Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last-minute appetizers ideas for a great New Year' Eve party

These two last-minute appetizers idea, Caesar Dip with Crudités and Stilton and Walnut Balls, are excerpted from "Christmas 101 - Celebrate the Holiday Season from Christmas to New Year's", copyright © by Rick Rodgers. All rights reserved. Available now at Amazon

Caesar Dip with Crudités

Makes about 12 appetizer servings

Thick, cheesy Caesar salad dressing seemed a natural to turn into a dip. But when I was researching the original dressing recipe, I found out a fascinating fact. Caesar salad was originally served with whole romaine lettuce hearts because it was meant to be eaten with the fingers! And it's just as good with other vegetables. If you wish, serve the dip with Garlic Crostini, too. They'll be reminiscent of the croutons served on Caesar Salad.

Make Ahead: The dip can be made up to 3 days ahead; the vegetables can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.

1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon anchovy paste
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press
Assorted fresh vegetables, such as romaine hearts separated into leaves, carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks, mushroom caps, cherry tomatoes, and Garlic Crostini (page 12), for dipping

To make the dip, mix together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

To serve, transfer the dip to a serving bowl and serve with the vegetables.

Stilton and Walnut Balls

Makes 12 to 16 appetizer servings

Cheese balls aren't supposed to be classy, just delicious, but this recipe has a very sophisticated combination of flavors. It goes well with plain watercrackers, but it is also terrific spread on sliced pears.

Make Ahead: The cheese balls can be made up to 5 days ahead.

8 ounces Stilton or other blue cheese, rind removed, at room temperature

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons tawny port
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Water crackers, for serving
Cored, sliced, ripe Bosc pears, tossed with lemon juice to discourage browning, for serving


In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, mash the Stilton and cream cheese together until smooth. Work in the port and pepper. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the work surface, and scrape the cheese mixture into the center of the wrap. Use the plastic wrap to form the cheese mixture into a ball (it will be soft). Refrigerate until the ball is chilled and firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, unwrap the ball and roll in the chopped nuts. Transfer to a platter and serve with the crackers and pears.

For more yummy New Year's Eve recipes go to website and you'll find:
- Oysters in Muscat
- Mexican-Style Oysters
- Brined Holiday Oysters on the Half Shell
- Hot Crab Dip
- Salmon Pate
- New Year's Punch
- Classic Champagne Cocktail
- great appetizers from great chefs such as: Barefoot Contessa, Martha Stewart, Mario Batali, Martin Yan, Charlie Trotter, Cory Schreiber, Nigella Lawson, Rick Bayless, Tom Colicchio, Wolfgang Puck, Paula Deen

... and more! whishes you a happy tasty bubbly yummy fabulous 2009!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our favorite Gingerbread cookies recipe

We all love to dress up the holidays with fun & spicy cookies! This is one of our favorite recipe for gingerbread cookies we've found so far.


5 cups flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 tablespoons vinegar

6 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cooking Instructions:
In a stand mixer bowl with a flat beater attached, add granulated sugar and shortening and set to speed 4 until it is light and fluffy. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.

In a large bowl mix together flour, ground ginger, baking soda, ground cloves and salt. Reduce the speed to stir and mix in the flour mixture, in 3 additions.

Divide the dough into 3 disks and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours.

To prepare the frosting: In a stand mixer bowl with the flat beater attached and set to speed 4, beat butter until it's smooth and creamy. Reduce the speed mix in confectioner's sugar in 2 additions and vanilla. Set frosting aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Flour work surface and rolling pin. Work with one disk at a time. Roll out dough to a 1/8 of an inch thickness.

Using a cookie cutter, cut out your shapes and place them at least 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Cookies will take about 5 minutes to cook. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Make sure the cookies are completely cooled before frosting.
© Chefs, All Right Res.


