Cooking companions for this festive season

Get your print copy of the Dec 8 Sunday Star for a 25% discount coupon on these cookbooks. Look for the coupon in StarLifestyle.
Whether you’re looking to add more vegetables to your diet, bake delicious sweet treats or cook up a storm this holiday period, there’s a cookbook here for you.

Christmas Feasts And Treats

: Donna Hay

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Price: RM109.90

Prolific Australian cookbook author and television personality Donna Hay’s latest book is a bona fide Christmas miracle.

This repository of easy, cheat’s edition Christmas recipes will make you feel all warm and tingly inside as you go through page after page laden with holiday recipes like glazed root vegetable tarte tartin, spice-rubbed roast duck with cherry sauce, ginger-brined roast turkey with pear and potato tartin, cheat’s glazed ham, prosciutto- wrapped baby carrots, gingerbread, sherry and caramel trifle, and Christmas cake.

All the recipes are designed to be made quickly so you won’t end up sweating in the kitchen as you labour over an intensive meal come Christmas day. Instead, with Hay’s repertoire of Christmas treats in hand, you can expect to relax with the family, wine in hand, as your easy-peasy, delicious meals lie on the table, waiting to be eaten.
Duchess At Home

Author: Giselle Courteau

Publisher: Appetite

Price: RM141

In Canada, Giselle Courteau is something of a baking legend, having co-founded the hugely popular Duchess Bake Shop. In this cookbook (her sophomore effort), readers are given a look at all the things she loves baking at home for her family and friends.

Recipes in the book run the gamut from special occasion cakes, like sunshine cake, as well as fun bakes like cheese twists, mincemeat stars and apple turnovers.

Many of the recipes also pay homage to Courteau’s French heritage (her ancestors travelled to Canada in 1685). So you’ll discover recipes you may previously not have heard of like tourtiere de lac-Saint-Jean (a French-Canadian savoury meat pie) and galette des rois.

Ultimately, this is the sort of cookbook you’ll likely use and re-use over and over again even as the pages become flour-stained and dog-eared, because everything looks so beautiful and elegant and yet strangely do-able. So if you’re after a cookbook that’s likely to be passed down through the family for generations to come, this one’s a keeper.
Fraiche Food, Full Hearts

Authors: Jillian Harris & Tori Wesszer

Publisher: Penguin

Price: RM150.50

This family-centric cookbook was written by cousins Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer who grew up around the corner from each other. The cousins’ closeness is bolstered by their tight-knit extended family; as the authors explain, all the major festivals and occasions are typically spent together.

As they grew older, both women began espousing a more vegetable- friendly diet, something that is evident in this heartwarming cookbook, which features recipes like maple-thyme roasted parsnips and carrots, mushroom Wellington, barbecue vegan jackfruit pulled-pork sliders and coconut cauliflower tacos with pineapple salsa.

The book is dotted with images of the photogenic cousins’ equally photogenic family which gives it a lovely homey feel. On top of this, the food photography is very clean, modern and gorgeous, which makes it a great contemporary book to gift family and friends looking for family-style plant-

forward meals.
Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter

Author: Nigel Slater

Publisher: 4th Estate

Price: RM145.90

This is the second book in award-winning British journalist Nigel Slater’s Greenfeast titles. While the first book focused on vegetable-centric recipes designed around spring and summer, this edition focuses on warming, nourishing plant-based meals to sate the soul during colder seasons.

As Malaysians, we enjoy tropical weather all-year round, of course, yet many of these recipes will resonate with local readers looking for soothing, vegetable-friendly meals to whip up as a monsoon brews outside. So when you hear thunder rumbling in the distance, turn to this cookbook and look up delicious dishes like artichokes, beans and green olives or beetroot, apple and goat’s curd on hot toast.

Slater’s mastery of vegetables is evident in the way he fuses different – seemingly incompatible – ingredients together so deftly that you’ll find yourself wondering “Why didn’t I think of that?” This is particularly evident with recipes like mushrooms, hummus and herbs; and a creamy cheddar, cider and mustard soup.

But perhaps the icing on this wonderful book is how beautifully – nay, poetically – Slater describes his meals. Reading lines like “golden mushrooms astride a cloud of soft, yellow polenta” will make you so ravenous, you’ll find yourself rushing to make these dishes. Also, if your new year’s resolution is to introduce more vegetables into your diet, Slater’s book will make a handy little addition on your bookshelves.
Living Bread

Daniel Leader

Publisher: Avery

Price: RM188

Renowned baker Daniel Leader is something of a mythical figure in the world of baking. The owner of Bread Alone, an acclaimed bakery in New York which he opened in 1983, Leader is an avid student of bread – a fact which becomes very obvious in this tome on bread in all its permutations.

The book includes narratives and conversations about bread, driven by Leader’s encounters with some of the world’s best bread-makers ranging from Richard Ruan of La Boulangerie Des Carmes in France to Heinz Weichardt of Weichardt Brot in Germany.

It is clear that a lot of work has gone into the book, which involves thought-provoking analyses of technological advances in making bread as well as serious baker’s terminology like seed soakers, pre-

ferments and autolyse.

Recipes in the book cover a panoply of baked goods ranging from vegan brioche to wurzlaib and pane giallo. The bottom line is, if you’ve always wanted to learn how to make bread or if you’re a professional baker looking to up your skill set and knowledge base, there is no better – or more current – book on bread than this.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier

Author: Ree Drummond

Publisher: William Morrow

Price: RM129.90

Ree Drummond’s rise to fame has been nothing short of meteoric. It began with a blog titled Confess-ions Of A Pioneer Woman over 10 years ago, continued with cookbook deals and, eventually, even her own television show, The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network.

Drummond’s identity is very entrenched in her ranch woman persona, and the recipes in this book champion that country-living ethos. So you’ll find a plethora of comfort food the likes of a Tex-Mex sheet pan breakfast, fried tomato sandwich, creamy chicken and wild rice soup, Parmesan fish sticks and bunless chilli cheeseburger. It is heartening to see that Drum-mond is moving with the times and making allusions to the zeitgeist for low-carb, plant-based meals with recipes like portobello bun burgers and fajita veggie zucchini boats.

On the downside, while the step-by-step pictorial guides for all the recipes are extremely useful, the images in the book aren’t all that appetising, especially given how far food photography and styling have come.

But if you’re willing to look past that and simply want a cookbook filled with mostly comfort food to feed your family, this will do nicely.
Weeknight Baking: Recipes To Fit Your Schedule

Author: Michelle Lopez

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Price: RM169.90

Michelle Lopez is the creative mind behind baking blog Hummingbird High. With nearly 150,000 followers on Instagram, the former financial analyst has come a long way from her early days of whipping up cupcakes for her friends. After years of troubleshooting and experimenting, Lopez has developed a repertoire of fail-proof recipes for home bakers of all stripes.

The interesting thing about this book is that it’s designed for weeknight baking, meaning nearly all the recipes are simple things you could put together in minutes (like a chocolate chip cookie recipe with just five ingredients!) or can assemble over a few busy weeknights (time estimates are given for all the recipes).

And, by God, everything in this book sounds delicious! Lopez does not stinge on ingredients or ideas, so you’ll find recipes like jammie pie bars, magic dream lemon cream tart and banana cream pie.

Perhaps the only letdown is that there aren’t enough images to accompany Lopez’s elaborately detailed recipes, tips and tricks. And let’s face it, cakes and other baked goods often look better in pictures than in one’s imagination.

Having said that, this will likely be a good investment for aspiring home bakers looking to amp up their baking repertoire without having to think too hard about the time investment required to put each treat together.
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