by Sybil PrattDecember, 2004
Giving the gift of good food
Cookbooks truly are the gifts that keep on giving and this year's holiday array is sensational. If big and beautiful is what you're after, Bouchon, Thomas Keller's sumptuous homage to the best of French bistro cooking, is the perfect choice. Though renowned as the creator of the fabulous, innovative dishes served at his famed French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, Keller's personal favorites are the durable, satisfying classics of traditional French comfort food. And those recipes including Onion Soup, Quiche, Coquille St. Jacques, Bœuf Bourguignon and Mousse au Chocolat are garnished with incredible, seemingly edible full-color, full-page photos and carefully detailed instructions. A generous guide to making, maintaining and cherishing this warming, wonderful cuisine.
BEAUTY AND THE FEAST
Another knockout in every way is a lusciously illustrated cookbook by the ever-attractive Nigella Lawson. I would have called it Beauty and the Feast, but it's simply titled Feast. Nigella's aim is to bring people together through food. So, whether it's with a wide array of holiday foods for Christmas and Easter, Eid (the end of Ramadan) and Passover, Valentine's Day and Halloween, or her own imaginative ideas for meatless meals, Friday suppers, Sunday lunches, midnight marvels or international extravaganzas from Venice and Georgia, she shows us how to bring family and friends to the table in celebratory splendor year-round.
AND THE BEAT GOES ON
In Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures, the chef/owner extraordinaire of New York's perennially popular Gotham Bar and Grill gathers and streamlines 125 recipes from his restaurant repertoire that are simple enough for any home cook to make, yet spectacular enough to win oohs and ahs. And, once again, dazzling photography adds enticing, full-color zing to his marvelous mains and sensational starters, sides, salads, soups, small plates and sweets.
LIDIA'S FAMILY TABLE
A new cookbook by Lidia Bastianich, the leading lady and inspiring interpreter of la cucina Italiana for thousands of American cooks, is a welcome present for anyone who loves Italian food and is there anyone who doesn't? Lidia's Family Table is Lidia at her warm, gracious best, presiding over meals made for the four generations who gather in her kitchen and dining room. She shares dishes that are quickly prepared (so necessary in our hectic lives), traditional special-occasion and holiday must-haves and a few, new "spontaneous inventions." And best of all, she explains how she cooks at home, detailing the techniques she relies on, seasoning it all with her favorite tastes, passions, instincts and ideas. Another winner from the lovely, loving Lidia.
FOR THE GUYS WHO GRILL
For the guys who grill, there's a new thrill that staves off winter's chill and still keeps 'que heads happy. Steve Raichlin, the undisputed guru of the grill, baron of barbecue and master maven of marinades, is back with Indoor! Grilling: 270 Recipes Just for Grill Pans, Countertop Grills, Grilling Machines, Stovetop Grills, Rotisseries & Fireplaces. Convinced that he could find an indoor equivalent for every aspect of the outdoor, live-fire cooking experience, Smokey Steve covers every major type of equipment from a gridiron in the fireplace to a stovetop smoker. And, as always, he provides the lowdown on the gear the machines and the mechanics of using them and then offers recipes for fish, fowl, meat, breads and sandwiches, veggies, sides and desserts that bring the robust flavors of the outdoors indoors.