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December 2007 Cookbook of the Month: Your Suggestions Needed

Hello, CotMers! The clear consensus is that people want a cookbook for December that’s full of holiday treats for serving, giving, and sending. Certainly general baking books would be appropriate, but let’s also consider books that specialize only in cookies or those that emphasize other types of gifts from the kitchen such as preserves, chutneys, oils, and vinegars. I’d like your help in narrowing down the field to just two or three such titles for us to vote on. What are your go-to books for the holiday season? What book would you like to see as December Cookbook of the Month?

In order to make it easier for participants to scan others’ suggestions and for me to tabulate the results, I’d appreciate it if you would make your recommendations in the following format:

TITLE (in all caps), Author: Description of the book or reason you are recommending it (optional)

If you want to second or third a title that someone else has already mentioned, please repeat the title, typing it in capital letters. Just saying “I agree with Stewpot” may well get lost and your choice might not get counted. And the more often a particular title is mentioned, the greater the chance it will be among the finalists.

I’ll post the two or three most recommended books on November 12 and we’ll begin the voting for December Cookbook of the Month on November 13. I’m looking forward to seeing your suggestions. And, as always, thanks for participating.

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  1. JoanN -- before we get started on the voting, what was the baking book we did last December, so as not to duplicate?

    1 Reply
    1. re: DanaB

      Last December was Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

    2. I am so not a baker and am looking forward to suggestions from the more experienced CHs, but just to get the list started - these are books that I already own, have made recipes that were winners (though just a couple), and just looked through and seem appealing and received good reviews - links below. (BTW, other books I have seem too specific; for example, Flo Braker's Simple Art of Perfect Baking, and Carole Walter's Great Cakes).


      Better Home and Gardens OLD-FASHIONED HOME BAKING

      1. PURE DESSERT Alice Medrich. While there is a chapter on chocolate it by no means all about chocolate. It is a new book just out on the last month or so.

        1. ROOM FOR DESSERT. David Lebovitz.

          Has a nice range of desserts--cakes, custards & souffles, fruit desserts, ice creams, cookies & candies, liqueurs & preserves. Some of my favorites that I've tried: fresh ginger cake, coffee caramel custard, concord grape pie. Nice seasonal recipes, many using fruit. His recipes generally work.

          Perhaps we can use his website recipes to supplement:

          1. ROOM FOR DESSERT. David Lebovitz.
            (really CarbLover, I was going to post that anyway!)
            Here's an old thread on the ginger cake
            His website is very generous with recipes, and there's plenty of other press citations to fill in for people that don't have the book.
            As noted, there's great variety and very sublime and adult flavors
            AND you can learn how to candy citrus zest

            1. David Leibovitz, Room for Dessert!

              12 Replies
              1. re: abud

                Wow! I'm going to have to look this book up. I have 0 cookbooks consisting entirely of desserts. Many of my cookbooks have sections on desserts and I've become an avid baker due to Jamie Oliver, Rose Carrarini (Rose Bakery), Nigella, Wolfert, Greens and Tasajara cookbooks, and Julia Child. I now like to make dessert as much as I like to make main dishes. This has just happened in the last 5 years or so.

                I'm looking forward to a dessert only cookbook. I didn't get that involved in the Dorrie Greenspan book. I think I cooked 2 things. But you got me with the ginger cake and "adult flavors".

                I just checked Oakland and Berkeley libraries and Oakland doesn't have it at all. Berkeley has one copy "in transit". Will have to check the availability of online recipes.

                Oops. I just remembered that I DO have a specific dessert cookbook. Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts!

                1. re: oakjoan

                  Leibovitz's book looks really interesting. Unfortunately, my library system (which is huge) has NO books in the system. Weird, since the book came out in 1999.

                  1. re: beetlebug

                    Yeah, my local libraries don't have Lebovitz either (note that it's Lebovitz not the usual Lieb). I thought of buying it used on Amazon, but it's still very expensive. Am hoping if it's chosen that there'll be lots of online recipes. I've done a little checking and found 4. Buttery Almond Pound Cake, Warm Summer Fruit Compote, Apricot and Vanilla Bean Souffle with Creme Anglaise (using dried aps); and Almond Layer Cake with Lemon Frosting. All these fit my taste in desserts to a tee.