All-Clad Gourmet Ovenware: Advanced instruments for baking success.
Crafted with the same exacting standards that give All-Clad Cookware its legendary performance and heirloom durability, each commercial-grade piece is made of 18/10 stainless-steel with an aluminum core for supremely even heat distribution. Designed to maintain its precise shape throughout a lifetime of service, All-Clad Gourmet Ovenware will not warp in a hot oven. To help you enjoy its versatility and superior performance, famous baking chef Carole Walter has specifically developed three recipes for each piece of the collection. Made in the USA.
All-Clad Gourmet Ovenware From $49.99


Use PayPal and Get A Free Shipping Upgrade today only! Click here


book coverBetty Crocker Christmas Cookbook
Betty Crocker's New Christmas Cookbook is a colorful and creative read. At this hectic time of year, cooks can feel safe and secure in the capable hands of Ms. Crocker. Every imaginable Christmas dish is here--cakes, candies, breads, meats, and, thankfully, lots of vegetarian dishes (a group somewhat ignored in many holiday cookbooks). There are also innovative ideas for gift foods and wrapping. Whatever you're aiming for--a huge family feast or a quiet dinner for two--this Christmas book comes highly recommended. --Naomi Gesinger

Click here to buy

book coverThe All-American Christmas Cookbook: Family Favorites from Every State
Christmas is a season of traditionsómusic lights stories decorations sharing gifts spending time with family and friends and of course food! The All-American Christmas Cookbook provides a state-by-state tour of America's favorite Christmas recipes from Alabama's Pecan Divinity to New York's Oyster Stew to Utah's Quick Peppermint Stick Cake. With classic regional recipes and beautiful vintage artwork from holidays past this cookbook will put everyone in the Christmas spirit from sea to shining sea.
Click here to buy

book coverChristmas Sweets: 65 Festive Recipes - Table Decorations - Sweet Gift Ideas
Christmas Sweets transforms the holiday table into a winter wonderland! From boxes of homemade candy brimming with Chocolate Fudge or Almond-Butter Toffee to cookie jars filled with Pecan Lace Cookies or Apricot-Pistachio Bars, this collection of recipes and decorations will make gift-giving extra sweet this year. Beautifully illustrated with gorgeous color photography, each festive project celebrates the season and offers inspiring craft ideas using sweets both homemade and store bought. Holiday guests will delight in stealing a treat from a Candy Wreath and getting caught under the Candy Acorn Kissing Ball. With homemade gingerbread confections presented in a spectacular, wintry Gingerbread Cookie Box, Santa will never settle for cookies again.
Click here to buy

book coverI'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas
No one knows chocolate like Marcel Desaulniers, whose bestselling, award-winning books have made his name synonymous with luscious chocolate desserts. Now Desaulniers has created the ultimate holiday baking book for chocolate lovers everywhere, packed with full-color photography. The 72 chocolate treats and desserts you’ll find inside are guaranteed to draw oohs and ahhs from your family and friends, and many are also straightforward to make—which means you’ll have time to enjoy Christmas, too!
Click here to buy

book coverChristmas with Paula Deen: Recipes and Stories from My Favorite Holiday
"I've gone through all my books and put together this collection of my most treasured recipes and memories for the holiday season to share with you...You'll find a few new dishes, a sprinkling of new holiday stories, and some family pictures you might not have seen before."
There's no holiday Paula Deen loves better than Christmas, when she opens her home to family and friends, and traditions old and new make the days merry and bright. Filled with Paula's trademark Southern charm and happy reminiscences of Yuletide seasons past, Christmas with Paula Deen is a collection of beloved holiday recipes and stories interspersed with cherished family photographs. Included are Paula's most requested homemade gifts of food; a collection of cookies sure to become your family's favorites; easy dishes for a Christmas breakfast or brunch that will let you enjoy the food and your guests; impressive fare for Christmas dinner and holiday entertaining and, of course, spectacular cakes, puddings, pies, and other sweet things.
"So Merry Christmas, y'all, and best dishes and best wishes from me and my family to yours."
Click here to buy


Browse our Christmas recipes on website for more Xmas cookies, candy, breakfast, appetizers, main dish, side dish, dessert and drinks' recipes!
The most loved are:
- Cappuccino Nog
- Pancake Snowmen
- Cream Cheese Candy Cane Cookies
- Martha Stewart's Coq au Vin
- Simple Baked Ham
... and more!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jacques Pépin celebrates... and we do, too!

