We thought 2020 could use a little extra Christmas, so on November 1st, Halloween came down and Christmas went up! We loaded Alexa with a fabulous Christmas playlist, and started watching all our favorite shows. With about a week to go, it was time to make cookies. We have traditional ones for sure, but I love doing family requests. They asked for pecan dreams, gingersnaps, and 7 layer bars. I have favorites for pecan dreams and 7 layer bars, but I didn’t have go-to gingersnap cookies. I decided to consult my very favorite cookie book, Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies. Sure enough, there was a gingersnap recipe in there and it had a triple-threat of ginger in it: fresh, crystalized, and powdered. Ooooo! Best gingersnap ever. Gobs of flavor and that perfect crispness.
She gives a dough chilling range of 2 hours to overnight, and a baking range from 14-19 minutes, depending on where you want to be on the scale from chewy to crisp. I made them once, chilling for 2 hours and once, chilling overnight, and the full spectrum of baking times. If you prefer them to really spread and get crisp, 2 hours chilling and 18 minutes baking hit that. If you prefer a little less spreading and a chewy crisp balance, chilling overnight and 17 minutes baking produced that.
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!
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.Continue reading “Speculaas Springerle, two ways.”→
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!