New Year's Eve drinks - with and without alcohol

There is one more big party left before we begin our resolutions for the new year, and many of us will be celebrating with champagne flute in hand as the clock strikes twelve on December 31. There are plenty of excellent cocktails that incorporate champagne or other sparkling wines to make the celebration special.

Twinkle cocktail

While bubbly will be imbibed at countless parties the world over, a growing number of people are choosing not to consume alcohol. This trend has fueled renewed interest in "mocktails", but today's non-alcoholic drinks are a far cry from the same Shirley Temples of yesteryear. The new breed of mocktails have sophisticated flavor combinations that rival the best mixed drinks. Not only do they taste great, they can be enjoyed all evening long without any fear of the dreaded hangover. Companies like Seedlip are even developing distilled non-alcoholic "spirits" for this purpose. 

Whether you are ringing in the new year with alcohol or not, the EYB Library is full of recipes for drinks both bubbly and still that will please you and your guests. The list below is a small sampling of drinks that would be perfect for a New Year's Eve bash:

Cocktails

Mocktails

The origins of favorite Christmas foods

Although it seems like Christmas food traditions have always existed, that's far from being the case. While some foods have been associated with the holiday for hundreds of years, often these traditional foods only date back a few decades. How did these traditions begin in the first place? That's a question answered in an enlightening article from indexed blog Great British Chefs

Christmas pudding

Turkeys are the meat most often consumed at Christmas dinner in the UK. Why turkey and not chicken or beef? Frugality seems to be the answer here. Before turkeys became the go-to bird for the main feast, geese featured as the main course. That's because while chickens produced eggs year-round and cows produced milk, geese only laid eggs seasonally and were therefore more expendable. Additionally, a goose goes a lot further than a chicken, and it's impractical to slaughter a cow just for one meal. The switch to turkeys came about in the mid-20th century, as people started buying birds instead of raising them and imported turkeys from the US became widely available.

Christmas pudding is another dish that has undergone a transformation from its origins in the late 16th century. Back then it consisted mainly of beef shin combined with spices, sugar and fruit, boiled in a broth until gelatinous. Fast forward to the mid-19th century and we first see something that resemble today's pudding, made with flour, fruit, sugar, and spices, with beef suet being the link to the original version. 

Photo of Christmas pudding with citrus & spice from BBC Good Food Magazine

Edible gift ideas and tips

A lot of us will be making gifts from the kitchen to give to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and others on our gift lists (don't forget the host/hostess of that great holiday party!). While many people give baked goods including cookies, quickbreads, and candies, there are savoury options, homemade liqueurs, and other easy yet impressive items that make excellent presents. 

apple cider caramels

Gourmet salts are both unique and easy to make. You can try citrus infused salt or a rosemary, orange and thyme version. Indexed website The Kitchn offers a great tutorial on making various flavored salts, featuring all manner of flavors from herbs and spices to chile peppers,  edible flowers, tea leaves or powder, mushrooms, and  dehydrated fruits and vegetables. 

Keeping with the easy-to-make theme (which equals less holiday stress), Sam Worley of Epicurious offers tips and tricks to make edible presents easier. The key, says Sam Worley, is to "think big." He's not talking about the size of the gifts, but rather about items that can be made in large batches, optimally with minimal efforts. Ideas that fall into this category include homemade granola, chocolate truffles (a big win for their low effort-to-reward ratio), and caramels.  

No matter what type of edible gift you choose to make, the EYB Library is chock full of DIY recipes. You'll find thousands of recipes for jams, jellies and preservescookiescandies; and homemade liqueurs. My favorite homemade gift to give is English toffee, similar to this recipe - what's yours?

Photo of Apple cider caramels from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Love for latkes

Latkes are among the many traditional foods that will make an appearance on tables during Hanukkah, which began today. Epicurious offers tips on how to make perfect potato latkes to ensure that each one is light, crispy, and delicious. Follow these steps and your friends and family will be asking for this classic holiday treat year-round.

latkes

After testing different types of potatoes, Epicurious found that russets work best. Their high starch content means they are less watery and don't require a binder. Speaking of water, you want to make sure you squeeze as much as possible out your latkes before frying to make sure they achieve maximum crispness. 

