Monday, December 13, 2010

12 Books of Christmas

Not a big secret that I often get cookbooks to review. Many of these, I give away on this site, like these THREE books just last month. Others, I give to family and friends. And, I do keep a few. It's hard to let them go, but since I have over 300 on my shelves already ... here's some of the other books that will be under folks' trees this year. Don't ruin the surprise!

For My Brother-in-Law. If you asked my brother-in-law what his favorite meal is, the answer is easy; steak. Steak and lobster if possible. Given that Tramonto's restaurants are both upscale steak houses, this book should be perfect for him as he's started grilling more and entertaining at home. The recipes are definitely meant for entertaining, too. This is big food and premium ingredients for such recipes as; Crispy Sweetbreads with Pecans and Honey, Lobster Potpie, Pumpkin Soup with Foie Gras and King Crab Legs with Piquillo Pepper Butter. The book is meant to be for home entertaining, but home cooks need to be ready for a slightly longer list of ingredients than family meals. Some of the simpler recipes and book features appeal most to me; Braised Pork Shanks with Lentils or Turnips with Cinnamon and Prunes. I also like the oyster-buying and preparation instructions and the guides to different meat cuts as well as how to cook each different cut of steak. Tramonto's bold flavors are paired with personal photos and favorite scripture quotes to underscore the book's theme of family, faith and food.

I probably should keep this one and use it to create gifts for everyone next year. But, it will make a fantastic giveaway for January (hint). Think of it as the gift that keeps giving Orange Cardamom Marmalade, Smokey Tomato Ketchup made with citrus and smoked onions, Biscotti Christmas Trees, Brownie Pops, and a variety of fun "kits" as gifts such as the S'mores one with home made marshmallows and graham crackers. Yes, this should have been October's giveaway, but I get a bit busy at times. Always next year.

I gave this one as a wedding gift earlier this fall. The bride, my much-younger cousin, does not cook. The fifty recipes in the book were a perfect starter for her. I think someone must have been watching over my shoulder when I learned to cook because these are the very first recipes I learned; Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, the first foolproof recipe for Roast Beef, Cinnamon Rolls, Mac and Cheese, Chicken Noodle Soup among others. I can't think of a better set of recipes to get a new bride started in the kitchen all in one small, non-intimidating book.

For My Father-in-Law
I have to confess when I read this one to review it, I got lost in the photos of wide open spaces and rugged outdoor men. Rugged outdoor men cooking. I had to re-read the book to look at the actual recipes. For my father-in-law who spends his life between Montana and the Southwest and has religiously observed "Steak Night" every Saturday for more years than I have been alive? This one is perfect. The chapters are organized not by courses, but each dedicated to a different ranch in a different part of the country. Much of the food is rugged and robust meats and marinades, but there are a few upscale gems like Ranchero Grilled Quail and Blackened Grouper with Orange Remoulade. While I might miss the photos, my mother-in-law will be pretty happy about her man in the kitchen with this book.

For My Friend Jerry, who loves bacon.
Who wouldn't love this book, right? Buried between the smoky meat-graced pages is the path to Bacon morning, noon, night, dessert, drink and midnight snack. All the recipes are from top chefs including Rick Tramonto, Ming Tsai, Pichet Ong, Bradford Thompson, John Besh and even some local ones for us like Celine Tio. This some very sexy, smoky meat recipes not to be missed for bacon lovers. Uh, don't tell my spouse I am giving this one away.

1 comment:

_vTg_ said...

Wow- lucky you to spend your days reading cookbooks! They sound a great batch-lucky recipients.

While in the midst of a career crisis I read that cookbook editing was a highly competitive field to enter; I imagine reading the finished product even more so!!

Your mention of Saturday steak nights in the west brought back memories of summer weekends in rural Colorado where small eateries would serve Prime Rib every Saturday. No choice apart from the weight of meat you were ordering. And it was Good.