End-of-the-year holidays are fast approaching, and with them endless rounds of entertaining and dinner parties. Holiday revelers and researching students draw heavily on libraries' seasonal collections. Some new books help fill in gaps, update, and replace stressed holiday cookbook inventories.For mainstream America, holidays are a time for nostalgia, an opportunity to re-create the dishes that Grandma made or that she should have. With some help from her friends, Martha Storey has assembled 500 Treasured Country Recipes, all suitable for holiday get-togethers with family and friends. Starting with breakfast specialties, Storey tips her hand that her anthology holds more than typical midwestern farm recipes by including jalapeno omelets. Other recipes adapt hearty country dishes to today's demand for lighter, healthier cooking. Thus, she bakes butterscotch brownies with whole-wheat flour and wheat germ. Storey recognizes that today's cooks don't have any time to waste, so she makes good use of the microwave when appropriate. Nevertheless, Storey advocates such old-fashioned skills as sausage making and canning. A section on arts of the country home offers instruction in crafts for decorating and for gift giving.America's fastest-growing minority shares a variety of heritages from New World lands where Spain once dominated. In The Latino Holiday Book, Valerie Menard outlines the full year's festivals, not merely Navidad, that have a distinctively Latino origin or a uniquely Latino way of observing the day. Menard's quite serious purpose is to educate, not to plan parties. She outlines histories of days of special celebration for people of Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican heritage. Only a few recipes appear in sidebars, but Menard devotes several pages to instructions on properly praying the rosary. The book is a useful reference for anyone seeking background information on this increasingly influential culture rapidly becoming mainstream.Fans of television's premier Italian cook, Mario Batali, will enthuse over his Holiday Food, a compendium of distinctive recipes designed for Christmas celebrations in elegant Italian style. As with all Batali's work, these recipes take advantage of seasonal ingredients and represent a cross section of regional Italian cooking traditions. His version of the timpano, the show-stopping pasta dome from the movie Big Night, is more readily executed than the original but equally certain to impress holiday guests. Exciting desserts include a rich almond custard apt to become a family favorite beyond the Christmas season.Dorothy Morrison's Yule takes a lighthearted approach to preparing for the holidays. Her prescriptions for making light work of the necessary preseason housecleaning include little rhyming chants that imbue objects with mystical blessings. Most of these verses are based on pre-Christian, pagan North European traditions where trees are divine and celebrations focus on nature's solstice. Morrison's simple recipes cover the usual hearty winter comfort foods. Morrison also offers a daily calendar for the month of December for pagans to substitute for the traditional Advent wreath.Nothing says hearth and home for the holidays like the smell of something baking in the oven. Lora Brody's Basic Baking is a perfect introduction to the art and science of baking that serves to brighten the entire year, not simply the year-end festivals. Suitable for anyone looking for a comprehensive book of cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, and the like, Brody's detailed volume leaves virtually no question unanswered. Even experienced home bakers will profit from her detailed explanations of the science and technique of whipping cream, grinding spices, filling muffin tins, and making ingredient substitutions. This is a fundamental addition to any cooking collection. Its wealth of information makes it useful for reference.Holidays bring with them excuses to indulge the sweet tooth. Desserts take center stage and are often the holiday meal's most anticipated feature. For the more advanced cook than Brady addresses, master chef Christopher Kimball offers a comprehensive guide to dessert making in The Dessert Bible. In harmony with his work at the magazine Cook's Illustrated, Kimball exhaustively analyzes the pots, pans, and appliances that help the home cook produce the most satisfying results. He also presents tables comparing ingredients such as heavy cream and nutmeg, rating their flavors, textures, and general abilities to produce the best results. He experiments to find the best ratios of ingredients for shortbread and other cookies. He also documents some of his less successful efforts, sharing his considerable knowledge and experience and saving the home cook from repeating the unworkable. Armed with Kimball's data, the home cook has the tools to experiment and create new and personally satisfying baked goods. Kimball's frustration with rice milk as a healthy alternative in creme brulee is an object lesson for the cook too quick to make substitutions, regardless of one's concerns for good nutrition. Kimball's successful experiments have resulted in a crunchy caramel topping for creme brulee that avoids those dangerous open flames so often used. The dessert cook hungry for knowledge will profit highly from Kimball's treatises, and the one who wants merely to produce the best results can simply start following Kimball's recipes.If desserts aren't sweet enough or not ready quickly enough, candy provides instant gratification. Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Candy Book rushes to the rescue with recipes for all sorts of favorite homemade candies as well as directions for reproducing favorite commercial candies in the home kitchen. Weinstein makes plain the simple method of combining pecans, caramel, and chocolate into homemade turtles. His chocolate matzo makes the deprivations of the Passover season much more bearable. Some unexpected treats appear here, such as coconut snowballs: crisp coconut coating the outside of balls of contrastingly moist, chewy coconut. What's unusual is that they're served straight from the deep freeze.For some people there's but one worthwhile sweet in the world: chocolate. For these addicts, Kevin and Nancy Mills have produced a small volume devoted exclusively to their passion. Chocolate on the Brain offers recipes for cakes, frostings, cookies, brownies, blondies (chocolate-topped, of course), mousses, pies, fondues, sauces, and candies. Recipes stick to simple procedures, and most cooks should be able to follow the Millses' precise instructions easily. An index of recipes by the amount of time they take gives useful assistance to time-pressed cooks.Traveler and food writer Elizabeth David transformed British home cooking in the 1950s much as Julia Child did American cooking in the following decade. Stolid, puritan British postwar cooking suddenly flung open its doors and welcomed lusty Mediterranean traditions of garlic, olive oil, and fine wine. David accomplished her goal solely through her exhaustively researched books and a stream of magazine and newspaper articles. Artemis Cooper's biography, Writing at the Kitchen Table, traces David's career from her privileged, unfocused upbringing through the outbreak of war just as David was yachting through the Mediterranean with one of the host of men in her life. Interned by the Axis powers, David spent much of the war years in Cairo and learned Levantine culinary traditions. Late in marrying, she led a full, freewheeling life of liaisons and affairs, scandalous save for her determined sense of privacy and her rugged individualism. Her restless personal life found only one center: the kitchen, and she wrote eloquently and passionately about food. In addition to its obvious value as an account of an extraordinarily productive and culture-changing life, the book provides a good perspective on the status of the British woman before and after World War II.Mark Knoblauch, formerly a restaurant critic for the Chicago Tribune, is a longtime Booklist reviewer. Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews
Celebrates the history, traditions, and symbols of Yule, offering advice on gifting, feasting, and commemorating the Yuletide season around the world.Review by Publisher Summary 2
There's just something magical about the Yuletide season, no matter where you live or who you are. As bright candlelight mingles with the smells of pine and warm cookies and we perform our yearly rituals of song and family gatherings, the spirit of peace and goodwill seems to reach the heart of even the most cynical Scrooge. In the pages of Yule, Dorothy Morrison presents a wonderful potpourri of holiday lore from around the world and throughout history, along with fun crafts, delicious recipe seven a calendar of celebrations for every day in December. Learn where the traditions of the season originated—for instance, did you know that the ringing of bells was meant to drive away the demons who inhabited the darkest days of the year? That leaving cookies for Santa mirrors the old tradition of leaving a loaf of bread on the table overnight to bring prosperity in the new year? That the Yule log can be traced back to the ancient Greeks? Need a recipe for wassail or plum pudding? Tips for your holiday party? Want to make the season special by making your own decorative crafts and gifts? That's just a sampling of what's inside. Best of all, Yule shows that the spirit of the season is universal and, however we chose to celebrate and worship, we can all join together in the spirit of peace, love, and harmony at this special time of year.