After you have shaped your potato mixture, the next crucial step is frying. Using the right amount of fat is important so that the latkes don't stick to the pan or become too greasy. Epicurious recommends a  combination of vegetable oil and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) to boost the flavor of your latkes.

The EYB Library has plenty of latke recipes both traditional and innovative. Here is a sampling to get you started:

Latkes from Jerusalem by  Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Potato latkes with apple-date chutney and cinnamon sour cream from Leite's Culinaria

Parsnip-celery root latkes from EatingWell Magazine (pictured above)
Crispy potato latkes from 'The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home' by Michael Zusman and Nick Zukin
Herb and scallion latkes from The Kitchn
Sweet potato latkes with spiked applesauce from Crossroads by  Tal Ronnen and Scot Jones and Serafina Magnussen

A vegetarian holiday table

As more and more people choose to eat less meat or no meat at all for health and ethical consideration, planning holiday meals gets increasingly complex. It can be a challenge to find hearty, festive dishes that will be an appropriate substitute for what is often a meat-heavy meal and that will also please everyone including the omnivores. However, recipe websites are responding to these constraints, including Australian Gourmet Traveller, which has assembled a collection of vegetarian recipes that will be right at home on your Christmas table. 

beetroot mezzalune

The collection includes hearty recipes that will stand in for main dishes, such as Roast pumpkin wedges with almond, goat's cheese and tahini dressing and a Cauliflower and saffron gratin. There are also many salads that will satisfy everyone, including a colorful and refreshing Watermelon fruit salad with ice-cream and raspberry-pepper salad, and the vibrant green Blistered kale ribs with kale-leaf and quinoa salad. One recipe that really appealed to me was the gorgeous Beetroot and carrot mezzalune with leek, hazelnut and poppy seeds pictured above. 

The holidays aren't complete without sweet treats to round out the meal. You'll find plenty in this list, like the Dessert wine sabayon with cherries and pistachios (also appropriate colored in red and green), and the Masala carrot cake that puts a new twist on an old favorite. 

Holiday gifts from your favorite authors

Jenny has already provided her comprehensive lists of holiday gifts for cooks and cookbook lovers. In addition, we have compiled a list featuring holiday hampers and more from popular chefs and cookbook authors around the world. Many of these sites offer special discounts for first-time buyers or have sales going on now just in time for the holidays. 

These gifts would be a delight for any food or cookbook lover to unwrap. If you know of any sites that we've missed, let us know in the comments and we'll add them to the post. 

UK

Ottolenghi Christmas - food items including hampers that contain copies of Simple or Sweet, plus many of the ingredients for recipes in his books
Honey & Co - signed cookbooks, gift boxes, jams, spices, kitchenware
River Cottage - aprons, knives, towels, vouchers for cookery classes, and of course cookbooks
ScandiKitchen Christmas - all types of Scandinavian treats, organized by country (visit their main page to find ingredients perfect for baking through The Nordic Cookbook!)
Spice Kitchen - spice collections and cookbooks
Sous Chef - gift hampers built around cookbooks including several baking sets

USA

Eataly (Lidia Bastianich) - food gift baskets, many for specific Italian regions
Thomas Keller  - essential kitchen tools, clothing, signed cookbooks, and restaurant gifts
Food52 - essential tools, cookware, cookbooks, linens and more - there's something for everyone
Matt & Ted Lee - essential Southern foods like Carolina Gold rice, sorghum, and pickled green beans
Maureen Abood - various Lebanese ingredients
Ming Tsai - tools, cookbooks, food & spices
Christopher Kimball's Milk Street - spices, specialty kitchen tools, and more
CookNSolo (Michael Solomonov) - cookbooks, apparel, gift cards to Zahav, Federal Donuts, and Rooster Soup Co.
King Arthur Flour - if you plan to make homemade gifts from the kitchen, they stock paper baking pans, bottles for cordials, extracts or syrups, and more

