My Must-Have Cookbook List: Holidays 2017

Holiday Shopping season is certainly here! Sometimes it can feel overwhelming when we look at all of the options for what we might want to buy for our love ones. But, if you have a food lover in your life, I’m here to make things easier! These 7 cookbooks are at the top of my list when it comes to cooking in 2017/2018. You can’t go wrong with these titles. Happy shopping, cooking, and eating!

  1. Sweet: Desserts from London’s Ottolenghi Two of Ottolenghi’s other cookbooks, Jerusalem and Plenty, are already staples in my cookbook arsenal. They offer very clear instructions and gorgeous imagery. When I heard that they were going to be releasing a dessert cookbook, I was thrilled to include it on my counter top. Below, I’ve included the most recent recipe that I’ve tested from the book, their Gingerbread Cake with Brandied Apples. It’s a great addition to any holiday table!
  2. Bobby Flay Fit: 200 Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle Bobby is a good friend of mine and I’ve been on his show several times. I’m always amazed how he seems to look younger and younger every time I see him. Of course, he has to stay fit for the regular beatings he takes on his show Beat Bobby Flay!
  3. Kitchen Creativity: Unlocking Culinary Genius—with Wisdom, Inspiration, and Ideas from the World’s Most Creative Chefs More good friends of mine, I absolutely delight in the work that Karen and Andrew have created. This tome should be studied and kept on the shelf as a reference for any aspiring chef. They’ll help you to release the power within you to create the most amazing meals.
  4. 5 Ingredients – Quick & Easy Food Now, Jamie Oliver is not a friend of mine, but I just love his approach to cooking. His photos are always beautiful and the recipes are always easy to follow. Every time I dig into one of his books it feels like I can hear his voice narrating me through the process.
  5. Dinner in an Instant: 75 Modern Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot® If you missed the previous post about it, I’ve recently acquired my own Instant Pot. It’s a wonderful machine, but it certainly takes some getting used to. This book really helps to show off the Instant Pot and will help you create easy and delicious recipes.
  6. The Kitchen Sleuth Trade Book Henry has been a friend for 30 years and I’m so excited to try his recipes. He’s been working on this book for 2 years, but the recipes come from his long career in some of New York’s most high-profile eateries. The book’s layout is so beautiful and clean. It’s not just a cookbook, but a piece of history with recipes like the famous  Gotham Salad he created which is still served at Bergdorf’s today!
  7. Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites Everyone’s been raving about the latest cookbook out of the Smitten Kitchen, and it’s no surprise. As fellow food bloggers we can appreciate a great food blog, and Deb’s is one of our favorites. The recipes are always fresh and easy to follow, but the result makes you feel like you’re treating yourself. So go for it–it’s the Holiday season, after all!


Let’s All Eat Cake!

Ottolenghi's Gingerbread Cake with Brandied Apples
Ottolenghi's Gingerbread Cake with Brandied Apples
Print Recipe Ottolenghi's Gingerbread Cake with Brandied Apples
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: comfort, Fall, Holiday, Winter


Gingerbread Cake

  • 1 cup blackstrap molasses
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3 large eggs
  • teaspoons fresh orange zest
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cups just boiled water
  • ½ cup finely chopped crystallized or candied ginger

Brandy Apples

  • 5 Pink Lady apples
  • tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ vanilla pod sliced open lengthwise
  • 2 strips of peel of one large lemon
  • tablespoons brandy
  • tablespoons lemon juice
  • teaspoon salt
  • cups crème fraîche


Gingerbread Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a high-sided 9-inch round (or 8-inch square) spring form pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang at the sides to help you remove the cake from the pan Iater on.
  • Place the molasses, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, and orange zest in a medium bowl and whisk together by hand, or using a handheld electric mixer, until combined.
  • Sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt together in a separate larger bowl, then pour in the molasses mixture. Stir to combine and add the just boiled water, whisking immediately to combine.
  • Stir in the crystallized ginger, then pour the mixture into the cake pan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring the cake to a serving platter.

Brandy Apples

  • While the cake is cooling, peel and core the apples and cut into 2/3-inch slices.
  • Place a large non-stick saute pan over high heat and once hot add about half of the apples.
  • Sear for 2 minutes, turning regularly until they are a nice golden color.
  • Remove from the pan, wipe it clean and repeat with the remaining apples.
  • Add these to the first batch and return the pan to medium heat.
  • Place the butter in the pan and, once melted, add the sugar, vanilla pod and lemon peel.
  • Return the apples to the pan, stir well to coat, and cook for 5 minutes, until the apples are soft but still holding their shape.
  • Pour in the brandy, lemon juice and salt and reduce for 3 minutes over medium-high heat, until the sauce is thick but not caramelized.
  • Spoon some of the warmed apples over each portion of cake and add a spoonful of crème fraîche.




Links are provided through Amazon’s Associate program. Pamela Morgan has not been paid to write this blog, or endorse these books, but would receive a small stipend for sales made through these links.