginger sauce, chillis and tomatoes; make cornbread with brown butter and curry; cook thin omelettes rolled and chopped into “noodles”. Her food is messy, creative and colourful.

Ham & High: Morgan McGlyn of the Muswell Hill Cheese ShopMorgan McGlyn of the Muswell Hill Cheese Shop (Image: Archant)The Modern Cheeseboard by Morgan McGlynn (White Lion Publishing)

This is not so much a cookbook but a pairing manual: how to present a fantastic and original cheeseboard. Morgan is a north London local with a cheese shop in Muswell Hill - a frequent guest on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch. She explains how to store, cut and serve cheese from a classic cheeseboard to more unusual combinations such as pairing with edible flowers, chocolate (go blue) or whisky.
Ham & High: 13 Foods That Shape Our World by Alex Renton13 Foods That Shape Our World by Alex Renton (Image: Courtesy of the publisher)
13 foods that shape our world by Alex Renton (BBC)

Alex Renton, who wrote about his slave-owning ancestors in the Caribbean in the searingly honest 'Blood Legacy', now authors the first official book of BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme. Each chapter delves into 13 staple foods including oil, cocoa, bread, soy, sugar, rice, salt and tomatoes, all part of the global diet. Informative about the history, botanics and politics of our diet, this book is entertainingly written – not dry at all.

Ham & High: Yotam Ottolenghi whose latest book Test Kitchen is out nowYotam Ottolenghi whose latest book Test Kitchen is out now (Image: Archant)Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things (Ebury)

This is the second book in the OTK series. The first; 'Shelf', was a lockdown paen to the pantry, whereas Extra Good Things is less focussed, exploring the flavour bombs that lift a recipe. It's about how to 'Ottolenghify' a dish; that is, to celebrate vegetables, add a twist, give extra acidity or crunch or something pickled as a counterpoint with herbs, spice or condiments. There are recipes for tonnato sauce but this time on veg rather than veal, plus how to make homemade rose harissa, or feta cream, or caramel and clementine dressing. There are a zillion ideas to inspire the keen cook.