Friday, November 4, 2011

Entertaining for the Holidays

It's hard to believe that the year is coming to a close and we are approaching another holiday season.  I never have to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal, but I do contribute a dish or two to share at the home of a sibling.  I do, however, always prepare an entire Christmas dinner for my immediate family which we devour on Christmas Eve and then reheat our individual favorites on Christmas Day. 

With all this cooking and prepping in mind, I've started perusing cookbooks along with my younger daughter, who loves to cook.  And it's never too early to start thinking and planning for holiday meals. 

If it's your first time fixing up a holiday meal for family and friends you might take a look at  Thanksgiving 101 It may be just the book for you.  This title provides fool proof recipes for your Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings, along with a large helping of advice.  I know I could have used some advice the first time I cooked a turkey!

Should you choose to offer a new dish or two to your guests, consider these titles.  Each has a collection of delicious recipes and might have the perfect offering for your holiday gathering, whether it's in November, December or even January.

A compilation of casual recipes Perfect Recipes for Having People Over  includes advice about which events go with certain dishes, how you might vary the recipes, and suggestions for which side dishes and drinks to serve with each dish.  There's also valuable information about how far in advance you can prepare the dish---a nice fact to have if you're planning for a large gathering.

Real Life Entertaining has lots of uncomplicated recipes for everything from sit down dinners to a mid morning brunch (a nice idea for New Years' Day, maybe).  Check out the introduction to this book in which the author talks about her love of entertaining and making human connections...and about the first time she prepared a meal for guests at the tender age of 9!

Updated and revised, The New Elegant but Easy Cookbook skips the processed cheese and onion soup mix recipes of the 1960 version and gets right to the heart of cooking good food with quality ingredients.

Nigella Lawson loves food and loves cooking food for her family and friends.  You can't help but get excited about a good meal shared when you read Feast: Food that Celebrates Life.

Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates offers some great meatless recipes for holidays and special occasions through out the year.  The book is divided by season, so it's pretty simple to find things for Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years' or Kwanzaa.

Or would your family prefer you stick to more traditional fare? 

Christmas with Paula Dean is chocked full of recipes for holiday sweets, meats and side dishes, all with Paula's traditional Southern flair.

The Christmas Kitchen includes wonderful recipes and menus but also includes ideas for gifts and parties to make the holiday season special.

In The World of Jewish Entertaining acclaimed author and chef Rabbi Gil Marks gives practical advice and easy-to-follow recipes for a wide variety of dishes from the most homey and traditional foods to haute cuisine.  In addition, he provides background information on all the events, putting them in a traditional Jewish context.

Fauquier Libraries will be displaying a wide variety of holiday entertaining and cooking books over the next several weeks.  Stop in and browse, you might find a new favorite recipe or get a great idea for a party or gift.

Happy Cooking and Happy Holidays!

Dawn S. @ Warrenton

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