Thursday, December 25, 2014

"The Christmas Cook's Shelf"--delicious books for holiday entertaining--tempting treats--lots of good eats!

 Classic Christmas Recipes from Saint Nicholas Himself  

Author Jeff Guinn's charming "Christmas Chronicles" series continues with "Santa's North Pole Cookbook: Classic Christmas Recipes from Saint Nicholas Himself".  Truly a "man of the world", Santa offers recipes from every corner of the earth, and he also illuminates his readers on holiday customs from cultures that span the globe. Santa shares his personal philosophy that there are four essential elements required to create the timeless magic of the holiday season: worship, family, friends, and food. While some of the recipes are fairly simple, and use easily-obtained ingredients, others are more complex and regionally specific. Here are some of the recipes Santa has collected in his travels: "Pecan Waffles from Sweden"; "Atilla's Stuffed Mushrooms from Germany"; "Flaming Gingered Prawns from Australia"; "Leonardo's Pasta Fra Diavolo from Italy"; "Theodore Roosevelt's Pan-Fried Christmas Potatoes from the USA"; "Christmas Mulled Wine from Finland"; "Holiday Black Walnut Cake from Germany"; and "Cinnamon-Sugar Sticks from Mexico". The official chef of the North Pole, Lars, created these recipes for Santa & Co: "Santa's Breakfast Souffle"; "North Pole Bread Dressing"; "Lars' Savory Poached Salmon"; "Holiday Plum Pie Cookies"; and "Candy Cane Creme Brulee". No wonder Santa is a "right jolly old elf"! Other books in Jeff Guinn's "Christmas Chronicles" series include: "The Autobiography of Santa Claus"; "How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas"; and "The Great Santa Search". 

Review Copy Gratis Tarcher Books

  200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More  

If cookies were wishes, then "Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More" would make all your dreams come true! This book is loaded with luscious recipes, packed with pictures, and chock-full of helpful hints and cooking tips. With chapters like "Classic Cookies & Confections"; "Bars, Brownies & Bites"; "Fruit & Nut Cookies"; "Biscotti & Shortbread"; "Spirited & Spiced Cookies"; and "Sweet & Savory Sandwiches", you will find cookies just right for the holidays and all through the year. Here are some of the tempting recipes perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth: "Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies"; "Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars"; "Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars"; "Maple-Walnut Butter Cookies"; "Hazelnut Toffee Squares"; "Triple-Orange Pecan Biscotti"; "Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Cookies"; "Cardamom-Honey Cut-Outs"; and "Ginger-Spice Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream". Are those the sounds of cookie sheets rattling in the kitchen? "Fine Cooking Cookies" offers 200 wonderful ways to treat your family, your friends, and yourself! Don't forget Santa's cookie plate!

Review Copy Gratis Taunton Press     

The Dead Celebrity Christmas Cookbook by Frank DeCaro  

Author Frank DeCaro has another winner with "The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: Christmas in Tinseltown"! This book is a fantastic follow-up to the fabulous original "The Dead Celebrity Cookbook". Hollywood holiday traditions and recipes are served up in sensational style and given extra luster with the addition of great photos of favorite stars. The sweet and snappy "Christmas Tidbits" that accompany the celebrity bios and recipes are perfect appetizers for the feast to follow. I am a true foodie and film fan--a devoted aficionado of the entertainment world. I learned to cook from my wonderful Gran, who also loved movies and movie stars. Frank DeCaro brings back many wonderful memories and offers new insights to the lives of stars and star-makers of the screen and stage. "Christmas in Tinseltown" features recipes for the holiday season and all year around. All of the celebrities who are featured have a special connection to the holidays. Frank DeCaro's funny, friendly narrative writing style adds a warmly witty tone to the book, and the recipes run the gamut from simple to superb. The chapters are divided into courses, and the titles are quite punny: "It's a Wonderful Lunch"; "Miracle Whip on 34th Street", "Munch of the Wooden Soldiers", and "What a Fruitcake", just to name a few. Here are some recipes that really caught my eye: "James Stewart's Spareribs with Barbeque Sauce"; "Jimmy Durante's German Cole Slaw"; "Red Skelton's Ham Hock and Lima Beans"; "Natalie Wood's Beef Stroganoff"; "Dinah Shore's Fruitcake"; "William Frawley's Mulligan Stew"; and "Oliver Hardy's Baked Apples with Honey and Almonds". Just like the original "The Dead Celebrity Cookbook", "Christmas in Tinseltown" is delicious from appetizer through to after-dinner drink. If you are a "food and film fan", and so are your friends and family, then you will want to collect these books and also gift them to others. 

