Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden - Cookbook Review
150 Festive Recipes to Bring Family & Friends Together
By Bradley Ogden with Lydia Scott
(Running Press, 2011)
This holiday season, when fears of overcooked turkey and lumpy pumpkin pie fill your head with dread, you can turn to Bradley Ogden to ease your anxiety. The award-winning chef spent three decades refining holiday meals, a labor of love that has culminated in his latest book, Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden.
Offering innovative takes on beloved family classics served at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, the detailed recipes in this book will allow veteran cooks to master difficult dishes while still enabling novice chefs to feel like masters. The Thanksgiving section includes spiced honey-baked ham, sage-butter-roasted turkey, sweet potato gratin and classic pumpkin pie but also less traditional options such as shellfish chowder and twice-baked bleu cheese soufflés with citrus-fennel salad. You'll be able to craft an entire menu from the 50-plus Thanksgiving recipes, starting perhaps with the sparkling pear punch and crunchy honey lavender almonds and concluding with the persimmon walnut upside-down cake. Ogden also covers chicken, lobster and turkey stock as well as the art of turkey carving.
The Christmas portion is equally delightful and doable, proffering caviar potato puffs, braised lamb shoulder, devil's food chocolate cupcakes and more, as well as four menu ideas: A Traditional Christmas Party Dinner Menu; "Something Different" Christmas Dinner Menu; Intimate Christmas Dinner for Two; An Elegant Christmas Dinner Party, plus a preparation schedule on how to plan weeks ahead of the festivities. Ogden's take on the New Year's Celebration serves up recipes for crowd pleasers like blood orange mimosas, fennel-cured gravlax, black-eyed peas with smoked bacon, and spinach and ravioli with swiss chard.
All of his recipes sound delicious; we just wish the chef had included preparation and cooking times, especially since the holidays are stressful for most and we are usually pressed for time. Readers have no idea about the time commitment necessary for making, say, the blue corn cakes with caviar and crème fraiche, or even what kind of caviar to buy. The absence of this key element is more pronounced as we are supposed to craft a multi-course meal! Recipes also don't include calorie counts, which we have come to expect these days, but many of them do include wine pairings.
Despite these shortcomings, Ogden's cookbook is a roadmap for happy hosting and feasting that should leave everyone in the holiday spirit, including the cook.
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