Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I love this time of year!

Christmas is wonderful (as attested to by the three Christmas trees decorating my little condo!) but the best thing about the end of the year is the bonanza of cookbooks available to real addicts like yours truly!

In the last few months, my well-loved and well-thumbed cookbook library has grown. Thanks to the frequent extra 15% off coupons I get from B&N, I have been a cookbook-buying fiend. What better way to spend a cold winter's evening than wrapped in a Rudolph blanket with my nose in a cookbook?

I subscribe to Cook's Country magazine, a less intimidating, more realistic version of the America's Test Kitchen magazine. This year, The Cook's Country cookbook: regional and heirloom favorites tested and reimagined for today's home cooks came out. The only recipe I've tried is Blueberry Boy Bait (a buttery cake with blueberry topping) and it is a keeper, though I still haven't caught a boy....

Nick Malgieri (a chef who looks like he actually eats and enjoys what he prepares) is one of my culinary heroes. This year's book is The modern baker: time-saving techniques for breads, tarts, pies, cakes and cookies, a beautifully illustrated volume with background information on each and every recipe--great reading. I haven't tried anything from this cookbook yet but I will forever be in Nick's debt because of the cornmeal cake which is dense and chewy and heavenly with raspberries!

America's Test Kitchen family baking book brought Caramel cashew Rice Krispy bars into my life--who knew you could improve the perfection of a Rice Krispy bar? There are also Macademia and white chocolate Rice Krispy bars and Almond Joy Rice Krispy bars yet to try!

Southern Living homestyle cookbook (the 2008 edition) provided Cardamom Crunch snack mix which is to be devoured by the handful. Being a proud Swede, I love cardamom (especially in cinnamon bread) and grind my own when needed for a recipe. Yum-o (to quote Rachael Ray).

I've been a follower of Taste of Home magazine since the beginning and have a huge collection of their cookbooks. This year's selection was Taste of Home Christmas Cookies & Candy, full of recipes from real cooks--I've never had a failure with any recipe I've ever tried. I made the coconut macaroons for my Christmas open house and they were delicious. Instead of the usual egg whites (a no-no for a dear friend of mine who loves coconut), these are made with sweetened condensed milk. Chewy and delicious and easy to make, next time I'm going to add a little chocolate to the recipe.

My most recent purchase was Heirloom cooking with the Brass Sisters: recipes you remember and love by Marilynn and Sheila Brass. The Brass Sisters are antique dealers who often found handwritten recipes in the wares they were selling and grew ever more fascinated by what they were finding. Another career was born--they have two cookbooks out and do a PBS cooking show. Their books are fabulous for snuggling under a blanket and reading, with a steaming mug of hot chocolate near at hand. The lemon chicken recipe in this book is really tempting....

Go out and buy a cookbook for someone you love (or for yourself)--they make great presents!

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