A whole ham is an impressive main dish for a large party and is ideal for a buffet. The fully cooked hams available at your butcher shop or supermarket improve greatly when cooked in water. After recooking, the ham should be allowed to cool in the cooking liquid before it is served plain, warm or cold, or then baked, as it is here, with a peach-mustard glaze. The peach sauce served with the ham is optional, but made with large ripe yellow Georgia peaches, it is a delicious complement to the meat. For a smaller party, half a ham can be used and the cooking time cut almost in half. --- Jacques Pepin


Yield: 16 to 18 servings

1 fully cooked ham (16 to 17 pounds)

Peach-Mustard Glaze:
1/2 cup peach preserves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1 cup water for deglazing drippings from baked ham
3 cups demi-glace [Demi-glace can be bought at gourmet markets; otherwise boil homemade meat stock over high heat until reduced by half; it should be highly gelatinous, slightly syrupy, and have a beautiful reddish-brown color.]

Peach Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds large ripe peaches (about 10), each pitted (but not peeled) and cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup sugar
4 ounces dried peaches, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 cups combined demi-glace and deglazed ham drippings (see above)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon potato starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water (for thickening, if needed)
1 cup julienned basil leaves

Put the ham in a large stockpot, and fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the ham. Bring the water to 170° F to 180° F (below the boil; if boiled, the ham will crack open at the joint). Cook at that temperature for 3 hours, then let cool in the cooking water.

When ready to proceed with the recipe, remove the ham from the water. With a knife, remove the skin from the ham, and trim the surface of the meat where it is brown and skin-like around the shank bone. To make carving easier later on, remove the pelvis or hipbone by running a knife around it. When the skin has been removed, trim off all but a thin layer of white fat from the surface of the ham.

Run the point of your knife in a criscrosss pattern through the remaining fat on the top of the ham, cutting slightly into the surface of the meat. This scoring will help the glaze adhere to the meat while it cooks. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

For the peach-mustard glaze: In a small bowl, mix together the preserves, pepper, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and allspice. Spread this coating on the top surface of the ham, place it in a roasting pan, and bake in the 350° F oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325° F, and continue cooking the ham for 1 hour. Sprinkle the powdered sugar on top, and cook for another 30 minutes, until nicely glazed. Transfer the ham to a platter, and set it aside in a warm place while you make the peach sauce. Discard the accumulated fat in the roasting pan, and add the 1 cup of water to the drippings in the pan, stirring to loosen and mix in the solidified juices. Add the demi-glace and bring to a boil. Reserve for use in the peach sauce.

For the peach sauce: Heat the butter in two large skillets, 2 tablespoons of butter per skillet. When it is hot, add half the peach wedges to each skillet, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the sugar, dividing it between the skillets, and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes longer. Add the dried peach julienne and the vinegar, half to each skillet, and stir to mix. Combine the contents of both skillets in one saucepan. Strain the reserved demi-glace mixture over the peaches, and stir in the salt. if the sauce is thinner than you would like, add the dissolved potato starch, and bring to a boil. Boil 1 or 2 minutes. At serving time, stir in the basil.

To serve: To make carving easier, make a vertical cut down into the ham approximately 1 inch above the shank bone. The object is to make a guard that your knife will not go beyond when you slice the ham; this will give a clean bottom edge to the slices and also protect your hand from the knife in case it happens to slide while you are slicing the meat. Slice the ham on the bias, stopping at the cut edge, and arrange the meat on a warm platter. Serve three or four slices of ham per person with a few slices of the peaches and the sauce spooned around and over the meat.

© Jacques Pépin. All Rights Res.


bookJacques Pepin Celebrates

Like Julia Child, Jacques Pépin offers readers delectable French-based recipes while teaching vital, confidence-building techniques. Jacques Pépin Celebrates is another winning signature venture that offers 200 recipes with terrific color-photo-illustrated techniques. Containing largely updated recipes from Pépin's out-of-print Art of Cooking, and the companion to his eponymous public television series, the book provides formulas for a wide range of celebratory as well as everyday dining occasions. This is not a resource for last-minute cooking, but one that rewards cooks not only with great food, but with the tools they need to expand their repertoires gloriously.

