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Thursday, December 16, 2021


Stocking stuffers should be at the very top of everybody's gift list: something affordable from under $10 up to $25 or so, and that can also double as a host gift, being something small and lightweight. Most of the books here are paperbacks. And of course, they can all stuff an adult stocking.
Typical for food are:
--LAZY DAY BRUNCHES; relaxed recipes for the morning (Ryland Peters & Small, 2021, 144 pages, $20 hardbound) is a publisher's book with 65 preps by 11 food writers, principally Carol Hilker (23 recipes) and Kathy Kordalis (15 recipes). It's arranged by course, from fruit and grains through pancakes & waffles, eggs, salads, sides, pastries, preserves and drinks. A handy compilation.
--MORTAR & PESTLE; 65 delicious recipes for sauces, rubs and marinades (Ryland Peters & Small, 2021, 144 pages, $20 hardbound) is a publisher's book with 65 preps by 22 food writers. Valerie Aikman-Smith leads off with 13 different recipes. It's arranged by course, and includes sauces and condiments, snacks and small bites, poultry and game, meat, seafood, and veggies. Another handy compilation.
--FOOLPROOF BBQ; 60 simple recipes to make the most of your barbecue (Hardie Grand Quadrille, 2021, 144 pages, $28.99 hard covers) is by Genevieve Taylor. It's a manual to home BBQ, with an emphasis on year-round fail-safe grilling. Material embraces equipment and techniques. The whole range of meats is covered: chicken, pork, beef, lamb, fish/seafood, veggies, even desserts. Well-worth a look, and a pretty good book in the "Foolproof" series.
--FOOLPROOF ONE POT; 60 simple and satisfying recipes (Hardie Grant Quadrille, 2021, 144 pages, $28.99 hard covers) is by Alan Rosenthal. It's another entry in the publisher's "Foolproof" series. It's open and shut: throw a lot on ingredients into a single pot or pan. These are the "acoustic" versions of the "electric" pots: no slow cookers or instant pots here, although the preps can be adapted to that equipment, Most recipes here are "low and slow" on top of the stove; some are pot bakes for the oven. There are both savoury and sweet preps. Vegan and vegetarian recipes are marked as such. There are two types of pot needed – deep and wide-shallow. Browning meats is a plus, as are side dishes which are mainly potatoes, rice, whole grains and pasta.  Easy-peasy.
-GLUTEN-FREE HOLIDAY COOKIES (Artisan, 2020, 96 pages, $17.95 hardbound) is part of the Artisanal Kitchen series of small handbooks. This one is by Alice Medrich with Maya Klein. They've got over 30 recipes "to sweeten the season" . Not all then preps are exclusively Christmas: the standards here reflect both the classics (chocolate chip, ginger, double oatmeal, nutty thumbprint, et al)
and the festives (buckwheat walnut or hazelnut tuiles, toasty pecan biscotti, chocolate sables, ginger-peach squares, et al). Sure to be a winner in the hostess gift sweepstakes, for it even includes conversion charts.
--BOARDS, PLATTERS, PLATES: recipes for entertaining, sharing, and snacking (Artisan, 2021, 160 pages, $24.95 hardbound) is by Maria Zizka, co-author of  the excellent "Tartine All Day" cookbook. Here she gives us 30 boards/platters/plates for all manner of events, ranging from the basic charcuterie board and cheese board through appetizer board, Parisienne party size board, cauliflower pakora, beachside, Lebanese lunch, vegan rainbow, bagna cauda party size, and even six boards for dessert. Very well-presented with illustrated examples of layouts of boards and identification of all the components. Fish and seafood are also added, as for the beach or for the grand aioli. Well-worth a look.
--ONE-BOWL MEALS: simple, nourishing, delicious (Artisan, 2021, 160 pages, $24.95 hardbound) is by Maria Zizka, co-author of  the excellent "Tartine All Day" cookbook. Here she has given us 30 combinations organized by base (oatmeal, chia, yogurt, grains, noodles, greens. The basic formula is start with a base, build with a protein, and add a sauce, and then a couple of toppings, and some crunchy garnishes. Thes one-meal bowls can be protein-enhanced, or made vegan, or made gluten-free. She's got the ideas all laid out for us. Yummy photos too.
Other little books (and calendars), for beverages, include those on beer, wine and spirits:
--LET THE FUN BE GIN; cocktail recipes & coasters for the happiest hours (Castle Point Books, St. Martin's Press, 2021,  boards and coasters kit in book form, $24.99) is a collection of stylized 10 pop-out coasters and 10 cocktail recipes, designed to jazz any celebration with colour and with clever sayings. It's your own Algonquin Hotel (but without New York).  Coasters are easy to save and to re-use. The 10 recipes include the Aviation: citric tones, herbaceousness, floral notes. Full instructions given!
