Over the years, I have gathered several Christmas cookbooks that have added great flavor to holiday meals. These books are great if you’re looking for ideas to take your holiday dinner beyond the traditional turkey with the trimmings and want to try something a little different, whether it’s prime rib with Yorkshire pudding or rack of lamb with timbales made of pesto and bulgur wheat.
The first was Jeff Smith’s “The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas,” in which stories of the Nativity, Hanukkah and more are interspersed with recipes for the likes of hot buttered rum or peppermint candy cookies.
Straw and Hay (Paglia e Fieno) for the donkey that carried Mary is an attractive mix of spinach linguine and regular linguine mixed with a garlic-olive oil sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese. The Shepherd Boy is honored with a Green Olive Soup topped with rustic slivers of toast.
Rozanne Gold’s “Christmas 1-2-3” is a part of her three-ingredient cookbook series in which all you need to make roast goose is the bird plus some chestnuts and prunes for the stuffing. Brussels sprouts with sun-dried cranberries needs only the addition of butter to make it complete, and the name of Prime Ribs of Beef, Cabernet-Garlic “Jus” says it all.
These are not simple recipes. In fact, some of them are quite complicated, but the flavor emphasizes the freshness of the ingredients. You don’t want to skimp on any of the three.
Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen Christmas” is a Texas-filled collection of goodies that range from Scallop, Pancetta and Radicchio Salad to Cranberry Margaritas. The stories include tips on outdoor tree trimming and cookie decorating to make your holidays more colorful and bright.
Though each of these books deals with holiday meals, the great part of them is that you can use each one year-round. I mean, who wouldn’t want Rather’s Red Velvet Cupcakes With Mascarpone Cream Cheese Icing any time of year? Or Gold’s Five-Spice Bacon? Smith’s recipe for Creamed Onions is a regular part of the repertoire. Give it a try; it’s sure to join yours, too.