Between September and January, life seems constantly abuzz with activity and anticipation. Once the first touch of fall emerges in the air, the holiday season commences. The Jewish New Year in late September gives way to the harvest festivals of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Once the pumpkins are cleared away, it’s time for the frantic countdown to Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Seriously Simple Holidays captures the exhilaration of the holiday period with its unique colors, tastes and fall ingredients, while offering streamlined recipes for both secular and religious holidays to fit the busy lifestyles that mark the season. The book builds on Diane Rossen Worthington’s philosophy of “sophisticated simplicity,” advising home cooks to take advantage of quality prepared foods and combine them with seasonal produce to reduce prep time yet ensure flavor.
An easy appetizer of baked brie with toasted almonds and cranberry glaze can be made with store-bought chutney. Purchasing pre-diced butternut squash saves time in preparing the enticing persimmon and winter squash soup with lemon-nutmeg cream. Store-bought trail mix is the secret ingredient in sausage, dried fruit and nut stuffing. These shortcuts don’t shortchange the lavish menus that Worthington proposes, nor the vibrant presentation. In sumptuous photos, bright greens and reds in dishes like rice pilaf with dried cherries and toasted pistachios capture the holiday spirit. Each holiday gets its due with quintessential recipes like chicken-vegetable soup with herbed matzo balls for Rosh Hashanah, pumpkin-caramel ice cream pie for Thanksgiving, standing rib roast with horseradish cream for Christmas dinner, panettone breakfast pudding with eggnog custard for Christmas morning and New Year’s Eve onion soup with parmesan-gruyere croutons. With sections on seasonal drinks, the holiday pantry and gifts from the kitchen, Seriously Simple Holidays has the season wrapped up.