AUSTRALIA

Maggie Beer - several Christmas hampers ranging from simple to decadent
Donna Hay - these hampers include tools and tableware along with cookbooks - the Modern Baking gift sets are divine
Cornersmith - hampers featuring pickled products + cookbooks
Pamper Hampers - gift hampers built around cookbooks featuring authors like Neil Perry and Pete Evans

NEW ZEALAND

Annabel Langbein - signed cookbooks, aprons, kitchen tools, and more

Celebrate National Bundt Day

Today is National Bundt Day (an offically-named celebration day here in Minnesota, birthplace of the Bundt). The iconic pan was invented in the late 1950s by Nordic Ware founder H. David (Dave) Dahlquist. According to the Nordic Ware website, Dave and his wife Dorothy (Dotty), created the Nordic Ware company in 1948. You can read more about the birth of the Bundt in Jenny's post from earlier this year.

bundt cake

Like many businesses, it was built on a shoestring and sheer determination. Nordic Ware's fledgling product line included mainly specialty Scandinavian ethnic cookware products-the Rosette iron, Krumkake iron, Platte Panne pan, and the Ebelskiver pan. The Bundt came along later, and floundered until 1966, when the "Tunnel of Fudge" cake, baked in a Bundt pan, was a winner in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. The rest is history - delicious and beautiful history.

Nordic Ware is offering a special deal on Bundt pans until 11:59 p.m. US Central Time - you can get a free cake mix or if you purchase two Bundt pans, you will get a free Bundt cookbook. You can find several books featuring bundt cakes and bundt cake recipes galore in the EYB Library, including these favorites:


I'm partial to the Bavaria Bundt pan shape shown above, but I also like the Heritage Bundt and the Crown Bundt. What's your favorite bundt shape?

Gift Guide for Cookbook Lovers, Cooks and Bakers 2018

The season of giving is upon us. All year, I've been making notes for this gift guide to share with you books and products that I have bought, reviewed and love. My various gift guides from years' past can be found at the links below.

Any cookbooks on my Fall Cookbooks preview post, I whole-heartedly recommend especially Israeli SoulEveryday Dorie, and Estela. These titles are must-have for cooks and bakers (I will not repeat all the titles here). Books featured in our EYBD Program are great ideas for cookbook lovers because they also share the added benefit of digital access to the titles through EYB for your gift recipient. The EYBD book page shares links to previews, promotions (including giveaways with products I love), events and more.

Gifts for the Baker

Rose Levy Beranbaum has designed a wonderful collection of baking products that work! I covered a few of these products in our promotion for her latest book. Since that post, I have used two of these items religiously in my kitchen:  Rose's Magic Non-Stick Rolling Pin and Rose's Magic Dough Pastry Mat. This rolling pin really does the job without having to add flour and is super easy to clean up. The same can be said for the mat. If you are a baker or you know a baker - one of these items with Rose's book is a great gift.  

The KitchenAid Scale + Sifter attachment (UK link); is another genius product from KitchenAid. I treated myself to this attachment and have been having a great time using it. Other KitchenAid products, I love include, of course, the stand mixer itself, the vegetable sheeter, the ice cream maker, pasta attachments, spiralizer (curly fries!), and the mixer attachment pack

Every baker needs a good scale, the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display (UK linkCA link) is the stand alone type I recommend. One of the things that has helped me the most in the kitchen since I've been baking several times a week is being organized. I cannot say enough about OXO's Good Grips 10-Piece Airtight Food Storage POP Container (UK link; CA link). I have a set of these as well as four of the 4 quart size (UK link; CA link) for flours, sugars and more.

