3 Books & A Tchotchke for Christmas

Three books for foodies this Christmas

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Christmas gift-giving always brings a certain amount of stress that may hinder partaking in the season's merriment. These book suggestions for the food lovers in your life will hopefully alleviate some of that anxiety and allow you to indulge in a full allotment of cheer.

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Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover's Paradise by Marti Buckley

"Firewood in the oven, the crackle of a fire, the profound aroma of earth, and a countryside teeming with life -- these are the 'flavors' of the morning at Etxebarri, my restaurant in the tiny village of Axpe, Bizkaia," writes chef Bittor Arginzoniz in the foreword of this book on all things Basque."These smells, sounds and sights are typical of a Basque village."

Author Marti Buckley, an American who has lived in Basque Country for over eight years, evokes all of these smells, sounds and sights in this collection of recipes and histories that represent so much of the character of the region. From anchovies to piment d'Espelette, pintxos to txakoli, dining societies to cider houses, Buckley, a "seeker of essences", brings to each page the magic of Basque Country.

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Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook by José Andrés and Matt Goulding

Are vegetables sexy? If you need persuading that the answer is yes, José Andrés will do so with his trademark lust for life. Whether "grilling a peach until its flesh takes on the texture of a lobe of foie gras," or "slicing a tomato still warm from the sun and hitting it with a few crystals of coarse salt until it sheds tomato tears on the plate," writes co-author Matt Goulding, "If you don't believe in the sensuousness of produce, Jose has done his best to change that in these pages." From recipes centered on the produce of each season to conservas like guindilla peppers, white asparagus, and piquillo peppers, even the most ardent carnivores will have a new appreciation for the possibilities of plant-based dishes. As Andrés writes, "Seek out the life-changing bites."

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Salt Smoke Time: Homesteading and Heritage Techniques for the Modern Kitchen by Will Horowitz, Melissa Dobson, and Julie Horowitz

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." This quote from Albert Einstein adorns the back cover of this tome that delves into time-tested techniques for the modern kitchen. Will Horowitz specializes in "smoked, pickled, and preserved foods, with a focus on developing more sustainable food systems through the study of food history and nature" and in these pages you'll find detailed explanations of a variety of preservation techniques to make your own conservas, what preserved foods to stock your pantry with, and the recipes to use them in, including a particularly enticing pickled green tomatoes with caramelized shallots and cinnamon.

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The Bonus Tchotchke Suggestion: Casa Burner with Pinon Natural Wood Incense

Not especially food-related, no, but tchotchkes are as fun to say as they are to give as gifts. Want to elicit a smile? Give a loved one a thoughtful tchotchke. What tchotchke fits the bill? How about one that has a woodsy, wintery aroma wafting from it's tiny chimney? Create the ideal ambiance for a cozy winter's afternoon with this tiny pueblo dwelling, featured amongst the selection of fine-yet-affordable gifts in Bon Appetit's The Under $25 Gift Guide Full of Gifts You'd Never Guess Were Under $25 (along with some sensational anchovies you may recognize). 

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