                    1. re: oakjoan

                      His website has loads of recipes - don't know if they are from the book or not though:


                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I must have totally spaced that out. Looked at his website yesterday and just started reading it...maybe that was his blog? Is it separate?

                        If he does have loads of recipes, I'd vote for his book if we could also use dessert recipes from his website.

                        I was going to suggest Breakfast Lunch and Tea from the Rose Bakery in Paris, but it's too slim a volume. Some amazing desserts therein, though....as I keep nattering on about month after month.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          Yes, his recipes are linked on his blog. (His blog is very entertaining BTW.) This reminds me that some months back he posted that his publisher is no longer printing Room for Dessert as well as Ripe for Dessert. I see that Amazon no longer carries Room for Dessert and that only outside sellers have it available. The cover price is $30 and what I paid for it from my local bookshop, but now that it's no longer in print, I guess the prices go up.

                          It's too bad some library systems don't carry it. If you see it at a bookshop and like the sound/look of the recipes, then I encourage you to buy it. I normally wouldn't suggest that w/ most books, but this is a wonderful dessert book w/ recipes that work and it will probably become more difficult to find at a reasonable price...

                          1. re: Carb Lover

                            That explains it. My friendly neighborhood librarian tried to place an order for the book and it was rejected by the computer system.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              Thanks for hooking us up with the link for David Lebovitz above. Wow, I just looked through his site and found some amazing recipes! I would totally be on board for using his book for our December discussion. I just wish it was easier to come by.

                            2. re: Carb Lover

                              I will consider it IF you look at Rose Carrarini's Rose Bakery Cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch, Tea. I can't understand why it isn't a world-wide bestseller! Maybe she'll read this and send me a ticket to Paris to visit...hmmmmm?

                              I will look it up this week. Your rec. is a big plus for any cookbook.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                Deal! In fact, I think I saw it at my used bookstore recently. I'll have a looksy...

                    2. re: oakjoan

                      You know I'd love to see Rose Carrarini's "Breakfast Lunch Tea" worked on here, but I figured it was too expensive and not in as wide distribution.
                      Lebovitz "Room For Dessert" fits the dessert and sweet gifts profile better, plus there really are a ton of online resources between his site and newspaper articles done on him.

                      I'm into the Alford & Duguid that JoanN asks about below, but it's Home Baking more about bread, not so much holidays, special sweets and desserts.

                      If I've convinced anyone about Lebovitz "Room For Dessert"
                      please post in caps so JoanN can find you!

                      1. re: oakjoan

                        I''ve made friends w/ my librarian, and have given her lists of cookbooks which she has purchased for the library! She looks them up and based on whether they're recommended for general libraries (which almost all solid cookbooks are), purchases them, I put a hold on them online and voila! they're mine to borrow (and often later purhcase -- I buy from ecookbooks.com (cheaper and faster than Amazon, and they're a real brick and mortar store in Mass.)

                        The librarian has come to respect my recommendations and now she almost always buys what I request.

                    3. The below are terrific and are focused mainly on desserts. They come from two café/restaurants well known for their sweet concoctions. Each has a few excellent savory dishes as well.

                      - Tartine - Elizabeth Pruitt

                      - The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Café by Rebecca Rather

                      - The Pastry Queen Christmas: Big-hearted Holiday Entertaining, Texas Style - by Rebecca Rather

                      1. A gentle reminder to please help JoanN by posting your suggestions in the format mentioned in her first post when making recommendations. Discussions of a book's availability or other commentary are fine, of course. The format will just help her pick out the recommendations more easily.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                          I skimmed too fast and posted wrong. Apologies JoanN, particularly as I really appreciate the job you do!