Review Copy Gratis HCI Books   

 Food Family Friends Festivities  

"Nigella Christmas" is such a gorgeous book. It truly is one of those cookbooks that looks good enough to eat! The introduction is interesting, informative, and unexpected--combining ancient holiday customs with modern awareness and sensibility. Being a watcher of TV's "Nigella Feasts", I am familiar with the author's speaking voice and persona. I could distinctly "hear" her speaking the introduction while I read it, and that made the words even more enjoyable. Nigella Lawson's food is sumptuous, even voluptuous, but still "do-able". She never skimps on anything, but nothing is ever elaborate or overly-complex. Simply superb! The very first recipe in the book is a cocktail called "Poinsettia"--pretty, pleasing, and potent. Only three ingredients: Prosecco, Grand Marnier, and cranberry juice. Now, that's the spirit! The appetizers run the gamut from savory to sweet. Another simple recipe with only three ingredients: "Party Parma Ham Bundles"--prosciutto is wrapped around bite-sized morsels of goat's cheese and figs. Imagine that trio of flavors in each nibble! Nigella states that while she "can't fashion wreaths or fold napkins", she does have a knack for making relishes and chutneys. How lovely to make a midnight kitchen raid, snag the last homemade roll with a slice of ham or turkey and top it with a dollop of relish or chutney! The "Three Seasonal Salads" with their unique and colorful uses of ravishing red fruits and vegetables make you want to take your fork to the page. Special mention must be made of the cakes. Definitely cakes to give to "the person who has everything". Give them one of these cakes, and they could ask for nothing more. There are many, many more wonderful recipes including main dishes, sides, sweets, and treats that are too tempting to limit just to the holidays. Throughout all, there is a true sense of the author's own belief that festive indulgence is not a bad thing, but a celebration of being alive and an affirmation of what is important in life. A belief in hearth and home and adhering to ritual and tradition when the world around us is so unsettling and uncertain. As Nigella says: "The Christmas rituals of the home are, even if not based around faith, essentially an act of good faith." A well-said and well-represented sentiment presented in a gorgeous gift of a book. 

Review Copy Gratis Hyperion Books

  Down-Home Meals for Every Occasion  

In "The Neelys' Celebration Cookbook", you'll find a world of ways to create a reason to celebrate. Not satisfied with just the traditional holidays, the Neelys and their two daughters also chow down and party in honor of "March Madness", "Spring Cleaning", "Girl's Night", "Sweet Tea and Sympathy", "Harvest Party", and others. The food is fabulous, the fun is contagious, and the spirit of "joie de vivre" is charmingly motivational. The personal insights and stories are as appealing as the delicious recipes. There is real warmth here, and it comes from more than just the Neelys' bodacious BBQ sauce! There's even a recipe for "Love Potion #9"! Who could resist such tempting treats: "Bourbon Bread Pudding", "Country-Fried Jalapeno Poppers", "Devils on Horseback", "Banana Cake with Coconut Frosting", "Grilled Shrimp & Pineapple Skewers", "Prime Rib with Ruby Port Sauce", "Hearty Winter Greens Saute", and "Mama's Day Off Cocktail". As the Neelys say: "Make sure that everyone who enters your home as a guest leaves as a friend." Well said, and well done! 

