December 2014

December is a great month for buying books. Not only do they make perfect holiday gifts, but they’re wonderful to enjoy during cold weather; along with a cup of tea and a warm blanket. I’ve selected a fabulous group for your consideration.

MASTERING MY MISTAKES IN THE KITCHEN: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and over 100 Delicious Recipes from Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Dana Cowin with Julia Turshen is an inspiring and reliable volume. Ms. Corwin’s wit and candor reveal that she had a dark secret, which was that she, the mega food editor, ruined every dish she attempted to cook! She comes clean in this user-friendly cookbook with the help of food buddies like Tom Colicchio, Mario Batali, and Alex Guarnaschelli. The author tackles over 100 recipes and learns new skills in the process, which enables the reader to be successful in the kitchen. Recipes include: chili of forgiveness; Korean meat loaf; baked ziti arrabbiata; and milk and dark chocolate chip cookies.

The biggest cookbook I have seen in a while is THE NEW CLASSICS: A Definitive Collection of Classics for Every Modern Cook from Donna Hay Magazine by Donna Hay. This is Donna Hay’s biggest and best cookbook yet. Australia’s leading cookbook author Donna Hay reveals the ultimate collection of classic recipes for every modern cook from donna hay magazine. The book has everything that you ever wanted to know how to cook containing old family favorites as well as new creations. Best of all it is exactly the food that we want to cook and eat NOW, all written in Donna’s trademark simple, clear and easy way. This book is the definitive coffee table volume to please any foodie!

MY LITTLE FRENCH KITCHEN: Over 100 Recipes from the Mountains, Market Squares, and Shores of France by Rachel Khoo is a love letter to Ms. Khoo’s adopted country of France. The author takes the reader on a culinary tour of the four corners of France and back to her little Paris kitchen where she recreates the regional dishes, techniques, and inspirations from her travels. Highlights include moules aux pommes et calvados, apple and calvados potted mussels; ribs aux cases avec couscous à la menthe et fèves, sticky cassis pork spareribs and fava bean couscous; pizza Lyonnaise, Lyonnais pizza; and tartelette Tropézienne, Tropézienne tartlet.

TWELVE RECIPES by Chez Panisse chef Cal Peternell is a wonderful concept in cookbooks. When Chef Peternell’s oldest son was preparing to leave for college, he realized that even a chef’s son is not prepared to cook on his own. Twelve Recipes is the result of that realization. The recipes are the core tenets that comprise the heart of home cooking. The chapters in the book cover, toast; eggs, beans, salad dressing and what to dress; pasta with tomato and pasta otherwise; rice, polenta and mashed potatoes; vegetables boiled, roasted, sautéed and in soups; roasted chicken (a simple recipe lovingly entitle “smoke alarm/dinner bell chicken”); braises; grilling; sauces, and cake.

COOKING UP MEMORIES From You to Me is a way to capture and share favorite recipes, secret cooking tips, and fond food memories. This hard-backed journal gives you the opportunity to ask your family or friends to record just how they really do make their favorite dishes. Questions like “what are your earliest memories of your time in the kitchen?” or “what were the first dishes you remember making?” will inspire recipients to dig deep into their food memory banks. It is a gift you give but then you get it returned with an amazing collection of recipes and stories that you will surely cherish. You may also wish to visit their website at

CHUCK’S DAY OFF by Chuck Hughes with Joanna Fox is a lovely large paperback volume of good solid recipes. Celebrity Chef Chuck Hughes and chef in two Montreal restaurants Garde Manger and Le Bremner cooks wonderful dishes in his restaurants but on his day off he cooks fabulous dishes for friends and family. This is the culmination of his off-duty recipes. The book features over 100 flavor-packed recipes for food lovers and cooks of all levels. Standouts include roasted halibut with smoked tomato vinaigrette; spinach and lemon risotto with ouzo shrimp; flank steak salad; and molten white chocolate caramel cakes.

SWEET THINGS: Chocolates, Candies, Caramels, & Marshmallows – to Make or to Give by Annie Rigg is full of ideas for baking gifts for the holidays. You can dazzle your friends with gifts of chocolate bark; peppermint creams, crisp butterscotch popcorn (with a hint of sea salt); maple pecan fudge; or toasted coconut marshmallows. Each of the recipes comes with foolproof instructions for even novice confectioners. I also like the hints on gift-packaging which come in handy.

I also really liked HAND MADE BAKING: Recipes to Warm the Heart by Kamran Siddiqi. Mr. Siddiqi loves to bake and it comes through in this lovely volume of sweet treats. The author is also an amazing food photographer and it shows in his fantastically mouth-watering pictures of easy peasy brioche; molasses spice cookies; tres leches cake; chocolate Swiss roll; and maple pecan pie. It’s all about the ease in this wonderful cookbook perfect for your favorite sweetaholic.

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