                          by Gina de Palma (with Mario Batali)

                          i wanted to make every single recipe in this book from the second I picked it up!!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tastycakes

                            Dolce Italiano, serious second from me -- this is a gorgeous and inviting book. It's very new, though, and may not be in libraries yet.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              I do see there are copies used for $19 and change on Amazon.

                          2. Attention all COTMers.

                            I’m interrupting this thread for a minute to confess utter confusion and to put myself at your mercy.

                            Way back in August when I asked for six months’ worth of suggestions, an overwhelming number of people asked for a baking book for December, quite a few specifically mentioning books that would contain recipes appropriate for gift-giving. Some of the authors mentioned, a few repeatedly, were Martha Stewart, Maida Heatter, Nick Maglieri, King Arthur Flour, Rose Levy Berenbaum, Julia Child, Alford & Duguid and the books mentioned were Fancy Pantry and Better than Store Bought. I find it disconcerting that not one of those authors or titles has been suggested in this thread.

                            Of the books that have been recommended so far, many (The All-American Dessert Book, Pure Desserts, Tartine, The Pastry Queen Christmas) have a limited number of recipes appropriate for storing and/or gift giving, one (Room for Dessert) is out of print, one (BH&G Old Fashioned Home Baking) isn’t available in the New York Public Library system or at either of the Barnes and Noble bookstores I checked, although there are plenty of inexpensive copies at Amazon.com, and one (Dolce Italiano) is too new to be in the NYPL system and I could find no recipes from the book online.

                            I’m not sure what to make of this. Did those who voted in August change their minds and decide they wanted to do a general dessert book rather than a baking/gift book? Should pleas for general availability be ignored in certain instances? Have the people who contributed to the six-month thread assumed those recommendations would be taken into consideration and thought it unnecessary to repeat them here? Is participation in COTM so sporadic that what is true in August is no longer true in November?

                            At this point, with four days of voting to go, the winners are a book that is out of print and may not be available at your local library (Room for Dessert) and another (Dolce Italiano) that is brand new, fairly expensive, may not be available at your library either, and has no recipes (that I could find) online. Is that okay with you?

                            22 Replies
                            1. re: JoanN

                              I think there are enough online David Leibowitz recipes and my vote is to stick with them.
                              However, if we decide to throw another book in the ballot--
                              MASTERING THE ART or TWC, Julia Child (that is, assuming that gift giving recipes are not as important--they are not as important for me)
                              Or, if gift giving recipes ARE important
                              BOOK OF GREAT DESSERTS, Maida Heatter

                              1. re: abud

                                Abud!! Julia Child was just the book of the month author for October. Here's the link to all the discussions our cooking from her books generated:


                                Have you been following the project month to month?

                                JoanN, I can feel your frustration! See what happens in the next couple days, but overall, just use your judgment on picking the next book. You have done so well, so far ;-)

                                1. re: DanaB

                                  Yes, I saw them but I just like her so much. Sorry!

                              2. re: JoanN

                                Poor Joan, Please don't despair! I suggest you consider the baking books previously recommended. Are we going to have a vote after you narrow them down?
                                thanks much.

                                1. re: NYchowcook

                                  "Are we going to have a vote after you narrow them down?"

                                  Definitely. I'll narrow down to the two or three most frequently mentioned as of Monday, November 12, and we'll start the voting on Tuesday, November 13.

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    can I suggest that you select two or three that meet our criteria for COTM for December?

                                    1. re: NYchowcook

                                      Over on the Site Board, when were discussing COTM procedure, a number of people said they missed the suggestion thread each month; they said it renewed their enthusiasm for the upcoming month and they liked tossing around ideas. It doesn’t make sense to me to have a suggestion thread and then have the moderator make the decision. Pitu stated very succinctly a point that many made. She said, “I think the collective input and democratic process is important to the project and participation.” If the book of the month is going to be chosen democratically, don’t you think it should be the participants, not the moderator, who make the decision? Or am I misreading you?

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        I'm not at all in disagreement with participants voting on COTM, and I'm not suggesting you alone select the one COTM book. Rather, I was responding to your inquiry about why people aren't piping up to advance those books suggested for the six-month period.

