Food & Drink Holidays

Top 10 Holiday Food and Wine Books

Holidays are nearly synonymous with great food, but somebody has to make it. Rachel Jagaresky provides us a top ten list of cooking and wine books that is sure to help you get through a savory holiday season.

With holiday feasting full steam ahead, perusing some new food books is always part of the preparation. If you are like me, a good gastronomical read is a treat in itself, but there is the added fun of glancing through recipes to add a few new twists to traditional holiday menus. While we might not be able to jettison Grandpa’s jellied cranberry sauce from the Thanksgiving table or that weird dip Uncle Elroy always lugs over for Christmas or Chanukah, the following ten titles might offer up some new favorites:

Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes From the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant
By the Moosewood Collective (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1990)
The venerable vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York has been in operation since 1973, and one of the traditions they’ve developed is a Sunday menu focused on different ethnic or regional cuisines. This cookbook collects some of the best recipes from India, Jewish cuisine, Provence, Armenia, North Africa, Finland and many other traditions. The descriptive writing is great and the recipes, while sometimes using exotic ingredients, are clear and calm. Reading the cookbook is like a having a buddy in the kitchen to guide you along.

The Art of Making Real SoupsThe Art of Making Real Soups
By Marian Tracy (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1967)
Forget congealed cream of whatever soup concoctions; this cookbook will bring you back to your stock pot with its collection of homemade soup recipes from around the world. From Arturo Toscanini’s simple and comforting Rice and Celery Soup to West African Ground Nut Stew to decadent Florida Key Conch Chowder, this cookbook offers uncomplicated examples of comfort food for colder weather.
Fog City Diner CookbookFog City Diner Cookbook
By Cindy Pawlcyn (Berkley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1993)
Fun, homey food from this San Francisco institution is outlined in this graphically-interesting cookbook. You can savor chef Pawlcyn’s remakes of old standbys like coleslaw with a boiled dressing or gussy up your mom’s chicken pot pie recipe with curry, peas and shiitake mushroom. A dreamy cookbook that will find you dog-earing many pages.
Splendid FareSplendid Fare: The Albert Stockli Cookbook (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970)
Numerous uncomplicated, yet elegant recipes from Cordon Bleu Chef Albert Stockli. I make Stockli’s Stuffed Baked Potatoes recipe each Thanksgiving under direct orders from my family. There is also an old-fashioned Continental approach to meat cookery, with many pages devoted to game and other cuts of meat one must procure from a real butcher shop.
Cooking from the GardenCooking from the Garden
by Rosalind Creasy (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988)
This is a gorgeous, photograph-packed book for home gardeners and cooks to drool over. Creasy thoroughly details theme gardens: Heirloom, Native American, Baked Beans, Cajun, Asian, French, Mexican, German, etc. and offers planting advice, recipes, interviews with gardeners, and a wealth of new ways to enjoy vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.
Via de FranceVie de France
by James Haller (NY: Berkley Books, 2003)
More of a food journal than a cookbook, this title relates the charmed month that chef Haller and friends spent in a 17th-century Loire Valley chateau, eating, cooking, thinking about food, driving to purchase food and daydreaming about food. A seductive book dripping with garlic-infused recipes that could easily send you into the same food-obsessed state.
 Debbie Fields' Great American DesertsDebbi Fields’ Great American Desserts
by Debbi Fields (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1996)
What holiday spread would be complete without a couple of indulgent desserts? Debbi Fields of cookie fame, expands her repertoire with 100 fairly easy recipes for cakes, tortes, pies, cheesecakes, and other sweet treats. Lots of color photos to guide the novice baker and a clean, well-spaced layout for easy reading. I can vouch for the decadence of her Flourless Fudge Brownies.
Leftover GourmetThe Leftover Gourmet
by Patricia Rosier and Jessica L. Weiss (Avenel, NJ: Wings Books, 1993)
A good all-purpose cookbook for those piles of post-holiday turkey meat, snippets of smoked salmon, leftover mashed potatoes and remnants of cold cut platters.
Ken Hom's East Meets West CuisineKen Hom’s East Meets West Cuisine: An American Chef Redefines the Food Styles of Two Cultures
by Ken Homs (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987)
A nice counterpoint to the richness of holiday food are the clean, fresh tastes of Asian cuisine. Hom’s cookbook has a wealth of information about shopping for ingredients, preparation techniques and presentation of these sumptuous recipes. Try Steamed Fish with Scallions and Young Garlic Shoots, Cold Zucchini-Ginger Soup, or Tangerine Sorbet for something refreshing.
Great Wine Made SimplerGreat Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier
by Andrea Immer (NY: Broadway Books, 2000)
A festive meal always benefits from a little bubbly and in this book Immer takes you by the hand to provide as much or as little information you might need to choose the right wines for your holiday table.

Rachel JagarskiRachel Jagareski is co-owner of Old Saratoga Books, an open shop in upstate New York which has been in business since 1996 and online since 1998. They have over 50,000 titles in stock, with fresh arrivals nearly every day.

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