Organized in chapters from soups to sweets, "Celebrations" offers both single-dish recipes, such as Salmon in Sorrel Sauce, and "multi-dish" main-course specialties, including Venison Steaks with Black Current Sauce, Chestnut Purée in Zucchini Boats, and Cranberry Relish. Homey dishes abound, and readers will want to make the likes of Cocotte Veal Shanks, Gratin of Butternut Squash, and Ham Georgia with Peach Garnish. A detailed section on bread making yields such treasures as Black Pepper Bread with Walnuts, while two dessert chapters offer such delights as Chocolate-Orange Tart with Candied Orange Peels, Caramel Snow Eggs, and Mocha Success Cake. With the step-by-step photos, which treat subjects as diverse as pan lining and pepper peeling; useful asides by Pépin's daughter and colleague, Claudine; and instructive commentary throughout, the book is another Pépin hit. --Arthur Boehm Click here to buy

bookJacques Pépin More Fast Food My Way
From "a great teacher and truly a master technician" (Julia Child), a new cookbook full of faster-than-ever food, including dozens of elegant "minute" recipes.
Jacques Pépin Fast Food My Way was an immediate sensation, captivating cooks and critics, who called it "fabulous," "chic," and "elegant." Now America's first and most enduring celebrity chef does himself one better, with recipes that are faster, fresher, and easier than ever. Only Jacques could have come up with dishes so innovative and uncomplicated.

"Minute recipes": Nearly no-cook recipes fit for company: Cured Salmon Morsels, Glazed Sausage Bits
Smashing appetizers: Scallop Pancakes, zipped together
in a blender (10 minutes)
Almost instant soups: Creamy Leek and Mushroom Soup (7 minutes)
Fast, festive dinners: Stuffed Pork Fillet on Grape Tomatoes (18 minutes)
Stunning desserts: Mini Almond Cakes in Raspberry Sauce (15 minutes) Click here to buy

bookJulia and Jacques Cooking at Home  is the companion volume to Julia Child and Jacques Pepin's PBS series of the same name. The setup works like this: the two opinionated TV cooks confront different ingredients on each show, then make their way through to the finished dishes that make up a meal. The recipes reveal themselves along the way.
What's most important here--and it shows up in the cookbook--is that there is no one way to cook. The point of the book isn't to follow recipes, but to cook from the suggestions. And Julia and Jacques have many, many suggestions wh
en it comes to home cooking in the French style. And many tips, for that matter.
Take chicken, for example. "Not everything I do with my roast chicken is necessarily scientific," Julia says. "For instance, I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it--and, more important, I like to give it." Julia sets her chicken on a V-rack in a roasting pan in a 425-degree oven that she then turns down to 350 after 15 minutes. Jacques roasts his bird at 425, on its side, right in the pan. "To me," he says, "it's very important to place the chicken on its side for all but 10 minutes of roasting." After 25 minutes he turns his chicken over, careful not to tear the skin, and lowers the heat to 400. The bird finishes breast-side up for the last 15 to 20 minutes.
This book is divided into chapters on appetizers, soups, eggs, salads and sandwiches, potatoes, vegetables, fish, poultry, meats, and desserts. The she said-he said format works throughout, and a lot of what's said you may realize you have heard before. There are no big surprises here. But it's good fun, a decent reminder of some of the classics of French tradition, and a chance to loosen up and simply cook at home with a couple of masters--one to the right of you, one to the left. You decide which hamburger's the right one for you. --Schuyler Ingle Click here to buy

bookThe Short-Cut Cook: Make Simple Meals with Surprisingly Little Effort
# Jacques Pépin, America's favorite French chef, makes your cooking easier with 150 timesaving recipes.Make crackers by spritzing wonton wrappers with oil and bake until golden.
# Use frozen butternut squash for quick soup.
# Freeze salmon and cream cheese appetizer rollups for easy slicing.
# Prepare cheese straws appetizers with frozen puff pastry.
# Need an elegant entrÉe in record time?
SautÉ pork cutlets with prunes and steak sauce.
# Spoon a rich-tasting sauce of wine, ketchup, and mustard over grilled steak
# Mix melted chocolate with whipped cream for quick chocolate mousse.
# Fill a store-bought, hollowed-out pound cake with quick food processor lemon buttercream.  Click here to buy