                                        My suggestion is only that you review both the six-month thread and this thread, along with the suggestion (as I recall) that December be a baking cookbook month, to select those books from which we will then vote on.

                                2. re: JoanN

                                  Ah yes - I see what you mean JoanN. That is curious, that none of those previous books have been mentioned again.

                                  Just speaking for myself, I'm not really a dessert eater or a baker so have not much to offer for suggestions; but yes, it would be nice to have a book that has a good variety, including recipes suitable for gift-giving (cookies, candied nuts, glazed popcorn, bars, fudge, baking mixes, for example) as opposed to books focusing on specific items (i.e, cakes). There are just two of us who both work at home, so no coworkers to benefit from goodies. I don't think I'll be baking more than a couple of cakes! Well, E would be happy if I did, but our waistlines wouldn't ; )

                                  I'm just not familiar with many dessert books/authors, so only listed ones I already own. I did like the variety of chapters in The All-American Dessert Book:
                                  Pies, Tarts, and Cheesecakes
                                  Cakes and Frostings
                                  Cobblers, Crisps, and other Fruit Desserts
                                  Pudding, Custards, and Trifles
                                  Cookies and Bars
                                  Ice Cream, Sauces, and Soda Fountain Treats
                                  Candies and Confections
                                  Family Fun: Easy Gifts and Treats

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    I have no real suggestions either. I am a baker, but somehow, I manage to find recipes in a fairly random and haphazard way. Last year, while waiting for the Dorie Greenspan book, I made a fair amount of stuff from the Martha Stewart Baking book.

                                    I also like the idea about recipes that can be gift oriented - to me, it's cookies. Frankly, I don't really care what book I bake out of, as long as I can get it from the library.

                                    1. re: Rubee

                                      Now we need somebody to go to that earlier suggestion thread(s) and see if those folks are (a) not posting about the COTM this time around or (b) posting a different suggestion.

                                      I think lots of people get involved in a discussion about this or that because somebody posts a compelling statement about a book or books. Then folks chime in...later on, when voting comes around, they're either not paying attention or don't remember what they said 4+ months ago. Or perhaps they changed their minds.

                                      I say if they don't participate in the suggestion/voting thread this month, they should be disregarded...or maybe their suggestions should be included. I'm mealy-mouthed about this.

                                    2. re: JoanN

                                      I think part of the problem, as far as the gift giving books go, is that most of us didn't really have a good suggestion for that. I think it was just a dream, at least on my part. There is Fancy Pantry and Better Than Store Bought, but I think they would be difficult to find, either at the stores or at the libraries. (Hint, hint, book publishers... a niche for you to get into!!) I find a lot of this stuff in magazines, unfortunately. Martha Stewart's special Holiday Gifts magazine last year was outstanding!

                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                        Maybe, for December, if there is an excellent holiday gift magazine, we can cook from that. Aren't there usually links on the web that go with the magazine? I'm not the biggest magazine reader so I have no real suggestions, but I would pony up the $$ for a great holiday food/cookie issue.

                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                          I think this is an excellent suggestion (the magazine thing).

                                          As wonderful as the Lebovitz book sounds (and it does sound wonderful), the fact that it is out of print and not available at many libraries makes it an odd choice. But then again, if we used his website recipes, I'm all for it.

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            It occurred to me after posting that the magazine idea would need to be a little more definite ... we'd need to actually FIND a magazine as described and post the name of that. Has anyone seen anything that fits the description and looks good?

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              I haven't found a really great one yet this year, unfortunately. I found some good ones here: http://www.parents.com/parents/slides... But that doesn't really help us with the COTM.

                                          2. re: beetlebug

                                            What about Martha Stewart? You really can't find a better choice for crafty foodie gifts. She always does holiday projects in the November/December issues. Plus, her website has lots of past options. For example:


                                        2. re: JoanN

                                          Hi JoanN - I don't have much to add to what other have said - I don't bake often these days, so didn't throw out any suggestions, and probably won't being doing much baking other than from a couple of standards of mine over the holidays. One thought that we through around a while back was the idea of people just baking what they like, and then they could post recipes/results. But obviously, that's not a cookbook of the month. Good Luck!