Review Copy Gratis Borzoi Books    

 Favorite Recipes and Holiday Traditions from My Home to Yours  

Debbie Macomber is truly in her element when it comes to all things Christmas! Her beautiful  "Debbie Macomber's Christmas Cookbook" is exquisitely evocative of favorite family memories and freshly appealing "traditions in the making". Much more than a holiday cookbook, it also offers decorating, craft, and gift ideas that are both simple and sensational. The recipes are mouth-watering, each one with that touch of something extra that you look for when preparing holiday foods. To please the palate: "Tropical Paradise Muffins"; "Overnight Sausage & Caramelized Onion Casserole"; "Cider-Glazed Roast Turkey"; "Three-Cheese Scalloped Potatoes"; "Roast Pork Tenderloin with Dijon-Molasses Glaze"; and "Winter Tomato Pie". The recipe showstopper for me was "White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake"--I love peppermint for the holidays! Decorate a big, beautiful gift basket for someone special and first put in a copy of this book. Surround the book with little tubs of "Soothing Scented Lip Balm, tuck in some "Bubbling Bath Cubes" and "Pinecone Fire Starters". Add in a jar of "Many Bean Soup Mix", some "Do It Yourself Spice Blend" packets, and a tin of "Homemade Chai Tea Mix". Most important of all, don't forget the cookies. Lots of little holiday gift bags of wonderful, wonderful cookies. The final touch: A handmade holiday card for an extra-special seasonal sentiment. I think I just figured out what Santa is bringing me this year!

Review Copy Gratis Nancy Berland Public Relations 

  Mouthwatering, Time-Honored, Tried-And-True, Handed-Down, Soul-Satisfying Dishes  

If you are searching for a book to give a novice cook, or for a new addition to a seasoned cook's collection, "500 Treasured Country Recipes" will delight them both! While the book is written in a warm, down-to-earth style that feels like home, it is much, much more than a "country" cookbook. It is really a hefty, charmingly illustrated, all-inclusive volume of cookery, crafts, housekeeping, gardening, and useful advice. Written by Martha Storey and friends (an impressive roster of talent featured as contributors at the book's end), this expansive resource of recipes and more offers tempting treats to please every palate. On the savory side, you'll find dishes like "Zucchini with Mozzarella and Parmesan", which begins with bacon, onions and garlic sizzling in the skillet. "Southwestern Cranberry Sauce" blends the flavors of fresh cranberries and jalapeno peppers, and refines them with sugar and seasonings. "Onion & Mushroom Gravy" made with rich pan drippings, onions, mushrooms and seasoned stock may cause you to forgo a formal meal and stand at the stove dipping chunks of bread into the gravy pan. The desserts are delicious, decadent, and downright divine. Try to resist "Soul Satisfying Rice Pudding", "Baked Bananas in Maple Rum Sauce", or "Blueberries Romanoff". I won't even try to resist--I surrender! You'll also find detailed, illustrated instructions for making butter, cheese, beer, wine, and even soda pop. If you're a crafter, you'll really enjoy the sections featuring handcrafts, holidays, and homemade gifts. I don't have enough words or review space to detail all that this wonderful book has to offer. I will just say that it is indeed a "treasure", and you will reach for it time and time again. 

Review Copy Gratis Storey Publishing  

 Irresistible Excuses to Indulge  

Chocolate is not just a food--it is a world unto itself! As if I needed an excuse, "Absolutely Chocolate: Irresistible Excuses to Indulge" from the Editors of Fine Cooking offers pure pleasure from page to page. Don't eat the book! Read, learn, give in to temptation, explore, experiment, and let chocolate do its magic and release those good brain chemicals! The process of how chocolate is made--from birth to bar, the types of chocolates and their uses, cocoa versus hard chocolate, cocoa content, and the proper techniques for cooking with various chocolates are all invaluable facts for serious chocoholics. All of those things get you ready to dive into the more than 125 chocolicious recipes! Reward yourself, and those you love, with terrific temptations like: "Mocha-Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies"; "Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars"; "Brown Butter Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips"; "Chocolate-Espresso Pecan Pie"; "Bourbon-Chocolate Mousse"; "Chocolate Pavlova with Tangerine Cream"; "Triple-Chocolate Ice Cream Pie"; "Chocolate-Banana-Ginger Bread Pudding"; "Chocolate-Raspberry Truffles"; and "Bittersweet Chocolate-Rum Sauce". The recipes range from simple to more involved, but none of the recipes or required ingredients are out of reach for most cooks. Even chocolate lovers who don't cook will treasure this book--maybe even sleep with it under their pillow for the sweetest of dreams.

