Cookbooks for Food Lovers

by Cate on December 5, 2006

With the holidays nearly upon us, I’ve gotten a bunch of e-mails from people asking for cookbook suggestions, and I’m ALWAYS happy to help with that! There’s a bunch of new ones that have come out recently that are making their way to my OWN Wish List, and some even to my bookshelf already, and around the holidays, there’s never a shortage of new titles.

We entertain a lot, so any book that has entertaining as the topic, I am there. The folks from Real Simple magazine have come out with Real Simple Celebrations, and it’s a definite winner. Covering major holidays and theme ideas, it’s packed with dinner menus, table setting suggestions and more, with a focus on keeping it, you guessed it, simple and even cost effective.

Next up, the popular Barefoot Contessa. I have every one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks in my collection and people always ask which one to start with. Truth is, you can’t go wrong with any of them. She focuses on fresh flavors and simple dishes that work well for both company and a weeknight meal. Her newest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa at Home, brings us more of the feel-good food that she’s become known for, with recipes like Pesto Paninis, Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing and Stuffed Pork Loin.

Jamie Oliver, that popular chef with the dizzying camera angles on FoodTV Network, has released Jamie’s Italy in the states. A grittier book than his others, he took to the streets of working class Italy and came back with recipes for Altamura Pea Soup with fresh peas and broken spaghetti, Pear Sorbet with grappa and more.

Now for this next suggestion, a disclaimer. Normally I wouldn’t recommend a cookbook I haven’t seen, cooked from or added to my own collection, but a local newspaper had such high praise for The Latin American Kitchen, I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it here. It won’t be released until December 25, so it won’t be in time for holiday gifts, but you may want to check out this newest offering from food writer Elizabeth Luard. The Star-Ledger said,”Elizabeth Luard spends a lot of time and expertise with The Latin American Kitchen and it’s worth every word and every penny. With the increase in interest in the Latin community and its food, this beautifully framed book explains all there is to know about special ingredients for Latin meals, and brings the colorful history of the Latin manner to life, bright and in color. From her formative years in Brazil to the restaurants of Mexico City, Luard defines the cuisines as ‘simple yet sophisticated, robust but subtle.’ Like a dictionary and cookbook all in one, this new book should be right up there with all the others within easy reach.”

Now, of course, mogul-in-the-making Rachael Ray has a few new cookbooks available. Rachael Ray 2, 4, 6, 8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds, Classic 30-Minute Meals: The All-Occasion Cookbook, and Rachael Ray’s Open House Cookbook: Over 200 Recipes for Easy Entertaining all came out within the last month or so, putting the 30 Minute Meal Queen at … what? … 15 cookbooks to her credit? The latter one is a republishing of her original Open House Cookbook that is no longer available. She certainly is a prolific one, that Rachael Ray, and true to form, these cookbooks follow her standard MO – good food fast.

Our favorite Butter Stick Beater, Paula Deen, has come out with a new one, aptly titled Paula Deen Celebrates! Heaped with her usual Southern style, a regular viewer of her shows might notice that a lot of these recipes originate from there. However, slightly different than her other cookbooks, she’s gone one step further this time and included table setting and decorating ideas, and online ordering information for food items like turducken. Recipes include Shrimp Etouffé, Muffuletta Sandwiches, Macaroni Salad, Collard Green Wantons, Scallop and Bacon Pizza, Gooey Toffee Butter Cake and Margarita Mousse.

And the last one for tonight, is the newest from Gale Gand, formerly of Tru Restaurant, Chocolate and Vanilla. This is one of the cookbooks that had me at hello. How can you not gravitate towards that cover picture? The book is bound in an interesting manner, but I won’t spoil it for you. The nice thing about the index is it’s broken down very specifically, i.e., milk chocolate, semi sweet chocolate and so on. Recipes include Vanilla Raspberry Rice Pudding with Lemon-Vanilla Caramel, Late-Night Vanilla Flan, Vanilla-Blueberry Crumb Cake, Boston Cream Cupcakes, Chocolate-Praline Cake in a Jar, Creamy Dreamy Walnut Fudge, Mexican Hot Chocolate Fondue and more. Gale also adds in helpful make-ahead tips throughout, anectdotes and even substitution ideas. If anyone wants to order this one, drop me a line. I ended up with an extra copy – happy to sell it.

That wraps up my cookbook suggestions for tonight. There’s a few more I’ll highlight sometime over the next week.

Before I leave you, on a very non-food note, you can check out another web site that I’m now writing for regularly, Daily Wireless.

Until tomorrow…

A year ago today … The Siter Cooks!

P.S. Don’t forget to place your order for the 2007 Eli/Sweetnicks Desktop Calendars! Just $5, includes shipping, and you have the perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite animal lover. A portion of the proceeds will benefit animal rescue. You can see here for a sample of one of the pages. Drop me a line at to place your order.

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