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            I think the fact that you are getting different suggestions from those offered last summer is not surprising. No one remembers what they posted several months ago, and we've all ben exposed to many new (at least to us) cookbooks since then. I suspect that this will be a recurring problem if you try to garner suggestions early. I'll happily bake from one of the earlier-suggested books, as I like to give baked goods as gifts. MAIDA HEATTER'S COOKIES and ROSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIES (Berenbaum) are both excellent, and widely available.

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              I second ROSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIES. Even if you don't bake, it's a beautiful book to look through.

                                            2. re: JoanN

                                              Hi JoanN. First off, I appreciate all the thought and energy you have put into this! I also appreciate that you started the monthly suggestion threads again since I was one of those on the Site Talk thread who missed this. I can see how it might be a little confusing to have both threads going, but I think it can be worked out.

                                              I'm not too surprised that suggestions on the other thread haven't surfaced on this thread yet. There could be many reasons for this. The way that I conceptualize using both threads is that the monthly one carries more weight because it's more current. The other suggestion thread is sort of an ongoing bank of ideas for you to select monthly topics or specific cookbooks to throw into the voting. You can even remind us of some of the books and authors that have been suggested in the ongoing thread in your intro for the monthly thread. If this ends up being too much work for you or too confusing, then you can get rid of one thread (the earlier 6-month thread can be locked, for instance).

                                              I suggested Room for Dessert w/o remembering that it is no longer in print. Again, that happened just a few months ago, so it's very possible that bookstores still have it on their shelves and that it's still available through other channels. We can also use his website so that the vote would be for both the book and the website.

                                              I also have some procedural issues that perhaps are best discussed on Site Talk so I will post there later. I do think that requiring each poster to make only ONE suggestion would be good, otherwise multiple suggestions can get out of hand.

                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                Thanks, Carb Lover. I really appreciate your, and everyone else's, feedback. The six-month suggestion thread seemed like a good idea at the time, but I understand completely why most participants are happier with month-by-month suggestions.

                                                Regarding Room for Dessert, I checked yesterday at Barnes & Noble. They're completely out of it and can't get any more. Amazon.com has only 12 copies, and the lowest priced is $27 +shipping. In the way-too-much-time category, I just checked the book against his Web site and only five recipes are in/on both, so if this does end up being among the finalists, as now seems likely, the selection would definitely have to be for book and/or Web site.

                                            3. MAIDA HEATTER'S BRAND-NEW BOOK OF GREAT COOKIES, Maida Heatter. A long-time respected dessert cookbook writer. Was on the scene long before Martha amassed her empire.

                                              ROSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIES, Rose Levy Beranbaum. A master at baking. And if people want to bake and/or give away cookies . . .
                                              Library journal recommends this book: (paraphrased) features favorite holiday cookies of all kinds – simple for baking w/ kids, fancy for gifts or parties, and even a gingerbread cathedral for the ambitious over achieving baker. Recipes include a color photograph for each. Clear and detailed instructions. Most cookies in her book are easy and fun to make.

                                              THE CAKE BIBLE, Rose Levy Beranbaum. Where her fame began. Regarded as the definitive cookbook on the subject, for beginners to more experienced bakers.

                                              Other Maida Heatter baking suggestions:

                                              MAIDA HEATTER'S BEST DESSERT BOOK EVER
                                              MAIDA HEATTER'S BOOK OF GREAT CHOCOLATE DESSERTS
                                              MAIDA HEATTER'S CAKES

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                                I like THE CAKE BIBLE, but it is not a book for baked gifts from your kitchen.

                                              2. Additional suggestions (to follow-up on earlier suggestions for 6 months:

                                                THE ALL-AMERICAN COOKIE COOKBOOK, Baggett, Nancy. Cookies from various regions of the U.S.

                                                THE ALL-AMERICAN DESSERT BOOK, Baggett, Nancy. Good reviews; something for every person who bakes, and all kinds of desserts – cakes, cookies, candy, gifts, treats, and pies.