bookJacques Pepin's Simple and Healthy Cooking
"Having read and used all of Jacques Pepin's remarkable books, I did not think he could top himself - and here he is with Simple and Healthy Cooking. He has done it again." -- Morley Safer, TV correspondent, 60 Minutes
"Healthy cooking should taste good, and Jacques has done it in this very attractive new book full of good ideas." -- Pierre Franey, author of Cooking In France and host of the TV cooking series of the same name.
"It is with my greatest pleasure, both personally and professionally, that I recommend this delightful book of Jacque's Pepin's to anybody who wants to cook, live and eat well. He is the ideal guide." -- Barbara Kafka, author of Party Food, columnist for Gourmet magazine and TV personality.
"This book is a definite must for those who enjoy cooking and eating simple and delicious food." -- Martin Yan, author of Yan Can Cook and host of the TV cooking series of the same name.
Click here to buy


If you want to go on celebrate with Jacques Pepin take a look at our Great Chefs page where you can find other great recipes by Jacques Pépin, such as
- Breaded Pork Scaloppine With Mushroom Sauce
- Veal Chops in Cognac and Mushroom Sauce
- Salmon With Mousseline Sauce
- Salmon In Sorrel Sauce
- Jacques's French Potato Salad
- Chocolate-Espresso Soufflé With Armangnac Crème Anglaise
... and more!

Or maybe you'd like more Ham to ornate your Christmas table? Then browse our Ham recipes here and our Xmas recipes here.

Happy celebrations!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nigella goes French

...with this delicious recipe. Celebrate Winter cooking with us and Nigella!

Nigella LawsonNigella ExpressI love the old French favorites, the sorts that evoke not the supercilious waiter and theatrically removed silvered dome of the big-name restaurants, but rather the small-town bistro, all warm wood and rough red wine. This is possibly the easiest route to a proper, filling, and yet strangely delicate dinner. The pork is cooked for just enough time to take away pinkness but ensure tenderness within, and gloriously scorched without. The mustard, cider, and cream add comfort and piquancy. To soak up the gorgeous juices, and to serve as a fantastically quick potato substitute, I serve up gnocchi alongside. You could always add a little lemony fennel, sliced thinly, or a green salad if you're in the mood. --Nigella Lawson

Mustard Pork ChopsMustard Pork Chops
(Serves 2)
2 pork chops, about 1 lb total weight
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons garlic oil
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup hard cider

1. Cut the fat off the chops, and then bash them briefly but brutally with a rolling pin between two pieces of plastic wrap to make them thinner.

2. Heat the oil in a pan, and then cook the chops over a moderately high heat for about 5 minutes per side. Remove them to a warmed plate.

3. Pour the cider into the pan, still over the heat, to deglaze the pan. Let it bubble away for a minute or so, then add the mustard and stir in the cream.

4. Let the sauce continue cooking for a few minutes before pouring over each plated pork chop. If you’re having gnocchi with, make sure you turn them in the pan to absorb any spare juices before adding them to your plates.

© Nigella Lawson


Nigella Lawson's relaxed attitude to cooking and eating have made her a household name on both sides of the Atlantic. To her, cooking is not about slavishly following recipes, but about the simple desire to make something good to eat. Her engagingly-written bestselling cookbooks have a relaxed and comfortable style; as if Nigella herself were with you in the kitchen, chatting and gossiping as you cook. Likewise, her Living Kitchen range takes familiar kitchenware and refines and improves it to make cooking an easier and more pleasurable experience. Beautifully packaged, each item in Nigella's Living Kitchen collection makes an ideal gift – if you can bear to give it away. Why not treat yourself?

Nigella Lawson 4-pc. Measuring Cup Set, Lavender
Limited edition Living Kitchen Measuring Cups in lavender. A special offer to raise money for the Lavender Trust at Breast Cancer Care (registered charity no. 1017658) a charity supporting younger women with breast cancer. All Nigella's royalties and an additional royalty from Bliss will be donated from this purchase.

This set of lavender measuring cups looks just like something you'd sip coffee or tea from, with a handle on the side and wide brim. By Nigella Lawson, each is made of ceramic to hold a multitude of baking ingredients. Measurements are printed on the inside of the rims and come with ounce and metric conversions.

