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Put a Bow on It: Great Holiday Gifts

December 05, 2018
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Our friends at Carmichael’s bookstore suggest these books as excellent gift choices for the upcoming holidays. Carmichael’s represents locally owned retailers where the benefits of buying local can be experienced.

Ottolenghi Simple

By Yotam Ottolenghi Publisher:
Ten Speed Press | $35

As Ottolenghi lightheartedly points out, he is often teased for requiring a surfeit of exotic ingredients in his bestselling cookbooks, which include Nopi and Jerusalem. This collection is meant to remedy that with “simple” but delicious dishes. Chef Ottolenghi’s imagination shines throughout the book. Comfort food with an international twist rules the day: Highlights include baked potatoes and soft-boiled eggs with Italian tonnato sauce; and lamb siniyah, a shepherd’s pie with a crust of tahini rather than mashed potatoes. Desserts include a mixture of crushed graham crackers, melted chocolate, pistachios and rum-soaked raisins refrigerated until set; and a no-churn raspberry ice cream. This is yet another appealing cookbook from a pro who seems to turn them out with ease.

The Nordic Baking Book

By Magnus Nilsson
Publisher: Phaidon

Cover price: $49.95 Nordic culture is renowned for its love of baking and baked goods: Hot coffee is paired with cinnamon buns spiced with cardamom, and cold winter nights are made cozier with the warmth of the oven. No one is better equipped to explore this subject than acclaimed chef Magnus Nilsson. In The Nordic Baking Book, Nilsson delves into all aspects of Nordic home baking—modern and traditional, sweet and savory — with recipes for everything from breads and pastries to cakes, cookies and holiday treats.

Nilsson traveled extensively throughout the Nordic region collecting recipes and documenting the landscape. All of these elements are lovingly compiled into a single beautifully designed cookbook.

Cocktail Codex

By Alex Day, Nick Fauchald and David Kaplan
Publisher: Ten Speed Press | $40

Bar mavens Kaplan and Day reunite with writer Fauchald in this excellent follow-up to their 2014 guide Death & Co. Here they offer a deconstructionist deep dive into the crafting of cocktails, complete with flowcharts and attention paid to each element of the process, from the balancing of flavors to the temperature of the glassware. They begin with the concept that there are six root cocktails from which all others descend: the old-fashioned, the martini, the daiquiri, the sidecar, the whisky highball and the flip (“a drink comprised of booze, sugar and whole egg”). Each of these gets its own chapter wherein the classic version is analyzed and followed by variations.

Experienced cocktail makers looking to take a deeper dive into mixology will find this to be a wonderfully detailed volume.

The Noma Guide to Fermentation

By Rene Redzepi and David Zilber
Publisher: Artisan Publishers | $40

Frequently lauded as one of the world’s best restaurants and recipient of two Michelin stars, Copenhagen’s Noma is known worldwide for the creativity and resourcefulness of Head Chef René Redzepi and his staff. Here, Redzepi and Zilber, Noma’s head of fermentation, share their insights in a wildly practical and fascinating examination of one of the world’s oldest methods of food preservation. Beginning with simple lacto-fermented recipes (just add salt) using plums, blueberries and porcini mushrooms, the chefs gradually up the fermentation ante, culminating with the highly concentrated and wildly funky garum, an umami-packed cousin to fish sauce. Throughout this cookbook, abounding with practical applications, the recipes are clearly written and accompanied by more than 500 detailed photos.

Whether readers opt for a DIY fermentation chamber using a restaurant speed rack or a basic foam cooler, if they follow the instructions to the letter they’re bound to wind up with not just a new culinary skill but a deeper appreciation for this ancient technique.

And for younger readers…

Tiny, Perfect Things

By M.H. Clark & Madeline Kloepper
Publisher: Compendium Inc | $16.95
Ages 2 to 7

“The whole world is a treasure waiting to be found. Open your eyes and see the wonderful things all around.” This is the story of a child and a grandfather whose walk around the neighborhood leads to a day of shared wonder as they discover all sorts of tiny, perfect things together. With rhythmic storytelling and detailed and intricate illustrations, this is a book about how childlike curiosity can transform ordinary days into extraordinary adventures. Absolutely beautiful.

Cookies!: An Interactive Recipe Book

By Lotta Nieminen
Publisher: Phaidon Press | $16.95
Ages 2 to 4

A simple-yet-practical recipe takes readers through the steps of baking cookies. Combine the ingredients, pull fresh cookies out of the oven! The interactive features invite us to participate in the process: Move the sifter from side to side to separate the flour, turn the wheel to mix the batter, pull the tab to crack the egg, slide the oven tray out, and more! One hundred percent adult-free, danger-free and mess-free — baking cookies has never been so independent. This is the fourth book in Nieminen’s bestselling COOK IN A BOOK series, which includes last year’s pick Tacos!

Run Wild

By David Covell
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | $17.99 Ages 3 to 5

“Hey, you! Sky’s blue!” a girl shouts as she runs by the window of a boy bent over his digital device. Intrigued, the boy runs out after her, leaving his shoes (and phone) behind, and into a world of sunshine, dewy grass and warm sand. Filled with the pleasures of being alive in the natural world, Run Wild is an exquisite and kid-friendly reminder of how wonderful life can be beyond doors and screens.

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