05 December 2015

Weekend Cooking: 4 Cookbooks for Gift Giving

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Cookbooks for gift giving from www.BethFishReads.comLooking for a little something different to give to your foodie friends this holiday season? I have a few suggestions that might be a perfect match for someone on your list, whether an experienced cook or a child. Note: I have read but haven't tested any of these cookbooks; still, I feel confident recommending them.

Custom Confections by Jen BeselCustom Confections by Jen Besel is a cute cookbook geared for middle grade kids, but I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't have a lot of fun with it. The equipment and recipes are basic, but the decorations are amazing. The secret is to use cake mixes and store-bought cookie dough, pie crusts, and puff pastry and then use them in creative ways to make mini tarts, ice cream cone cakes, and (my favorite) a pile of books cake. Some treats are no bake (stuffed strawberries) and some are frozen (ice pops). Besel provides detailed but easy-to-follow decorating instructions for the main recipes as well as the icings and fondants. Those dark chocolate truffles (at top right on the book cover) are calling to me. (Capstone Young Readers, 2014, 9781623701369)

Mug It! by Pam McElroyMug It! by Pam McElroy is a great little book for teens and college students, although you'll find plenty of grown-up recipes as well. The recipes are heavy on breakfast, snacks, and desserts, but you'll also find a handful of dinner recipes. And despite its title and cover, this cookbook also includes several mason jar recipes, such as salads, fruit parfaits, and pickles. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the mug-cooked breads, muffins, and cakes caught my immediate attention. I'm glad I looked a little deeper, however, because the pretty salads and creative dips look delicious too. Plus I know a few college students who would love to know how to make mug-size mac and cheese in their dorm-room microwave. (Pulp/Zest Books, 2015, 9781936976782)

The Cafe Spice Cookbook by Hari NayakThe Cafe Spice Cookbook by Hari Nayak is perfect for cooks who want to expand their repertoire into the fragrant and delicious world of Indian cooking. Nayak starts with an introduction to spices, techniques, and suggested equipment for us novices. The recipes are geared (as the subtitle says) for everyday meals, meaning they're easy and generally quick to make. I love that almost every recipe is accompanied by a full-color photograph, which is especially welcome when cooking unfamiliar dishes. The directions are clear and informative, and most of the ingredients are easy to find. Vegetarians may want to look through the book before buying. (Tuttle Publishing, 2015, 9780804844307)

The Simple Art of Salt Block Cooking by Jessica Harlan and Kelley SparwasserThe Simple Art of Salt Block Cooking by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser is for the adventurous cook, although the techniques involved are easy and mostly familiar. The book goes through the basics of grilling, baking, and serving using a special block of salt. Wait! I know your first question, and here's the answer: You can buy  Himalayan salt blocks in many stores, including Home Depot. I can also answer your second question: The authors assure us that the dishes will in fact not taste too salty. Besides appetizers, sides, and main meals, you'll find recipes for breads and even sweets. What's more, the flavors are global, from Mexican to Asian to classic French. I definitely hope to give this intriguing technique a try. (Ulysses Press, 2015, 9781612434834)


Tina 12/5/15, 6:47 AM  

Those are some great ideas for gifts. I like giving books and if it's something out of the ordinary for the recipient, all the better. I know exactly who I can give the Mug book to!

JoAnn 12/5/15, 7:39 AM  

I've never heard of salt block cooking... really curious about this one!

Molly 12/5/15, 7:47 AM  

My youngest used to enjoy creating in the kitchen more than I do. The Custom Creations cookbook would have been perfect for her about ten years ago :)

rhapsodyinbooks 12/5/15, 7:51 AM  

I think I totally need Custom Confections. Middle grade level is perfect for my skill level, and the cover looks great!

jama 12/5/15, 8:10 AM  

Thanks for these fun suggestions. I have my eye on the mug book and Custom Confections!

Katherine P 12/5/15, 8:11 AM  

The salt blocking looks interesting. That's something I've been wanting to try. And I've been wanting to cook more Indian food so Cafe Spice sounds perfect. Great suggestions!

bermudaonion 12/5/15, 8:42 AM  

I should pick Mug It! up for Vance.

Vicki 12/5/15, 10:37 AM  

I think I'd like all four books! Thanks for sharing them with us!

Esme 12/5/15, 10:44 AM  

The LA Times just had a list of cookbooks. I want Ottolenghi's one. I love his books. Cafe Spice sounds perfect.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 12/5/15, 11:43 PM  

I have to admit I want the mug cookbook.....

Teddyree 12/6/15, 4:48 AM  

I'm really curious about the salt block cooking, I've never seen anything like that in Australia. Mug It is calling me, I love treats for one in a mug and I love salads and noodle dishes in mason jars. Thanks for sharing :)

Andi 12/6/15, 7:59 AM  

I think I might actually pick up the mug book for my mother. She's in her early 60s, lives alone, and often can't be bothered to cook, so I think she'd dig this. Thanks!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 12/6/15, 9:49 AM  

I love to give people cookbooks for Christmas!

Laurie C 12/6/15, 11:30 AM  

I like the sound of all of them, but I'm most intrigued by the salt block cooking one! I'd never heard of that before reading your post.

Belle Wong 12/6/15, 9:08 PM  

I'm helping my daughter out with an upcoming trip as her Christmas present, but I want to get her something small she can open, too. Mug It! sounds perfect, along with a few microwave-safe mugs - thank you!

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