Get Nigella Lawson 4-pc. Measuring Cup Set in Lavender from link

Nigella Lawson 9-in. Cake Stand, Blue
Show your culinary masterpiece off to its full potential with this contemporary cake stand.
Nigella Lawson 9-in. Cake Stand, Blue: link

Nigella Lawson 12.25-in. Mezzaluna Board, Beech
This beautiful Beech Board is designed to be used with the mezzaluna chopper. Oval indentation allows chopper to cut evenly and thoroughly.
Nigella Lawson 12.25-in. Mezzaluna Board, Beech: link

Nigella Lawson 2-pc. Serving Hands, Beech
Toss and serve elegantly with these beech serving hands by Nigella Lawson. Use these serving hands to serve a salad of tossed greens or a bowlful of warm pasta with vegetables. From Nigella Lawson's collection of kitchenwares, these charming "hands" have unique, cupped shapes that keep food contained while serving.
Nigella Lawson 2-pc. Serving Hands, Beech: link

Nigella Lawson 3.5-in. Parmesan Grater
This egg shaped Parmesan Grater grates the hard cheese the way it should, giving you fine crumbly shavings. A small wooden hand held grater that fits neatly in the palm for perfect ergonomics. Made from beech wood.
Nigella Lawson 3.5-in. Parmesan Grater: link

Nigella Lawson 6-pc. Measuring Spoons
While most measuring spoons come in sets of four, Nigella Lawson has taken the task an extra step. This set of six spoons measure everything from a Tablespoon down to a pinch - it's those extra little measurements that sometimes make all the difference! Especially handy if you don't want to stop and dry hands for that extra dash of something. For added style, they're shaped like regular flatware spoons. Made of brushed stainless steel. Measurements include:1 tbsp. 1 dsp. (equal to 10ml - this is not 1/2 tbsp but rather 2 tsp -handy!) 1 tsp. 1/2 tsp.1/4 tsp. "a pinch" spoon
Nigella Lawson 6-pc. Measuring Spoons: link


Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast

The Domestic Goddess is back, and this time it's instant. Nigella and her style of cooking have earned a special place in our lives, symbolizing all that is best, most pleasurable, most hands-on, and least fussy about good food. But that doesn't mean she wants us to spend hours in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove.

Featuring fabulous fast foods, ingenious shortcuts, terrific time-saving ideas, effortless entertaining tips, and simple, scrumptious meals, Nigella Express is her solution to eating well when time is short. Here are mouthwatering meals, quick to prepare and easy to follow, that you can conjure up after a day in the office or on a busy weekend, for family or unexpected guests. This is food you can make as you hit the kitchen running, with vital advice on how to keep your pantry stocked, and your freezer and fridge stacked. When time is precious, you canít spend hours shopping, so you need to make life easier by being prepared. Not that these recipes are basic, though they are always simple, but it's important to make every ingredient earn its place, minimizing effort by maximizing taste.

Here too is great food that can be prepared quickly but cooked slowly in the oven, leaving you time to have a bath, a drink, talk to friends, or help the children with their homework, minimum stress for maximum enjoyment.

Nigella Express features a new generation of fast food, never basic, never dull, always doable, quick, and delicious.

Featuring recipes seen on Food Networkís Nigella Express series. Click here to buy

Nigella Bites: From Family Meals to Elegant Dinners -- Easy, Delectable Recipes For Any Occasion

Nigella Bites--the title is taken from Nigella Lawson's Style Network cooking show of the same name--is the third book from British Vogue food editor and New York Times food columnist Nigella Lawson, a force of nature all her own. Her other books include How to Eat and How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Fans of the TV show will find all these easy-to-follow recipes familiar, and the book is even designed with pages for note taking at the end of each section.

