A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite books, and I make time to re-read it every December. In fact I’ve read it so many times I have entire sections memorized. No matter how Scrooge-like I’m feeling (especially so this year), it never fails to get me in the mood for Christmas. I came across this beautiful hardcopy on the bookoutlet site recently, one of the Book to Table classic series, and decided I needed a new edition – because who doesn’t like a new cookbook too!
Publisher’s Blurb: A deluxe, full-color hardback edition of the perennial Christmas classic featuring a selection of recipes for your holiday table from Giada de Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Trisha Yearwood!
Have your book and eat it, too, with this clever edition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol featuring delicious recipes from celebrity chefs. Plan your perfect Christmas feast with a carefully curated menu of holiday dishes, from succulent baked ham to smashed root vegetables. And top it all off with fruitcake cookies and pecan pie. Celebrate the holiday with a good meal and a good book!
Book includes full, unabridged text of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, interspersed with recipes, food photography, and special food artwork.
My Review: It is a lovely book, there’s no doubt about it, but I must admit I was a bit disappointed in the recipes. I’m not sure what I was expecting, perhaps something from the Dickens era? What’s in a bowl of Smokin’ Bishop punch? (see Part Two) Or at least a recipe for plum pudding?
Instead, it’s the standard holiday fare, turkey, baked ham, mashed potatoes, with an assortment of the traditional side dishes, cranberry sauce, candied carrots, buttermilk biscuits, pecan pie. The recipes for spinach salad and asparagus with hollandaise sauce look good, but that’s spring-time food in my opinion! There are 13 recipes in all, grouped according to starters, entrees, side dishes, and desserts.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new, and these recipes by Martha & company look delicious, but this is the time of year we crave tradition, even more so this year, and there’s comfort and joy in having the same menu year after year. Besides, every family has their own version of these old favorites, a time-honored way of preparing the potatoes or the stuffing. In my dad’s big Irish family, the dressing/stuffing was made outside the bird, in pans so there would be enough to go around and the recipe is pretty basic – sauteed onions in butter poured over stale broken-up bread crumbs and sprinkled liberally with savory, and a pinch of thyme and sage, cooked in the oven until soggy and then re-heated later. We still make it that way, but in a white Corning-ware casserole dish. From my maternal grandma, we inherited mushy peas – smashed peas with butter. No green bean or sweet potato casseroles here in my Canadian family, nor pecan pie – that’s southern fare. Our other vegetable is squash – acorn only. And although the buttermilk biscuits in the book look good, we must have the same soft white dinner rolls bought from the same bakery, but only for the holidays. (I wonder what we’ll do if they ever go out of business.)
Dessert is plum pudding served with rum caramel sauce, and occasionally mince or apple pie. When I was growing up, dessert was just sliced fruit cake and cookies, served on a gold glass cake platter and a big bowl of fruit jello, red with bananas and grapes and topped with whipped cream – because everyone was just too full and what kid lingered at the dinner table when there were new toys to be played with! Back then the turkey was a twenty pounder, straight out of Norman Rockwell, as there would be turkey pies and stew later. My mother would get up at 5 am to put it in the oven as we would eat at 1 pm after church. Now with a smaller number, a double turkey breast is better and far less messy, while still leaving plenty of leftovers of white meat, which is all we like anyway.
Since I won’t be making a fruitcake this year, I might try the fruitcake cookies, but I don’t need 5 dozen.
and the apple-cranberry crisp might be nice on a cold January day.
Overall, it’s a visually appealing book, and if you don’t already own a copy, it’s well worth the discounted price ($9 vs $34 Cdn), plus it would make a nice Christmas present for someone who likes to cook.
PS. What are some of your traditional Christmas recipes?
PS. Charles Dickens was a master of description – so if you’re in the mood for some more food, hop on over to part two – Food Glorious Food – for a sample of his fare.