                                                BITTERSWEET: RECIPES AND TALES FROM A LIFE IN CHOCOLATE, Alice Medrich. IACP 2004 Cookbook of the Year.

                                                1. In order of what I'd use or would like to use - don't have the third title but plan to buy it soon:
                                                  MARTHA STEWART BAKING HANDBOOK
                                                  ROOM FOR DESSERT, David Leibovitz
                                                  BREAKFAST, LUNCH, TEA, Rose Carrarini
                                                  THE CAKE BIBLE, Rose Levy Beranbaum

                                                  1. Great Cookies by Carole Walter --- wonderful cookies and easy-to-follow recipes.

                                                    Besides, you can't have too many cookie recipes in December!

                                                    1. THE MARTHA STEWART LIVING CHRISTMAS COOKBOOK, Martha Stewart

                                                      HOMEMADE: DELICIOUS FOODS TO MAKE AND GIVE, Judith Choate

                                                      First, thank you, Joan, for organizing. I am having a *ball* with COTM right now, and I definitely want to take part in December's book discussion. Please, please, no cookies-only books... that seems so limiting! Many people can't even eat cookies due to dietary restrictions.... I am part of the crew you mention, Joan, those who would love to experiment with other homemade gifts, like infused oils, chutneys, jams, marmalades.

                                                      You're right -- the suggestions for non-cookie/dessert-books seem sparse, so I started hunting around... I searched online and these are a couple that popped up. I actually really like Martha Stewart's recipes. I know nothing about Choate but from the reviews that I scanned, the book seems comprehensive, including cool international chutneys, etc among the homemade goodies. I'll try to get to the library to check it out tomorrow.

                                                      Links to these books, including reviews:



                                                      1. MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING HANDBOOK in conjuction with MARTHA STEWART'S HORS D'OEUVRES HANDBOOK, obviously Martha Stewart

                                                        The Baking Handbook for obvious reasons; the Hors D'ouevres Handbook because there a lot of recipes for marinated olives, crackers, chutneys, mustards, etc.

                                                        17 Replies
                                                        1. re: Katie Nell

                                                          Oh I like that idea (especially doing holiday hors d'oeuvres, etc along with the baking).

                                                          So my vote is now also
                                                          MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING HANDBOOK in conjuction with MARTHA STEWART'S HORS D'OEUVRES HANDBOOK

                                                          1. re: Katie Nell

                                                            Me too -- fabulous, fabulous idea.

                                                            - My vote is now also MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING HANDBOOK in conjunction with MARTHA STEWART'S HORS D'OEUVRES HANDBOOK.

                                                            I love hors d'ouevres! YAY! Great idea, Katie Nell!

                                                            1. re: foxy fairy

                                                              I don't think we are voting yet, are we? Just making suggestions--

                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                From Joan's original post:

                                                                "If you want to second or third a title that someone else has already mentioned, please repeat the title, typing it in capital letters."

                                                                The suggestions will be narrowed down to a final few to vote starting Nov 13-- so we're just offering support here for Katie's suggestion so it makes it to the voting stage -- Joan had requested that we mention the title again if we are offering support for someone else's suggestion.

                                                              2. re: foxy fairy

                                                                I agree with the recommendation MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING HANDBOOK in conjunction with MARTHA STEWART'S HORS D'OEUVRES HANDBOOK.

                                                                I think those are nice ideas, I've had success cooking from other books of hers, and I've been dying for an excuse to buy the latter. We could also extend it to recipes on her site.

                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  I am on board with the MARTHA STEWART BAKING HANDBOOK in conjunction with MARTHA STEWART HORS D'OEUVRES. I wasn't going to vote in this nomination thread if the book was going to be limited to a baking book, since I'm unlikely to have the time to join in, but with the hors d'oeuvres book thrown in, I would be able to participate.