Another OXO product I have been enjoying is the OXO jelly roll pan (UK link; CA link) that we are featuring in our promotion for Pie Squared, Cathy Barrow's latest (and a part of our EYBD program). Bake up a recipe from this fantastic book in an OXO pan, wrap up the book, and you have the perfect hostess gift this season. 

Give someone you love a subscription to Bake from Scratch - my favorite baking magazine. This gift will provide a year's worth of inspiration as do any of their books on baking, cakes or breads

Mauviel is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. Their copper mixing bowl and stand or their new individual souffles set my heart aflutter. Every girl wants something shiny under the tree, and this girl wants Mauviel. For your holiday cooking and roasting, the Mauviel roaster is perfect. Look for a promotion soon for one of these gorgeous copper roasters.

Other ideas for the baker: 

Cookbooks for the Baker from 2018:


For the cook who has almost everything:



The Instant Pot multicooker is sweeping the world but did you know they make a Sous Vide, an incredibly priced sous vide that works just as well as models twice the price. I've used this product several times with great results. (UK link; CA link)

The latest from Instant Pot is their 8 Qt Aura Pro Multi-Use Programmable Multicooker with Sous Vide. I hope to be able to bring you a promotion soon on one of Instant Pot's sous vide products and will be providing a full review of the Aura Pro. (CA link)

Cookbooks for the Sous Vide from 2018:

Of course, an Instant Pot® (7-in-1) multi-cooker (UK link; CA link) is the tool every busy cook needs. Their newest products include the 6 quart 10-in-1 (with more functions) and the 8 quart 7-in-1 which is perfect for bigger jobs. For dorm rooms and smaller needs, the 3 quart, 7-in-1 mini duo is adorable and a perfect fit. My review on the mini pot can be found here. When deals for these products are available, we will be sure to let our members know and, of course, our Black Friday post will be available soon. Keep checking our Facebook page for updates. Next week, we'll have a promotion available for two of Ivy Manning's books and one of Instant Pot's multicookers! 

In January, I did a summary of our favorite Instant Pot books. This year there has been an influx of new exciting titles which include: 

Le Creuset is and will always be my first love. Every serious cook needs a piece of Le Creuset. This pot will last a lifetime, will be a workhorse in your kitchen and look great on top of it all. Check out our current promotion to find more information about Le Creuset and enter our giveaway to win a gorgeous Indigo Dutch Oven with Kate McDermott's Home Cooking.  Right now I'm obsessing over the Tartan design available at Williams Sonoma and hoping Santa has me on his nice list (I need to figure out how to hack that list).

Staub cast iron cookware is another wonderful option for gift giving. Staub comes in a variety of sizes and colors and they have the most adorable knobs that are as addictive as the cookware.

The fishsnailroostercowrabbit and pig knobs are whimiscal and would be a welcomed gift for those who already have Le Creuset or Staub (they are interchangeable) or as a stocking stuffer if Santa already has a dutch oven under the tree. Check out our current promotion for The Staub Cookbook and skillet and enter our giveaway. I am now infatuated with Staub's special holiday pot pictured to the left - it screams holidays. The Staub wood trivet is another great stocking stuffer and keeps your hot pot perfectly planted with no slipping.

My new favorite cutlery is Shun. The Shun premier chef's knife is the knife. I love the feel, weight and precision of Shun cutlery. We will be having a promotion very soon for this stunning knife. 

Emile Henry stoneware looks great on your table and produces perfect results for all your baking needs. Look for a promotion soon for a covered loaf pan! One of my favorite pieces is their potato pot. This stoneware delivers potatoes that are crispy all over - shake the pot instead of flippin (this piece can also be used for bread).

