December 9, 2012

3 Lovely Cookbooks (That Would Make 3 Great Gifts!)

Shelf Awareness sent me a big stack of cookbooks to review for their special cookbook issue, and I had so much fun reading them! Check out the whole cookbook issue here.

Here are three of my favorites for you to peruse:

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
Seattle residents have long been familiar with the Dahlia Bakery. Thanks to Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance's Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, the sweet and savory treats offered up at the bakery are now available for those who live far from its environs. English muffin sandwiches, monkey bread and cakes leap off the page in beautiful close-up photos. Recipes are laid out in great detail, offering tips on how things are done at Dahlia as well a snippet explaining how or when the item came to be served at the bakery--such as the chocolate caramel pecan tart, which has been on the menu for more than 20 years, or the cornbread bacon muffins, which were developed for Dahlia's annual "Baconopolis" event.

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook offers an array of irresistible items to make at home--but even more temptingly, it might just cause you to head to Seattle to try the Dahlia Bakery for yourself.

Canal House Cooks Every Day
Since 2007, Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton have produced Canal House Cooking, a periodical cookbook published three times a year that they write, photograph and design themselves. They also have a popular blog documenting the daily lunches they make for themselves in the Canal House in Lambertville, N.J. Canal House Cooks Every Day is that blog transformed into a gorgeous, hefty cookbook. Beginning on April 1, it tells the story of a year of seasonal lunches at Canal House, giving the weather and a recipe for each day. April starts with asparagus; they move on to summer strawberries, fall chanterelles and ducks, winter apples and pasta, then back to spring greens.

The stories accompanying each recipe tell of Christopher and Melissa's close relationship with their food and their dedication to fresh, seasonal ingredients. The photos are stunning; the recipes range from simple deviled eggs to a more time-consuming pork stewed in guajillo chile mole, making the book appealing to cooks of all abilities.

I Love Cinnamon Rolls!  
Judith Fertig's I Love Cinnamon Rolls! is full of cinnamon rolls like you've never seen them before. There are bacon-brown sugar cinnamon rolls, tarte tatin cinnamon rolls with crème fraîche, even vegan sweet potato-cinnamon crowns with bourbon icing.

Fertig begins with an explanation of the anatomy of a cinnamon roll and recipes for eight dough options, including a traditional method as well as gluten-free and vegan options. She then offers easy-to-follow recipes for taking the basic dough, adding various sauces and fillings and expanding it into almost limitless varieties.

The pictures are mouthwatering; the descriptions of the rolls, buns, muffins and twists are divine. They may look very different, but they all follow the same basic methods, making the recipes approachable even for novices. The small hardcover size and irresistible pictures make I Love Cinnamon Rolls! a perfect stocking stuffer for the baker in your life.

And one more note: they all are scrumptious, but if you're gifting to a novice I think I Love Cinnamon Rolls! is the most approachable. The dishes in Canal House Cooks Every Day look delicious, but some are intimidatingly chef-y. (Yup, I just made chef-y a word).

Do you like pretty cookbooks?

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I originally wrote these short reviews for Shelf Awareness.