With Christmas fast approaching, I am searching for something different to make that will maybe become a tradition in our house or maybe just be a fun conversation piece. Couple my love of cookbooks with this obsession to always have something new to cook, and I’m digging Santa’s North Pole Cookbook: Classic Christmas Recipes from Saint Nicholas Himself by Jeff Guinn.
The book is a small paperback that doesn’t just include recipes for unique Christmas dishes from around the world from the North Pole to Sweden to Ghana. I will fully admit that I would never make every recipe in this book, such as the Capitone Fritto from Italy (Festive Fried Eel) or Kutya from Poland (wheat porridge). I’m ok with that though because I never make any recipe in any cookbook I own. There are over 70 holiday recipes in this cookbook, plenty for anyone to find some they just can’t wait to try.
Part of the fun of cookbooks for me is looking at what options are out there and how various chefs have put together flavor combinations so that I can later use those inspirations in my own cooking. I’m intrigued with the use of poppy seeds with walnuts and honey in the Kutya, for example, and may use that in another dish down the line.
This cookbook doesn’t have any photos of the dishes, which is something I greatly love in cookbooks, but it has some of my favorite other characteristics. Many of the dishes specify what they go well with, so you know to make the Kissel (cranberry puree) with the roast goose or turkey or Christmas Fufu (mashed yams) pairs nicely with Doro Wat (also in the book) or any other poultry dish. The recipes also include how long they take to prep and cook, along with how many they serve – definitely handy bits of info to know.
But I think my favorite part of this book is actually the stories behind each recipe. Before the ingredients and directions begin, each recipe has information on its origin, as well as much of the traditions of the country where it originated. I find that information fascinating, as I always love to know the story behind each recipe. There are also “Lars Says” tips for just about every recipe from Lars, the official North Pole chef. He has hints about how to make recipes turn out and other tidbits of information interspersed to make the cookbook even more interesting and useful.
As for me, you’ll know it’s my house come Christmas morning when you can smell the Varm Rökt Lax Med Smör (hot smoked salmon with savory butter). We just might have to put our holiday plum pie cookies for Santa the night before, too – just to see if they’re as good as the ones he gets in the North Pole.
We have a copy of Santa’s North Pole Cookbook to give to one of you (U.S. only). Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below, starting by telling us what your favorite Christmas dish is. The winner will be announced in our column on January 7.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of this book for review. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions remain my own.
Written by 5MinutesforBooks contributor Michelle who is currently debating which recipe to try first. See what else she’s cooked up with her Tasty Tuesday’s on her blog Honest & Truly! or follow along on Twitter where she is also @HonestAndTruly.