Help in the kitchen
Five recipes from five chefs
By Stephanie Snipes
(CNN) -- If the words aioli, confit, ganache, béchamel and profiteroles make your blood run cold, your heart beat fast and sweat drip from your temples, you may be afraid of ... the kitchen.
And this is not a good time of year to be afraid of the kitchen.
But don't throw in the towel and head for the can opener and the instant meal. With the right recipe you can demystify food and create a work of art that will delight and amaze your loved ones.
Highlighted below are cookbooks that take the fear out of the feast.
"From Emeril's Kitchens: Favorite Recipes from Emeril's Restaurants" by Emeril Lagasse (Morrow)
Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse highlights the best of his restaurants in "From Emeril's Kitchen." As with many of his other books (this is his eighth), Lagasse starts with the "Basics" such as "Clarified Butter" and "Flaky Butter Crust," before moving into main events like "Seared Beef Tournedos."
Black-and-white photos of his staff are peppered throughout the book -- as well as color images of selected recipes.
Recipes include "Savory Leek and Proscuitto Tart," "Strawberries Romanoff with Mint Syrup," and "Root Beer-Glazed Pork Chops."
(Try a recipe: Root Beer-Glazed Pork Chops with Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions)
"The Cook's Canon: 101 Classic Recipes Everyone Should Know" by Raymond Sokolov (HarperCollins)
In "The Cook's Canon," Raymond Sokolov gathers a collection of recipes he feels are crucial to every cook's repertoire. Included in this list are such basics as bread and pizza to the more renowned "Oysters Rockefeller" and "Profiteroles au Chocolat."
Sokolov, the former restaurant critic and food editor of The New York Times, displays the recipes in a straightforward manner with bits of history and trivia mixed in.
Other recipes include "Baked Alaska," "Buerre Blanc," and "Coq au Vin."
(Try a recipe: Baked Alaska)
"Shakespeare's Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook" by Francine Segan (Random House)
In "Shakespeare's Kitchen," author Francine Segan updates 400-year-old recipes for modern times. Each chapter includes historic facts, tips on entertaining and some original recipes before they were re-written for today's chef.
In her research Segan said the most shocking thing to find was two chapters on salads. "If I wasn't holding the actual cookbook in my hands I wouldn't have believed it," says Segan.
Recipes include "Herb Tart," "Prawns in Citrus Cream" and "Salmon with Violets."
(Try a recipe: Salmon with Violets)
"Claud Mann's Dinner & a Movie Cookbook" by Claud Mann (Andrews McMeel)
Chef Claud Mann's movie themed recipes, created for TBS' "Dinner & a Movie," put a twist on everyday recipes. (TBS is a division of Time Warner, as is CNN.) His new cookbook, "Claud Mann's Dinner & a Movie Cookbook," includes movie trivia, a glossary of cooking terms and "Claud's 10 Kitchen Commandments," which includes "Never clean up if you can help it ... hey, you did the cooking!"
Movies highlighted include "Scrooged" with "The Ghost of Christmas Past-a," and "Moonstruck," with "When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Cheese Pizza Pie."
Mann, who creates the recipes with the help of his wife and daughter, believes that getting families back in the kitchen is important.
"People are still not eating at home, they are not eating with each other ... turn off 'Dinner & a Movie,' turn off CNN and sit and talk with each other, and eat and cook together," says Mann.
(Try a recipe: Two Hot Peppers on the Lamb, re: "Thelma and Louise")
"Bitter Sweet: Recipes and Tales From a Life in Chocolate" by Alice Medrich
Alice Medrich, winner of a prestigious by James Beard award for her gastronomic achievements, looks at chocolate in its finest forms in "Bitter Sweet." From truffles to soufflés, Medrich simplifies the art of dessert making by presenting recipes in easy to read steps.
"One of the main reasons for this book is to encourage people to stop thinking of chocolate as just a generic flavor. None of us who love coffee just go and buy a tin of vacuum-packed coffee anymore," says Medrich.
"Bitter Sweet" is filled with color photographs and recipes that include "Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake," "Warm Bittersweet Mousse," and "Molten Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes."
(Try a recipe: Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake)