Cookbooks for Holiday Cooking & Baking

Between shopping, parties, wrapping and other festive activities, somehow we all manage to bake delicious treats and plan totally knock-out meals for the holidays. For those who are new to baking and cooking or would like some ideas to shake things up, I’ve compiled a list of holiday favorites. It’s December 12th, every year I promise I will start holiday baking earlier – well the clock is ticking and if I don’t start soon – I’ll be cursing cookies and throwing fudge at anyone who enters my work area two days before the big day – so I’m off to practice what I preach – or maybe I’ll start tomorrow.  

Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities by Nigella Lawson is one of the first titles I think of at this time of year. Nigella’s no-nonsense approach coupled with her inspirational ideas can help us plan ahead. Her recipes are still approachable during this joyous, but fully packed and fast paced season and with her help our urges to dive face first into the eggnog vat and be abated. Nigella makes everything look easy and effortless, our zen mother (well more like gorgeous sister) guiding us along the way. Over the years, I’ve copied her style in my own home from white twinkling lights throughout the house (even during non-holiday periods) to popping little green evergreens from the craft store on my plate of holiday cookies and occasionally sneaking a bite of the leftovers by the light of the fridge. 

Delia’s Happy Christmas by Delia Smith shares the author’s 40 years of experience in this definitive guide to cooking for Christmas. This book aids in the planning of Christmas festivities by sharing 150 recipes, including 100 new recipes and 50 much-loved classics, plus menu plans and shopping lists, and is illustrated with beautiful photographs. I love the simple beauty of the cover, itself. I have several of Delia’s titles and they have never failed me. 
Christmas 101, Revised and Updated: Celebrate the Holiday Season from Christmas to New Years by Rick Rodgers is another to-go title from this prolific cookbook author. This title offers guaranteed recipes of old favorites, menus, timetables, make-ahead tips, and more. From fabulous cocktail parties and traditional buffets, cooking a perfect roast, and spicing up your favorite recipes with a contemporary twist – it’s all included. Rick’s books are classics and a few of his latests are becoming fast favorites of mine – Flavors of Aloha and Flavors of the Southern Coast. These titles can be purchased at the Tommy Bahama site
Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection: Over 100 of My Fabulous Recipes and Tips for a Hassle-Free Festive Season by Mary Berry combines time-honoured festive favourites with a variety of new and exciting dishes to spice up the season. By taking the traditional Christmas fare and giving it a twist, Mary adds sparkle to every celebration. Simple yet reliable recipes and Mary’s handy hints will take the pressure off entertaining, whether it’s for the big day itself, a Boxing Day crowd or an intimate New Year family gathering. With a Christmas Day countdown, sample menus, shopping lists and ever-popular tips on preparing ahead and freezing, this is the must-have companion to the festive season.

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook by Jamie Oliver is packed with all the classics you need for the big day and beyond, as well as loads of delicious recipes for edible gifts, party food and new ways to love those leftovers. It’s everything you need for Christmas. Straight talk from the author himself, “I’ve got all the bases covered, with everything you need for the big day and any feasting meals over the festive period, as well as party fare, edible gifts, teatime treats, cocktails and, of course, exciting ways to embrace and celebrate those leftovers. You’ll also find all the deeply important technical info you need, such as cooking charts, and wherever possible, I’ve designed the recipes to be cooked at the same oven temperature, so you can be efficient with time and oven space, and it’ll be super-easy for you to mix and match the different elements and build your own perfect Christmas meal.”

The Christmas Table: Recipes and Crafts to Create Your Own Holiday Tradition by Diane Morgan is a book that gets many a mention in The Cookbook Junkies group. Morgan serves up comfort and joy with helpful hints and recipes to plan an unforgettable holiday feast with festive recipes and decorating ideas that are sure to become favorites. Cinnamon-Scented Bread Custard, Juniper Brined Roast Turkey and Whipped Yams topped with a Crunchy Praline Crust can become yuletide classics with the author’s recipes. Christmas cookies, candied nuts, and other giftable goodies are included.
Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Joan Nathan  is a tour through the Jewish holidays as told in food. For each holiday, Nathan presents menus from different cuisines – Moroccan, Russian, German, and contemporary American are just a few that show how the traditions of Jewish food have taken on new forms around the world. There are dishes that you will remember from your mother’s table and dishes that go back to the Second Temple, family recipes that you thought were lost and other families’ recipes that you have yet to discover. Explaining their origins and the holidays that have shaped them, Nathan spices these delicious recipes with delightful stories about the people who have kept these traditions alive. 
A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking: The 10th Anniversary Edition by Marcy Goldman is the updated edition of a kitchen classic, with 30 new recipes for favorite savory holiday dishes. Professional pastry chef and creator, Goldman, has assembled a comprehensive collection of easy-to-follow, time-tested recipes from sweet raisin challah for Rosh Hashanah to apricot-filled Hamantaschen for Purim and velvety Shabbat marble cake. All of Marcy Goldman’s books are keepers and are in my collection.  
by Jeanne Sauvage shares 60 gluten-free recipes with all the flavors of their wheat-filled counterparts. Also included are tips on how wheat-free ingredients work and Jeanne’s own gluten-free flour mix. With favorites like apple pie, plum pudding, rugelach, bûche de Noël – even a gingerbread hous – everyone can pull up a chair to the holiday table with comfort and joy. Jeanne’s website is a go-to for those with gluten-free needs.
Happy Cooking and Baking. I hope everyone has a wonderful, peaceful holiday season. 

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