Besides cookware or a good knife, the item in my kitchen that gets the most use is my Zojirushi BB-PDC20BA Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker. I confess I only use the dough cycle on this machine but it is a lifesaver. I make a batch of bagels every week and many yeasted dough baked goods - and the dough cycle makes this portion of baking easy work. We will have a promotion for this beauty coupled with Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Sweet and Decadent Baking for Every Occasion

Cookbooks from 2018

Any cookbooks on my Fall Cookbooks preview post, I whole-heartedly recommend especially Israeli SoulEveryday Dorie, and Estela. These titles are must-have for cooks and bakers (I will not repeat all the titles here). Books featured in our EYBD Program are great ideas for cookbook lovers because they also share the added benefit of digital access to the titles through EYB for your gift recipient. The EYBD book page shares links to previews, promotions (including giveaways with products I love), events and more.

In addition, the following titles that would make any cookbook lover happy:

And of course, give the gift that keeps on giving a Gift Certificate to Eat Your Books. We are running a contest right now, buy a gift certificate and be entered to win one of three sets of five cookbooks from 2018. 

Also, please remember to link from EYB before making any purchase on Amazon.  We earn a small affiliate fee for every purchase made in the next 24 hours after you click through to the Amazon site from any 'Buy Book' link in the EYB Library. Our affiliate store links can be directly accessed here Amazon USAmazon CA  and Amazon UK  with the same result. Our home page also shares our affiliate links on the right sidebar.  Remember, the more income we make, the more books we can index!

How to eliminate Thanksgiving menu planning frustrations

I will be the first to admit that I am a terrible menu planner. Either I don't start the process early enough, or I amass too many possibilities and have difficulty narrowing down the list. I also forget to check whether the timing of the foods I have selected works - it's no good when you have to do last minute things to each and every dish. If you suffer from the same problems, I have found some resources to help us both with planning our Thanksgiving menus.

Thanksgiving table

Food52 has a nifty tool they call the Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker. You answer a few questions, like whether you want a traditional turkey, want to try a different technique, or what type of stuffing you prefer, and a selection of recipes 'magically' appears. Once you make your selections, you get a page that you can bookmark and return to later. To make it even better, set up a bookmark in EYB with the recipes (adding any via the Bookmarklet if they aren't already there), and you can also print a shopping list to really help you get ready. 

A few other sites feature similar planners, like The Kitchn's Thanksgiving-o-matic, although most sites have static menus arranged to browse through. Cook's Illustrated features several themed menus such as A Southern Thanksgiving and a Make Ahead Menu. Similarly, Food Network bring us a bevy of pre-planned menus, including some from stars like Bobby Flay and Ina Garten. If you are looking for menus geared to special diets, check out Country Living's website. There you'll discover gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian menus, plus 25 more from which to choose. Combined with EYB, these menu planners will have you set in no time. 

Photo of Glazed Thanksgiving turkey from Secrets from a Caterer's Kitchen by Nicole Aloni

Celebrate National Dessert Day

I have seen over a dozen posts on social media noting that today is National Dessert Day. I was not aware of this special date because with my sweet tooth, I celebrate it every day. Nonetheless, it's a great reason to fire up the oven and break out the mixer if you aren't a daily dessert maker. 

Since I am currently battling a terrible head cold, I am not going to pull out all the stops for a showpiece dessert today. Lucky for me, the EYB Library is brimming with easy yet decadent dessert recipes so I can still celebrate. If feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of baking is keeping you from making desserts, you should check out the over 6,200 quick and easy dessert recipes in the Library.

You'll find many one-bowl cakes, brownies, and cookies along with loads of recipes that have just a few ingredients. My favorite quick and easy dessert is posset - you can vary the flavors almost infinitely, yet it's dead simple. As a bonus it's a great make ahead recipe. 

chocolate mousse

If you are the impatient type, there are many recipes for instant gratification, including variations on the miracle microwave mug cake, or the almost as fast two-ingredient chocolate mousse pictured above. The two ingredients? Chocolate and water. It couldn't be easier, and it's ready to eat in a hour. Whip it up and tuck it away in the fridge while you make dinner; its decadence will be waiting for you when you're finished. 

Here is a small sample of other popular quick and easy desserts from the EYB Library:

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!

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