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Seriously Simple Holidays: Recipes and Ideas to Celebrate the Season    by Diane Rossen Worthington order for
Seriously Simple Holidays
by Diane Rossen Worthington
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Diane Rossen Worthington, author of Seriously Simple, now brings us a festive cookbook on the same theme, Seriously Simple Holidays - whose color photographs made me seriously salivate. In her Introduction, the author tells us that 'Autumn is an exciting time of year, as we transition from lazy summer days to the hustle and bustle of the holidays to come.' But though 'inspired by the season's bounty', the chef also feels constrained by time, leading to this series of cookbooks that combine quality prepared foods with seasonal produce.

The book begins with guidance on The Holiday Pantry (stocking items from apple brandy to chestnuts and winter squashes), Essential Holiday Equipment, Holiday Entertaining Styles (including buffet and potluck), Setting Up the Bar, Gifts from the Kitchen (such as cookies or paté), Pairing Holiday Wine and Cheese (for example port and stilton, champagne with soft cheeses), and The Cheese Course First and Last. Then come the recipes, from Seasonal Drinks (including hot chocolate made from cocoa and bittersweet chocolate, and Cranberry Mimosas) all the way through to Desserts, followed by a section on Basics and Sauces (I like the sound of Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy, as preparing the gravy always seems to create last-minute chaos in my kitchen). Also the Thanksgiving Tips and Planning Countdown looks like a very handy organizational tool.

Now for the recipes. In Soups and Salads, I'll try New Year's Eve Onion Soup with Parmesan-Gruyere Croutons, as well as Baby Greens with Autumn Fruit and Warm Goat Cheese (though the Two-Endive Salad with Pear, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese also entices). For Breakfast and Brunch, a Savory Bread Pudding (including bacon, peppers and spinach) looks like it would satisfy hearty winter appetites. I'll try several of the Poultry recipes but I'll start with Mediterranean-Style Chicken with Capers, Plums and Olives - yumm! - followed by Roast Duck Legs with Caramelized Shallots and Garlic. In Meats, I most like the look of Rack of Lamb with Mustard-Date Crust. Pineapple-Honey-Glazed Ham will work well for my annual New Year's buffet, where I'll also serve Chilled Whitefish and Salmon Terrine with Herbed Horseradish Cream from the Seafood section and Butternut Squash Lasagna from Pasta, Vegetables, and Side Dishes.

Several pages are devoted to Stuffings, and Desserts range from Double-Persimmon Pudding to Dried Fruit and Chocolate Bar Cookies (also suitable for gifts). Many recipes explain what Advance Preparation can be done, or offer advice on what The Clever Cook Could do with alternative ingredients or to use up leftovers. I recommend Seriously Simple Holidays to you for your festive cookbook collection, and plan to make good use of my copy this holiday season.

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