A different kind of Christmas cookie.
You have to love a book that invites you to bake a different cookie every day in the lead up to Christmas.
Indulging in a different, freshly baked treat every day? What could be better?
That’s just the premise of “Cookie Advent Cookbook” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The cookbook is by Virginia Van Vynckt and Barbara Grunes, two authors who are avowed cookie lovers.
Kids will love the cover of the book, depicting a Christmas tree laden with 24 ornaments. Lift up the flap on each ornament to uncover a tiny illustration of the “cookie of the day.”
The cookies are standard classics for the most part, such as “Swedish Thumbprints,” “Candy Cane Cookies,” and “Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti.”
I gravitated toward one of the slightly more unusual ones, “Green Tea Lemon Wafers.” These are a breeze to make because the flour, sugar, egg and butter get cooked on the stovetop in a saucepan.
A tart full of tender apples and delicate custard.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
Me? I’m grateful for good health, great friends and family, and a writing career, that though a wild roller-coaster ride at times, has brought enormous satisfaction, wonderful opportunities, and a contingent of loyal, supportive readers who are the very best anyone could ever ask for.
And I’m glad for “Apple Custard Tart.” Because it’s equally delicious and appropriate for the Thanksgiving feast or for the lazy, spent morning after.
Don’t rush out to the mall that Friday. Instead, enjoy a slice of this pretty tart with a cup of coffee or tea, and a retelling of the fun, delightful moments that happened during the holiday night before.
This straightforward recipe is from “Butter Celebrates! Delicious Recipes For Special Occasions” (Knopf), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Rosie Daykin, owner of Butter Baked Goods in Vancouver.
Mint chip ice cream made with plenty of fresh mint leaves.
When I was a kid, Baskin-Robbins may have touted its 31 ice creams.
But in my book, there were only two that really mattered.
Chocolate chip. And mint chip.
OK, so my palate was not very expansive at that time.
But I knew what I liked.
And to me, you couldn’t go wrong with vanilla ice cream with crunchy bits of dark chocolate throughout. Or its green cousin with an unmistakable hue and a taste as invigorating as a light wind blowing across your face on a warm summer afternoon.
As an adult now, I still love those two flavors. But I am more finicky. I so appreciate a mint ice cream that gets its flavor from real mint leaves, not just a bottle of mint extract.
So when I spied this recipe for “Mint Chip Ice Cream” that infuses a heavy cream-milk base with a heap of fresh mint leaves, I was smitten from the get-go.
It’s from the new cookbook, “There’s Always Room For Chocolate: Recipes from Brooklyn’s The Chocolate Room” (Rizzoli), of which I received a review copy.
Simple and not-too sweet. A perfect pick-me-up with Chinese tea.
This cake is like the vanilla wafer of cookies.
Its appeal lies in its plainness, simplicity, and for me, its nostalgic taste.
Other kids may have grown up with snack cakes baked in a square or rectangular pan in the flavors of chocolate, vanilla or apple spice.
But I grew up eating this pale golden sponge cake that was steamed, and bought by my Mom at Chinatown bakeries. It usually came in tall squares or big wedges, its interior sporting tiny, airy bubbles. I could never resist squishing a corner of it between my fingers before taking a bite.
It was the polar opposite of a birthday cake. It was unadorned, plain-Jane, and hardly sweet at all. But unlike birthday cake, I didn’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy it, just a regular trip by my Mom to pick up other provisions in Chinatown. She brought it home in the familiar pink box tied with red twine that I tore into the moment she walked through the door.
I have eaten countless squares of that cake, yet I never knew it included a rather surprising ingredient: soy sauce.
That is, until I spotted a recipe for it in the new cookbook, “All Under Heaven” (Ten Speed Press and McSweeney’s), of which I received a review copy.
A lovely, lively grain salad to enjoy any time.
Grain salads and grain bowls are so very trending now.
Which is a wonderful development, given that we should all try to eat more grains because they are rich in nutrients. Plus, it doesn’t take a lot to get you full for quite awhile.
I love farro, an ancient wheat grain that cooks up delightfully chewy with a subtle toasted nutty flavor. It’s high in fiber, Vitamin B3 and zinc, too.
Normally, I cook it like risotto. But summer’s warm weather had me eyeing this recipe for “Farro Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, and Pistachios.”
It’s from the new cookbook, “One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The book is by cooking school teacher and caterer, Carla Snyder.