                                                                  I posted the suggestion of doing Martha Stewart upthread before I saw this part of the discussion. The good thing about Martha Stewart is that we've got the website as a backup, plus the November & December issues of the magazine always have food gift ideas. By including the book on hors d'oeuvres, it will allow people to participate who aren't that into baking (I have the hors d'oeuvres book, and there are some very tasty recipes for holiday entertaining, as well as ideas for prepared foods that can be given as gifts).

                                                                  Here are some good ideas from the webpage:


                                                              3. re: Katie Nell

                                                                MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING and MARTHA STEWART'S HORS D'OEUVRES - I haven't participated yet, but I definitely would with these selections selections and they should be available at every library!

                                                                1. re: mincewords

                                                                  YES -- my library system lists multiple copies of Stewart's Baking and Hors D'oeuvres handbooks at various branches, and I raced right out on Friday afternoon and checked both books out, so I could page through them and assess the recipes. The verdict: these are EXCELLENT choices, and I would love to participate in a discussion about both books. I like that they draw upon so many kinds of recipes, introducing ideas from the simple to the complex, with presentations that also vary from easy to ornate. While I don't tend to think of myself as a baker, and I was originally more excited about the hors d'oeuvres, I concede that after looking at the baking, I'd say this is way cooler than your average cookie book. She even includes recipes for curds (lemon, lime, passion fruit, and grapefruit), which I would like to try and give as gifts. The book is packed with unusual baked goodies: yummy-looking fruit crisps, breads, bagels, savory biscuits, cookies of course, tartlettes, English muffins, strudels -- all sorts of baked treats, both sweet and savory. The photos are tempting and seem very helpful in breaking down techniques.

                                                                  The hors d'oeuvres handbook was all that I had hoped and more -- I was drooling and almost missed my Friday night engagement b/c I didn't want to put the book down. Homemade gifts would include marinated olives, herbed goat cheese balls, crackers (cheddar-cornmeal, parmesan-rosemary, blue cheese-pecan, Gruyere-thyme), spiced nuts, assorted bread sticks (lemon dill, cumin Parmesan, clantro/chili/lime etc), salsas, chutneys, many more.

                                                                  The hors d'oeuvres themselves are *dynamite* and represent a world of cultures. What fun to entertain with this book! I know I'm going on and on here... but these books would be IDEAL for December. Think of the fun ideas for holiday parties: canapes and tea sandwiches of course, savory tartlet shells, terrines, pizzas, crepes, baby quesadillas and assorted, empanaditas, sushi, potstickers, jerk chicken on tostones, snazzy little sips (gazpacho in cucumber cups, mushroom sip with barley wonton etc).

                                                                  I really think that between these two, there are definitely multiple ideas to keep hounds satisfied, cooking, baking, partying their way through December.


                                                                  1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                    I'm glad everyone is so excited- the hors d'oeuvres book is really a beautiful cookbook!

                                                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                      I'm *glad* you went on and on - you've convinced me that, whether these books are chosen or not, I'm going to get them. I've got a birthday coming up ... I smell gift suggestion!

                                                                      1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                        my sister in law -- who is an energetic excellent cook -- declared Martha's hors d'oeuvre book to be . . . Torture! Excessively elaborate, difficult, fussy and time consuming. But hey, I haven't tried it yet. But I am sick of martha.

                                                                        1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                          Huh, thats interesting (and a little scary). I love to cook, but have a toddler in the house, so really intricate preparations are hard to handle. Anyone else have any familiarity with the books?

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            I think it's more that some of the presentations are fussy, but most of the presentations are not necessary... for instance, hollowing out a pullman loaf of bread to hold tea sandwiches. I really think that a lot of the recipes are not difficult other than that. But, it's all relative... I'm sure some people would think making your own crackers is crazy!

