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Cookbook Tips: Festive Dishes with Fish, Meat or Vegan

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Sam Dixon: »A Very Vegan Christmas«

If the ingredients of the first recipe of a vegan cookbook are gin, Campari, vermouth and pomegranate juice and lead to a spirited Negroni cocktail, this work is most likely not from a typically somewhat unenjoyable German meat-free pen. And indeed, it is a British food stylist and recipe developer with Asian roots who has now squeezed the essence of the vegan food ideas of her cooking columns in renowned UK media such as »The Guardian«, »GQ« or »The Telegraph« on 176 pages between two Christmas book covers.

The selection of recipes and the typical British, i.e. rather rough, food look don't seem particularly Christmassy at first glance. Nevertheless, they are perfectly suited to entertain a small to medium-sized vegan party with really exciting culinary delights that always promise enjoyment and depth of taste. Dixon's Asian background is not in the foreground, but it does provide perfectly formulated finger food in the first chapter "For convivial gatherings" such as colorful vegetable sushi with Sriracha mayo, wonton crispy wedges with watermelon tartare or Brussels sprouts gyozas.

The celebration family also does not have to do without Christmas roasts (including an extra chapter with the appropriate side dishes). Dixon works a lot with dough shells, such as the spectacular spinach and apricot wreath, which is reminiscent of Greek spanakopita, the artful sweet potato pie with beetroot or the probably indispensable mushroom roast Wellington for a British Vegan Christmas. The crowning glory of this genre, however, is the elaborate and fully aromatic recipe for a nut roast in the shape of a pie with four horizontal, alternating layers based on sweet potatoes, spinach, beetroot and a nut, almond and chestnut mixture flavoured with sage, rosemary, soy sauce and tahini.

Naturally, as with most vegan cookbooks, the sweets chapter is somewhat larger, as the aromatic renunciation of animal products is the least unpleasant here. Much more interesting, however, are the author's thoughts on the question of what to do with the unbelievable number of leftovers that are left over at the end of the festive celebration marathon. Dixon packs the nut roast leftovers into tortillas, bakes them into farinatas (chickpea pancakes), and turns leftover vegetables into dumplings, Indian dal, casseroles, and stews.

Very vegan, zero waste – the Christ Child can come. But only if it doesn't have leather shoes on.

Who needs it? Vegans who want to cook big or small for like-minded friends and relatives for Christmas.

Typical recipe? »Stuffed Butternut Squash with Lentils, Walnuts & Cranberries«

How much does it cost? 16,96 Euro

Donna Hay: "Christmas – Festive Enjoyment"

The Australian Donna Hay is one of the most widely read cookbook authors in the world, her recipes are enjoyed and successfully cooked by millions of people on all continents. You have to say that in advance, because Hay food really seems to taste good to almost every omnivore. So you can basically never go wrong with this book gift.

Hay's Christmas dishes usually require a little interest and experience in the kitchen, but they are all quite successful if you follow the preparation steps. The 272 pages are clearly and unsurprisingly divided into appetizers, main courses, sweets and snacks.

Even with the first recipes, you would quickly forget that Christmas is a celebration of love and not of sin. The latter are the crispy puff pastry tarts with a filling of onion caramel and melting brie. Or the juice-splashing, beetroot-marinated graved rainbow trout, the still warm fluffy gua bao yeast bun with lobster salad, the nest with crab noodles and sourdough crunch or the heavenly smoked salmon mascarpone pâté with tarragon. There is hardly a more festive way to start the Christmas dinner.

Hay's starter selection spans dozens of pages and also offers meat- and fish-free delights as well as dips for the whole family such as spinach and mint yoghurt, hummus with crunchy chickpeas or labne with pistachios and pomegranate: light, modern and globally popular snacks.

Hay only lets the notorious meat lust of the Australians into her book during the main courses, especially with the Down-Under equivalent to goose and turkey: the whole pork ham as a frying roast. It is teeming with incredibly appetizing photographed hams with glossy juniper-based glazes, with whiskey, oranges and ginger, pomegranate or apple-maple syrup miso.

Closer to the Northern European Christmas roast tradition are the many and often surprising recipes for turkeys, chicken, ducks and house chicks as breasts, halved whole or lengthwise, as rolled roasts, barded with bacon or artfully glazed. In addition to the poultry temptations, the recipes for various seafood are also worthwhile, but above all crispy pork: rolled roast, belly or knuckle, prepared in a completely different way and a real surprise on the Christmas table. Hay's range of side dishes also provides variety with all sorts of unusual salads and vegetable recipes, including honey almond and hasselback pumpkin, a toppled glazed root tart tatin or thyme parsnips braised in champagne.

Still not full? Nice, then a piece of fig-caramel trifle, fig-date-ice cream cake with brandy syrup or peach-raspberry-meringue tart fits into the stuffed holiday stomach. Or would you prefer a few dark clementine honeycomb truffles? On the 135 sweet pages of the book there is definitely enough space for the final Christmas sugar rush.

Who needs it? Anyone who wants to spoil their loved ones this Christmas with the great new ideas of one of the world's most successful cookbook authors.

Typical recipe? »Port Wine Pistachio Chicken with Quince Glaze«

How much does it cost? 37 Euro

Murielle Rousseau: "Christmas in Paris"

As a third tip for the gift table, there is not a pure collection of recipes, but one of the most loving travel books of the year - including one or two preparation instructions. The author Murielle Rousseau, who grew up in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and now commutes between Fribourg and the Loire, has created a gustatory homage to her native Paris on 192 pages together with her photographer colleague Marie Preaud – and at the same time a kind of culinary instruction manual for France's metropolis.

Paris is and remains the capital of love, but this also often enough goes through the stomach on the Seine. Rousseau takes us through a Paris that, in the pre-Christmas splendour, shines a little warmer than it already does: we wait with her over an éclair for Père Noël and learn how Santa Claus, but also literature, poetry and handicrafts are integrated into French festive traditions. During Christmas shopping, we discover classic wooden figurines, stationery, flea markets and delicatessen, but also the temptations of tea time, patisserie and chocolaterie, the night light walks and Christmas masses in the magnificent churches of the French capital. Very good: All information or tips are underpinned by the most important institutions and their addresses, or at least with further web links.

In between, Rousseau repeatedly sprinkles the appropriate cooking and baking recipes, well explained throughout and ready to cook. This means that you can also create French delicacies in your home kitchen, such as coffee éclairs, chestnut puree, brioche with truffle and parmesan shavings, saddle of venison in red wine, cheese soufflé with Comté or the legendary midnight onion soup Parisian style.

There are few books in which the special magic of an enchanting place is described as comprehensively and sensitively as in this one. There's really only one thing left for the Francophile to do: take your loved one to Paris on a super last-minute trip the day before Christmas Eve and browse the best tips of this beautiful recipe travel book on the spot.

Who needs it? Friends of the French way of life who want to know exactly how to celebrate Christmas in Paris.

Typical recipe? »Bresse chicken with black truffles and chestnut puree«

How much does it cost? 29,99 Euro

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