Review Copy Gratis Taunton Press

 The Simple Delight of Family, Friends, and Food  

For those of us fortunate enough to have grown up in a household where the kitchen was always open, and food was prepared and served with love, there is a true treasure to be found in memories of shared mealtimes. In good times and bad, the food was always nurturing, and the comfort and reassurance of the gathering of family and friends is a touchstone to last throughout our lifetimes. If we are lucky, we can continue the tradition of bringing together family and friends, merging and blending our heritage with the demands and deadlines of modern day life. Russell Cronkhite is an accomplished chef, speaker, and writer who for many years served the White House as the head chef of Blair House, the Presidential Guest House. I knew that I would enjoy his book, "Return to Sunday Dinner: The Simple Delight of Family, Friends, and Food", and I was prepared for the food to be fabulous. What I didn't know was how wonderfully he would capture my own feelings on the importance of the kitchen in the home, and how deeply his beautifully written passages on regional and cultural food history and traditional recipes would resonate. There is such great warmth, intelligence, and heart in Russell Cronkhite's words, that you feel as if you as if you are about to sit down at his own family table and partake of a memorable mealtime experience. Each chapter begins with an interesting introduction to a different region and food culture of America, and includes "Easy Time-Saving and Do-Ahead Tips". There are colorful, tempting food photos throughout the book, and each recipe has its own little story. This is truly exceptional food, but the preparation and ingredients are still within reach. Just a sampler: "Baked Apples with Walnuts and Cream"; "Braised Country Greens"; "Hearty Beef and Barley Soup"; "Chocolate Apricot Ricotta Cheesecake"; "Green Beans with Smoked Bacon and Onions"; "Molasses-Pecan Cake with Caramel Buttercream Frosting"; "Sage-Rubbed Roast Pork Loin with Cranberry-Apple Cider Glaze"; "Grandma's Fried Chicken"; "Mustard-Glazed Corned Beef with Cabbage and Braised Root Vegetables"; "Rustic Village Bread"; "Buttered New Potatoes and Dill Steamed Asparagus Spears"; and "Ginger-Peach Chutney". Take the time to read and enjoy this delightful and thoughtful book, and you will be inspired to create new family traditions of your own.

Review Copy Gratis Thomas Nelson Books

 Your Guide to Choosing and Preparing the Season's Best  

"Fine Cooking In Season: Your Guide to Choosing and Preparing the Season's Best" is a truly fabulous find for foodies. The authors of this book discovered so many tasty treasures that they had to add a fifth season to the year. Your tasteful journey begins in Spring, and continues through Early Summer, Late Summer, Fall, and Winter. Each season has its own "color tab", and each food has its own variety of recipes. I loved the fact that each food has its own pages with beautiful color photos, recipes, "other ideas", and a "Did you know?" question and answer. Learning about food helps to open your mind to trying new foods, and that is a healthy option for both mind and body. Becoming knowledgeable in how to optimize the potential of the properties of each ingredient is a fun and inspiring way to add new life to food preparation. A reason to please in each season: "Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Bacon Tart"; "Fresh Peas with Lemon and Chives"; "Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes"; "Apricot-Raspberry Buckle"; "Cherry Mousse"; "Braised Fennel with Tomato, Green Olives, and Capers"; "Roasted Onion Stuffed with Prosciutto and Parmesan"; "Fig and Anise Ice Cream"; "Sun-Ripened Tomato and Black Olive Salad"; "Carrot and Coriander Soup"; "Wild Mushroom Risotto"; "Chocolate Nut-Upside Down Cake"; "Glazed Pork Roast with Carrots, Parsnips, and Pears"; "Brown-Butter Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips"; and "Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Orange-Brandy Sauce". Tempted? You should be!

Review Copy Gratis The Taunton Press   

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