--NEGRONI (Ryland Peters & Small, 2021, 64 pages, $15 hardbound) is by David T. Smith and Keli Rivers. Here are more than 30 classic and modern recipes for Italy's iconic cocktail.  Variations make use of dry and aged vermouths, along with ports and sherries and white bitters. One for the cocktail friends.
--CLASSIC COCKTAILS; the very best martinis, margaritas, manhattans, and more (Artisan, 2021, 112 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is by Nick Mautone. It's a utilitarian guide to the 40 most popular and iconic cocktails. These are the basics, suitable for all levels in its conciseness. The primer has opening notes on the right tools and the right techniques, followed by a series of drinks based on the type of alcohol, from gin through vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila, brandy [just two: sidecar and alexander] , and wine (including sparkling wine). 'Nuff said.
--IT'S WINE TIME  (Dog `n` Bone Books, 2005, 2020, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is by Chris Losh. It was previously available as "Pick the Right Wine Every Time", and it is now back in print as a nifty little work that details everything you've always wanted to ask about red, white, rose and sparkling wine. The food section now also includes matching with vegetarian dishes, written by Fiona Beckett.  Coverage extends to specific themes of drinking at home (lunch, BBQ, before and after dinner), splurging at dinner parties, eddings, holidays, and parties in general, drinking while out at bars and pubs, date nights, picnics, gifts, and restaurant wine lists.
--WINTER DRINKS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 144 pages, $19.95 hardbound) has been pulled together by Julia Charles. It's a publisher's package of previous preps by several food and drink writers, most notably Louise Pickford with 17 and Julia herself with 16. Eleven other writers also contributed.
So here are 75 recipes to warm our hearts, with hot drinks, toddies, part cocktails, and mocktails. Included also are hot chocolates, warm milks, coffee drinks and teas, as well as restorative mulls, revivers and soothers. My fave is the sparkling cocktails. My wife likes the sparkling mocktails. Chacun a son gout.
--STRANGER GINS; 50 things to drink while you watch TV (Dog 'n' Bone, 2021, 64 pages, $13.99 hardbound) has been compiled by Carol Hilker, a Chicago-based food writer. All of the shows are "series" and include old and new. Thus, there's Twin Peaks (recommended drink: Jacoby's Coconut). Fleabag (Hot Priest), Mad Men (Dirty Don Martini), and Seinfeld (Festivus)...But no Sopranos. She's got recipes and reasons for each show. PS: I'm not ashamed to admit having seen all of these shows but drinking just wine.
--HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK 2022 (Mitchell Beazley, 2021, 336 pages, $20 hardbound, $14.99 Kindle ebook)  is a guide to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. His co-author is Margaret Rand. It is in its 45th year (first published in 1977).  Johnson claims more than 6000 wines and growers are listed. News, vintage charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are here. His book is arranged by region, with notes on the 2020 vintage and a few details about the potential of 2021, along with a closer look at the 2019. He's got notes on what wines are ready to drink in 2022.   Johnson is  also moving into food pairing: there is a section on food and wine matching. He also has a listing of his personal 200 fave wines.  The Kindle edition is digitally enhanced for word searching, so it often beats a printed index for retrieving data – and it is $5 cheaper! A great purchase....
--A YEAR OF GOOD BEER 2022 PAGE-A-DAY CALENDAR (Workman, 2021, 320 pages, $22)
quenches the beer lover's thirst: microbrewery recommendations, beer lore, trivia, history, labels, vocabulary, tasting notes, beer festivals, and more daily fun.  America's bestselling beer calendar—now with 1.3 million copies in print—is back with a year of recommendations for every season and occasion. Crack open an Amra Mango IPA, boasting a lush fruitiness  balanced by its dry finish. Or the New Glarus Flanders Sour, with  tartness, malt, and hints of chocolate for a stellar interpretation of a classic style. Plus Craft Ingredients, Beer Trivia, food pairings, Dogfish Head Mixed Media and other brews to win over your wine-drinking friends, and Winston Churchill's strong words on Prohibition: "An affront to the whole history of mankind."  Some of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise there are few Canadian brews included. Lights, wheat, lagers, ales, porters, stouts, seasonal beers, and lambrics – they're all here, 165 or so craft beers. If you buy any of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other, free stuff, at 

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