I usually just tell you about the cream of the crop cookbooks I review, but there were a few other books that came across my desk in the past year that are outstanding and totally giftable for the right person. Truly special pieces.
Need a gift for a lit lover, dog person, mythology fan, or wine enthusiast? I’ve got you!
When my husband handed me a gift on our first Christmas together, I unwrapped it to find a cookbook, looked up and glared at him, and he ducked a little, laughing, “No! Open it up!” Tickets to Phantom of the Opera. Five years later, when our baby was tiny, and we decided I’d stay home with her, I was suddenly responsible for all things domestic with absolutely zero interest in cooking or cleaning anything. None. Then everyone in the playgroup started watching Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals. She made everything look fun, doable, and yummy, and suddenly we were all cooking and doing a nice job of it. I’m so grateful that we all had her. I stumbled across this book and ordered it in a rush of nostalgia. I don’t watch daytime tv anymore so I had no idea what she’s been up to or what to expect. But now I can help you with that!
Rachael Ray 50 is filled with Rachael’s essays, a memoir of her life so far, and those are dotted with 125 recipes that mean something to her. Some of them are quick, but she’s not limiting herself to speed meals here. The pasta puttanesca was the only one that I remember from her early days. I flagged so many that I need to order more post-it notes! I’m really glad she made this one a hardcover, because it’s special.
The book is broken into three sections: Family, Friends, and Work.
I’m going to share her recipe for Baked Ricotta and Roasted Grapes with a Balsamic Drizzle. It’s like a savory cheesecake. It’s easy, delicious, and beautiful – perfect for all the upcoming holidays! Please note that there are two asterisked sub-recipes after the recipe that you’re going to want to deal with first, so that you’re just ready to go!
If you love Ree’s other books, you’ll love The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier, too! It has a great mix of comfort food and healthy fare, frequently with thoughtful ideas of how to make subs to suit to your eating style. She’s got some recipes for everybody’s favorite personal appliances like the Instant Pots and slow-cookers, but also gives instructions on how to cook it if you’d rather stick with the oven. For the most part, she uses economical ingredients, but there’s a special surf and turf dinner with lobster tails and beef tenderloin. I love this one! But I’m most definitely already a big fan. 😊
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It was tough to decide which recipe to ask permission for. The Giant Cinnamon Roll is so good that it’s replacing the monkey bread I normally make on Christmas morning with Jacque Pepin’s quiche, bacon, and fruit salad, so I finally picked that one! And, you can make a lot of it ahead of time (Yeah, I marked it. Through step 8!) so it’s a great one for an easier morning! I love Scandinavian flavors at Christmas, so I may play with a little cardamom and orange in the icing then. Anyway, go make this and brighten your weekend! If you’re an espresso head like me, use espresso instead of coffee. Sooo good! A huge thanks to Ree Drummond for letting me share the recipe with you!
Leah Koenig’s flavors are amazing! Just delicious! Little Book of Jewish Feasts is just a little bigger than my hand. There are 25 main dishes in it for holidays. There are no sides in it, but she does make some recommendations. The dishes are so special and are pretty easy. Some of her techniques are unusual, but absolutely brilliant for making a dish appropriate for feeding a crowd. We’ve loved everything we’ve tried and totally recommend it!
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! What to make as a dessert? How about a glorious Nutella cheese ball with big fat juicy strawberries to accompany it! Thank you to Chronicle Books for letting me share the recipe with you!
I always make crème brûlée for Christmas and Valentine’s Day dessert. I’d been playing in a bourbon cookbook, The Bourbon Country Cookbook, and the crème brûlée in it sounded fantastic, so we gave it a try. Oh my gosh! Bourbon Caramel Crème Brûlée is hands-down the best crème brûlée I’ve ever made. There’s just a smidge of bourbon in it, and it doesn’t overpower it at all. It enhances it beautifully! I prefer the laziness of sous vide crème brûlée, but the flavor on this one is a knockout!
Do you wish you could make all those fabulous gourmet goodies that you buy at a really good deli counter? Savor: Entertaining with Charcuterie, Cheese, Spreads & More is filled with them! She leaves lots of room for customization, so you can make everything your own. Kim Stevens will have foodies inspired to play. Everything we’ve tried has been absolutely delicious. And interesting. This is the book that will make you a cocktail party or picnic hero. Read More
Have you tried your hand at the lovely spiced cookies, Speculaas? I love the Springerle recipe from King Arthur Flour. I just use 1 1/2 times the spices they call for for a really flavorful cookie. My adapted version is below.Read More
All across the state of Texas, tamales and queso are on every Christmas Eve table. I thought I’d start off December with a big tamalefest! I’ve been playing in Alice Guadalupe Tapp’s book, Tamales: Fast and Delicious Mexican Meals. This has been a very fun, yummy experiment, and it gets easier every time. Those fresh, delicious tamales are quite a treat!
I’ll tell you all about the book in a minute, but first, let me share the recipe for Refried Bean and Chorizo Tamales with you! A big thanks to Ten Speed Press for permission! Read More
What a soccer weekend it’s been! FC Dallas had a killer deal on tickets this weekend as they were trying for their 300th MLS win. It was 100ºF in the hot Texas sun, but oh so worth it, as they got that 300th victory in a 3-1 game! It was a fan’s dream game with constant possession of the ball. We had too much fun. Then we woke up and watched the final World Cup game. Vive la France!
In honor of France’s victory, I thought I’d share my favorite French cookbook, Essential Pépin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food. Jacques’ Quiche with Bacon is fantastic, and easy peasy. Perfect, foolproof crust and gorgeous flavor. I can’t imagine a holiday brunch without it. It’s also lovely on a plain old Saturday morning with a simple green salad. A big thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for letting me share it with you! I’ll get to my review of the book afterwards, but first, that glorious quiche!