By David Nilsen
The holidays are rapidly approaching, and GPL has you covered when it comes to cooking, baking, frying, mixing, braising, basting, sautéing and even stuffing all of your family’s favorite dishes. We even have books that can help you introduce them to some new ones. With no further introduction (it’s a long post, people), here are Fourth & Sycamore’s recommendations for the best holiday cookbooks at GPL.
The Gathering of Friends: Volume Six – a Year of Holidays at Home by Michelle Marie Huxtable (642.4 Huxtable). Brand new to our shelves, the visually pleasing pages of this book are great for getting into the mood to cook those big holiday meals. This book includes fun recipes for July 4th, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, but the largest portion of the book concerns the big fall and winter holidays. Recipes cover breakfast, lunch, appetizers, dinner, and dessert. Yummiest sounding recipe: Potato Crusted Jalapeño Quiche (page 92).
The Taste of Home Cookbook: Best Loved Recipes from Home Cooks Like You (641.5 Taste). While not strictly speaking a holiday cookbook, you’re sure to find some ideas to please your holiday guests among the 1,380 recipes in this book. Every major family of foods is covered, with a large selection of recipes for pies, cakes, cookies, and other desserts, and even a dedicated chapter on making candies. Invite me over if you decide to make: Coconut-Mango Mahi Mahi (page 206). You say that’s not a holiday recipe? I say Mele Kalikimaka.
Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats by Joy Wilson (641.86 Wilson). This one might win the award for “Can I Just Eat the Book? Thanks.” These delectable recipes jump off the pages and will definitely make you want to head to the kitchen to make them yourself. Dessert types are organized into their own chapters, and there is even a chapter for Brunch that includes pancakes, scones, donuts, and other similar late morning snacks (or breakfast if you had too much eggnog the night before). Yes Please: Dirty Chai Lattes (page 71).
Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (641.5 Otto). This is not a Jewish cookbook specifically, but a cookbook that seeks to expose the bountiful culinary variety of this ancient city. Many of these recipes are from various Jewish traditions, but many also reflect the city’s Palestinian, African, Eastern European, Arab and other mingled traditions. One of the best known Jewish Hannukah dishes is Latkes, or thin, fried potato cakes. If you are Jewish, will be having Jewish guests this holiday season, or just want to try something new, you can find this wonderful recipe on page 92. While you’re at it: Spice Cookies (page 278). Cookies made with brandy? Yum.
Thanksgiving 101: Celebrate America’s Favorite Holiday with America’s Thanksgiving Expert and Christmas 101: Celebrate the Holiday Season from Christmas to New Year’s by Rick Rodgers (641.568 R). If you need basic but comprehensive guides for preparing traditional holidays meals, these are the perfect books to check out. Rodgers guides the home cook through every step of preparing a Thanksgiving spread, as well as providing over 100 recipes for the winter holidays in the Christmas volume. Hold the stuffing, I’ll just have: New Wave Eggnog (Christmas page 18).
The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes by Amy Thielen (641.5977 Thielen). Anchored in the sensibility of the American Midwest but branching out to include recipes from people of many cultures around the world that have found homes here, this cookbook is truly unique. A spicy crayfish boil reminiscent of the South, pike filet recipes from northern Minnesota, Russian salad that the author’s aunt makes in Spain, and many others can be found in these pages. For the holidays, try Rullepølse (page 296), a traditional Scandinavian pork and beef Christmas recipe, or Rye Crackers with Smoked Oyster Dip (page 57). Someone please make this: Nebraskan Runzas (page 174), a seasoned beef-stuffed bread shell.
Pie Love: Inventive Recipes for Sweet and Savory Pies, Galettes, Pastry Cremes, Tarts, and Turnovers by Warren Brown (641.8652 Brown). Pecan. Sweet potato. Pumpkin. Few foods signal the arrival of the holiday season like our favorite pies. Whether you want a sweet afternoon snack to serve before the big Thanksgiving dinner, a dessert to serve with coffee after a night of caroling, or a rich confection for your Christmas party, this book by lawyer-turned-baker (how’s that for following your passions?) Brown has everything you need. You must make this: Pumpkin Pie (page 98). It was featured on the Today show. And I made it last weekend and it was wonderful. So.
Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte (641.5972 Arronte). While preparing this list, I asked my wife what traditional Mexican holiday fare her family makes at Christmas. Tamales and mole, I was told. Also, mole is pronounced MOHL-ay (don’t make the same mistake I did). Anyway, this 700 page book contains 13 recipes each for tamales and mole, so I think it has everything covered. Also, it’s just a gorgeous book. You’ll look cool just pretending you cooked something out of it. Why didn’t you tell me this was an option, honey: Pineapple-Coconut Tamales (page 643).
Teeny’s Tour of Pie: Mastering the Art of Pie in 67 Recipes by Teeny Lamothe (641.865 Lamothe). This well-organized book is separated into seasons. The chapters Fall: Pies to Frolic With and Winter: Pies to Hibernate By are especially helpful for those planning their holiday baking. Lamothe tells you everything from how to select utensils, how to make various crusts, how to make the pies themselves of course, and how to navigate life with a name like Teeny. Actually, I can’t find that last chapter, but I’m sure it’s here somewhere. Not teeny on the taste: Petsi Pies’ Sweet Potato Pie (page 119).
The Christmas Cookie Book by Judy Knipe and Barbara Marks (641.865 K). This one doesn’t need much explanation, so I’ll go ahead and make this all about me and make my requests now: Kourabiedes (page 42) – cognac and cloves is all you need to know. Apricot-Coconut Confections (page 46) – you don’t need me to explain this one. Cappuccino Icebox Cookies (page 69) – these titles take the fun out of trying to describe them. Moravian Molasses Cookies (page 105) – this clarifies that the molasses should be unsulfered, which begs the question of who would ever want sulfur cookies. Best extra touch: Candied Grapefruit Peel (page 121).
Cocktails, Cocktails, & More Cocktails by Kester Thompson (641.874 Thompson). Nothing says, “I don’t have to sit at the kids’ table anymore” like a grown-up drink in your hand at your family holiday gathering. For me, that’s usually a seasonal craft ale of some sort, but it could easily be one of these excellent mixed drinks from world class bartender Thompson. Improve on after-dinner coffee with an Espresso Martini (page 38), or warm up on a snowy December night with a Hot Buttered Rum or a Dark ‘n’ Stormy (both page 79). You must remember this: Eggnog (page 26). I make mine with bourbon, but this recipe using Jamaican rum sounds wonderful as well.