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                              I just went through it last night and, as foxy fairy mentioned above, there are definitely a variety of recipes in the book. Of course, things like canapes, tiny tea sandwiches, edible cups, etc are fiddly, but there is a lot more (even simple 'recipes' such as edamame tossed with sea salt, cheese drizzled with truffle oil, and grilled sausages served with different store-bought mustards). Some of the other appetizers include mini quesadillas, salsas, guacamole (which I noticed is almost exactly how I make mine), cocktail shrimp and sauces, Asian meatballs, pizzas, soups, summer rolls and dumplings, empanadas, stuffed mushrooms, skewers, crostini, ham and biscuits, lots of dips and spreads, along with classics like fondue, grapes rolled in roquefort and nuts, gravlax, brie en croute, phyllo triangles (I usually have a batch of the lobster ones in the freezer), and crab cakes. There are also easy composed courses such as crudites, cheese plates, marinated olives, and spiced nuts, and oysters. As a bonus, there's a nice section on cocktails too.

                                                                              I'm going to try a few of the easier recipes for an antipasto platter for a dinner party tomorrow - Parmesan-Parsley Puff Pastry Straws (I'm using store-bought PP), one of the Ice Box Crackers, and two kinds of marinated olives (Mixed with Preserved Lemon and Oregano; Warm Spicy Kalalamata Olives). All those recipes can be done ahead of time too.

                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                Rubee-- I would love to hear how these recipes turn out for you! Which ice box cracker are you planning to make? I've been eyeing them over the past few days myself :) The olives sound snazzy, and fantastic! Have fun with the recipes!

                                                                                1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                  Here's the update!

                                                                                  I always make too much food, so ended up just making the puff-pastry straws and the olives with preserved lemon. I still plan on making the ice-box crackers though this week for Thanksgiving. I'm going to do the gruyere and thyme ones.

                                                                                  I would make both of these recipes again. I usually make my olives with a lot of assorted herbs, garlic, orange zest, etc. This recipe was just a few ingredients, but I loved the flavor with the preserved lemon, white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and dried oregano. I also garnished with fresh oregano. I did end up throwing the straws into a hot oven for a few minutes before serving. I served them as appetizers along with an antipasti platter (cheeses, pepperoncini, piquillo roasted peppers, stuffed cherry peppers, salumi, green olives, and crostini) and a couple other COM recipes - Spicy Shrimp from Silver Palate, and Camembert cheese with Drunken Raisins from Zuni. The preserved lemon is a recipe from Arabesque.


                                                                                2. re: Rubee

                                                                                  I'd love to hear how things turn out too. I ended up seeing this at the library, so immediately scooped it up. I had a look at it (gorgeous photos), but haven't really gotten into the meat of it yet, and we're headed out of town for a week, so won't be able to for a while. I'm still very interested in it.

                                                                      2. My vote is also MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING HANDBOOK in conjunction with MARTHA STEWART'S HORS D'OEUVRES HANDBOOK.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: pie

                                                                          MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING HANDBOOK in conjunction with MARTHA STEWART'S HORS D'OEUVRES HANDBOOK is a great idea (thanks Katie!)

                                                                            1. re: kennedy

                                                                              PULEEZ read the intro to this thread and put any suggestions IN CAPITAL LETTERS to make it easier for the Listmistress to find them.

                                                                              PS: I am guilty of not following directions as well.

                                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                Oh, yes you are right! Thanks for the tip. My suggestion is BAKING WITH JIM DODGE by JIM DODGE

                                                                                Jim Dodge is an amazing chef and baker. Some of you may remember his restaraunt, La Toque, which used to be on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.

                                                                                The lemon pistachio cannolis are amazing!!!

                                                                        2. If we're going to look at magazines, the latest Bon Appetit has a yummy-looking section on food gifts, ranging from Brownie Thins, to Candied Espresso Walnuts, through Spice Rubs, toBalsamic Fig Chutney. Looks good to me.

                                                                          1. I'd go for MARTHA STEWART'S BAKING HANDBOOK (I seem to remember a close runner up from last year) or MAIDA HEATTER'S BOOK OF GREAT DESSERTS

                                                                            1. I vote for Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I have it, and have baked a couple of things from it (lemon cookies, and jam-filled thumb prints) and both came out great, despite the fact that I am not at all an experienced baker. They were easy to make, and the results were excellent. I would love to delve into the book more, and read what others do, too.