Nigella Bites is divided into chapters that include "All-Day Breakfast," "Comfort Food," "TV Dinners," "Party Girl," "Rainy Days," "Trashy," "Legacy," "Suppertime," "Slow-Cooked Weekend," and "Templefood." "Templefood" refers to the "body as a temple," and Lawson shares what she calls "restorative" recipes, like the raw egg and brandy hangover cure called Prairie Oyster. Hot and Sour Soup and Gingery Hot Duck Salad are also present and accounted for.
It's all self-referential. Lawson (her chapter introductions are printed in 26-point type for the hard of seeing) holds nothing back about what she likes, how she overindulges, how she works her lifestyle into the kitchen and onto the table. It's encouragement by example, with a practical twist. You aren't going to spend hours in the kitchen midweek. That's a reward you save for the weekend. But there's plenty of deliciousness to be had midweek as well, and Lawson's there to help you along your way. --Schuyler Ingle Click here to buy

How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food
"Cooking is not about just joining the dots, following one recipe slavishly and then moving on to the next," says British food writer Nigella Lawson. "It's about developing an understanding of food, a sense of assurance in the kitchen, about the simple desire to make yourself something to eat." Lawson is not a chef, but "an eater." She writes as if she's conversing with you while beating eggs or mincing garlic in your kitchen. She explains how to make the basics, such as roast chicken, soup stock, various sauces, cake, and ice cream. She teaches you to cook more esoteric dishes, such as grouse, white truffles (mushrooms, not chocolate), and "ham in Coca-Cola." She gives advice for entertaining over the holidays, quick cooking ("the real way to make life easier for yourself: cooking in advance"), cooking for yourself ("you don't have to belong to the drearily narcissistic learn-to-love-yourself school of thought to grasp that it might be a good thing to consider yourself worth cooking for"), and weekend lunches for six to eight people. Don't expect any concessions to health recommendations in the recipes here--Lawson makes liberal and unapologetic use of egg yolks, cream, and butter. There are plenty of recipes, but the best parts of How to Eat are the well-crafted tidbits of wisdom, such as the following:
* "Cook in advance and, if the worse comes to the worst, you can ditch it. No one but you will know that it tasted disgusting, or failed to set, or curdled or whatever."

* On the proper English trifle: "When I say proper I mean proper: lots of sponge, lots of jam, lots of custard and lots of cream. This is not a timid construction ... you don't want to end up with a trifle so upmarket it's inappropriately, posturingly elegant. A degree of vulgarity is requisite."
* "Too many people cook only when they're giving a dinner party. And it's very hard to go from zero to a hundred miles an hour. How can you learn to feel at ease around food, relaxed about cooking, if every time you go into the kitchen it's to cook at competition level?" --Joan Price Click here to buy

Feast: Food to Celebrate Life
If you consider eating with friends and family a joyful, indulgent celebration chances are you love a good feast. And who better to carefully guide you through the daunting task of preparing that Feast than the domestic goddess herself Nigella Lawson. Written in the tradition of Nigella Bites and How to Eat, Feast is a cookbook for the sensualist that wants to eat very well, but also wants to spend time enjoying the company of their guests instead of struggling with the creation of the meal. What sets Lawson apart is not that she's a good cookbook writer, but a strong writer period. Similar to her other books, Nigella's Feast is presented as part personal memoir, part educational, and part recipe presentation. There is a nice blend of occasions including the obvious (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Easter), a few culturally specific ones (Rosh Hashanah, Georgian Feast, and Venetian Feast), feasts for kids, for vegetarians, and an elegant cocktail party. Each chapter begins with an overview of that particular "Feast." Generally, there is a personal story and experience told, an overview of the cultural importance of the feast, and a description of foods that are associated with each occasion. Impressively, every recipe begins with a personal anecdote giving that impression Nigella didn't just throw it in the book, but is experienced with the recipe and has used it with success. Take her twist on the decadent Chocolate Guinness Cake for example: "I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting to echo the pale head that sits on top of a glass of stout. It's unconventional to add cream but it makes it frothier and lighter which I regard as aesthetically and gastronomically desirable." Who can argue? The cake is to die for. So next time you need to prepare a dinner party let the goddess be your guide, and remember: Keep the preparation simple, use easily available ingredients, and take time to enjoy your guests and your meal. Feast may not be the most advanced cookbook you will own, but if you want to create excellent food with relative ease in a short amount of time, you can not beat Nigella. --Rob Bracco Click here to buy


Feel free to browse our Great Chefs page for more Nigella recipes, such as:
- Fried Prawn Cakes
- Rice Paper Rolls
- Georgian Stuffed Chicken
- Cappuccino Cupcakes
- Chocolate Gingerbread
- Chocolate Mint Cookies
- Pistachio Macaroons
... and more!