If you buy recipe books not necessarily to cook but to drool at the pictures or if you go from website to website to look at food pictures chances you are a food voyeur. And what better time than Christmas for finding some inspirations? Whether you will prepare a big dinner or not, we know the best cookbooks can be enjoyed for lots of reasons: fine writing, a spot of social or cultural history. And just occasionally, we might even try some of the dishes.
The cream of the crop
Picture books? History? Chef extravaganzas? You’ll find all of these below. Here are the crunchiest books for this festive season according to the CrunchyTales team, packed with excellent recipes, absorbing writing, and wonderful images.
There’s no Christmas quite like a Donna Hay Christmas! Cooking at Christmas time can be a little bit daunting but this book is filled with Donna’s most trusted recipes. In a celebration of the way Christmas brings new and old traditions together, she walks us through the classics, with her gorgeous modern styling ideas and quick-fix shortcuts along the way. There’s chic inspiration for starters and sides, plus loads of options for the big four: glazed ham, succulent turkey, roast pork and grilled lobster. Turn the pages and you’ll find puffs of meringue, sugar-spun caramels, soft gingerbread, shimmering trifle and show-stopping icy desserts. Let this beautiful book be your guide this year, to a very memorable (and relaxed!) Christmas.
Roasted nuts and vegetables, fragrant citrus and cloves, jeweled lingonberries and cardamom buns fresh from the oven – these are the delights that make a Scandinavian vegan Christmas. In Happy Vegan Christmas, Karoline Joensson presents a merry smorgasbord of plant-based Christmas dishes guaranteed to enchant friends and family. Instead of the usual bubble and squeak, here we find vegan classics to satisfy all guests, such as vegan Swedish meatballs, spiced cabbage pudding, pulled ‘pork’ with jackfruit, pickled courgette, potato and greens pie, sticky buffalo cauliflower, nutty ‘egg’ nog, gingerbread biscuits and chewy panforte. The book includes recipes for baked treats, delicious drinks to keep you warm during the winter nights, and plenty of dishes for a Christmas buffet – to keep you going until New Year! Also included are some crafty ideas to try out during the holiday, such as cultivating winter flowers indoors or making a candle centrepiece, a dried citrus festoon, a wreath, and a wild bird feeder. Inspired by both classic Scandinavian Christmas cooking, as well as seasonal dishes from around the world, this is an indispensable treasure trove for the vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian foodie. Chapters include: Winter food; Treats and Bakes; Drinks; The Christmas buffet; To the New Year.
Christmas at Highclere: Recipes and traditions from the real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon
Highclere Castle, known as ‘the real Downton Abbey’, bustles with activity at the best of times, but it is never more alive than at Christmas. Christmas at Highclere is a look behind the scenes at the routines and rituals that make the castle the most magical place to be throughout the festive season. Lady Carnarvon will guide you through Advent, Christmas preparations and Christmas Eve all the way through to the day itself, and beyond. Learn how the castle and grounds are transformed by decorations, including the raising of a twenty-foot tree in the saloon, the gathering of holly and mistletoe from the grounds. All the intricacies of the perfect traditional Christmas are here: from crackers and carol singers. The festive feeling is carried through to Highclere’s Boxing Day traditions, the restorative middle days and the New Year’s Eve celebrations. This book also tells the story of historic Christmases at Highclere – of distinguished guests warming themselves by the fire after a long journey home through the snow, unexpected knocks on the door, and, always, the joy of bringing the family – and staff – together after a busy year. As well as telling the stories of Highclere Christmases past and present, Lady Carnarvon provides recipes, tips, and inspiration from her kitchen so that readers can bring a quintessentially British festive spirit to their own home. Lady Carnarvon divulges the secret to perfectly flakey mince pies, the proper way to wrap presents so that you and your guests are guaranteed a Christmas to remember. Lavish, celebratory and utterly enchanting, Christmas at Highclere is a celebration of one of the UK’s most beloved historic houses and is the perfect gift for any Downton Abbey fan.
In this extra-special updated edition of Mary Berry’s popular entertaining cookbook, Mary makes cooking for gatherings of family and friends easy, with over 160 recipes that work well for both small and large numbers of guests.
Lavish new photography and bonus festive recipes make this edition a precious self-purchase or an ideal gift for any Mary fan. You’ll discover how Mary cooks for her family and friends during the Christmas party season, and for other occasions and celebrations throughout the year. Her timeless guidance and expert tips will help you cater smoothly and successfully on a small scale for dinners and lunches around a table, or on a larger scale for drink parties, buffets and teatime. Adapting quantities is made easy. Recipes provide two sets of ingredients for serving either 6 or 12 guests, plus there is new advice on how to scale up recipes for any number. Discover tips for preparing in advance, simple shortcuts and stylish presentation ideas – and cook up a feast the stress-free way with Mary.
Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
Are you throwing a Christmas brunch? This brilliantly revisited and beautifully rephotographed book is the perfect one for you. It is a totally updated edition of a go-to classic for home and professional bakers―from one of the most acclaimed and inspiring bakeries in the world. Tartine offers more than 50 new recipes that capture the invention and, above all, deliciousness that Tartine is known for―including their most requested recipe, the Morning Bun. Favourites from the original book are here, too, revamped to speak to our tastes today and to include whole-grain and/or gluten-free variations, as well as intriguing new ingredients and global techniques. More than 150 drop-dead gorgeous photographs from acclaimed team Gentl + Hyers make this compendium a true collectable and must-have for bakers of all skill levels.