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Best Cookbooks for Last Minute Holiday Giving

The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook: From Delicious Dole Whip to taste Mickey Pretzels, 100 Magical Disney-Inspired Recipes.

Ashley Craft

Adams Media $14.99 Amazon price

Mickey Pretzels

Serves 4

1⁄2 cup warm water (110°F)

1 (1⁄4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons salt, divided

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon room-temperature water, divided

1⁄4 cup baking soda

1 large egg

4 teaspoons Kosher salt

‌In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit 10 minutes.

‌Add brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Using the flat beater attachment, beat on low speed to combine. Mix in flour. Switch to dough hook attachment and knead 5 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic.

‌Remove dough and spray bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Return dough to bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large ungreased baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large pot over high heat, bring 4 cups water to a boil.

‌Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into eight equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll dough into a rough heart shape. Using a sharp knife, lightly score or scrape the Mickey shape into the dough. Once you’ve achieved your desired shape, cut all the way through the dough.

‌Add baking soda to pot of boiling water. Working with one Mickey at a time, use a big, flat spatula to carefully lift a dough Mickey into baking-soda bath, and poach 15 seconds. Remove to prepared baking sheet.

‌In a small bowl, mix together egg and remaining 1 tablespoon water. Brush onto Mickeys. Sprinkle remaining salt over pretzels.

‌Bake until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.


The Nutella Ring from Pizza: History, recipes, stories, people, places, love. Photo by Dave Brown.

Pizza: History, recipes, stories, people, places, love

Thom Elliott & James Elliott

Quadrille Publishing $29.99

An amazing book totally about pizza from recipes for such stunning varieties like Mortadella & Pistachio pie to city guides on where to get the best pizza when in Rome, Naples, Paris, and Chicago as well as a chapter on great pizza pop cultural moments. And that’s just for starters.

The Nutella Ring

4 ½ ounces Neapolitan pizza dough (see recipe below)

1 ½ ounces ricotta

3 ½ ounces Nutella

Sea salt

Ice cream, to serve

Preheat your oven as hot as it will go.

Using your fingertips, stretch out the dough into a long rectangle about 35cm/14in long and 12cm/5in wide.

Using a spoon, spread the ricotta over the dough lengthways in a long line. Then spoon as much Nutella as you can onto the dough in a long line down the middle of the ricotta. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Fold the dough over itself lengthways so you have a long Nutella parcel, then, using a closed fist, hammer the long edge to ensure a really strong seal on the dough.

Bring the ends of the parcel around to create a ring (with the seam on the inside) and press the two ends of dough together, using your fist again to make a strong seal.

Bake until the ring has inflated, and the crust is golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Making Neapolitan Pizza Dough

Tip: Weigh out all your ingredients before you start.

35 ounces ‘00’ flour—the authors recommend Caputo ‘blue’ which can be purchased on Amazon or your can substitute semolina flour

⅔ teaspoon fresh yeast

 21 fluid ounces tepid water

1 ounce fine sea salt

Make a mountain of flour in the middle of the table. Using your fist, make a deep well in the middle of the flour, exposing the surface of the table (turning your mountain into a moon crater).

Crumble the yeast into the tepid water. Use your good hand to mash up the yeast in the water until it has dissolved. Fill your crater of flour with a third of the yeast/water mix. Using your fingertips, start making very small circular motions to combine the flour and water.

Start dragging in some more flour to the mix, by ‘undercutting’ the walls of the crater with your fingertips. As you do this the mixture in the middle will become thicker. Once it reaches the consistency of porridge you need to add a bit more water. Don’t let it get too thick; if it starts to form a dough too soon it becomes difficult to incorporate the rest of the water. Keep dragging in a little flour to thicken the mix, then pouring a little bit more water in to loosen it, until you have all the water used up.

Sprinkle the sea salt over the mixture while it’s still very wet to ensure it dissolves and disperses evenly throughout the dough. Now use both hands to push the remaining flour from the outside into the middle. Fold and press the mix until all the flour is absorbed, and a dough comes together. If you have a dough scraper it really helps get everything off the table, but you can improvise with a paint scraper, spatula, or knife.

Work the gluten by kneading the dough. Use the heel of your hand to stretch out the dough and roll it back up, while the other hand acts like an anchor. You’ll be able to see the strands of gluten stretching, breaking, being put back together, and becoming stronger. Continue this for about 8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and glossy. It should also feel tighter and elastic.

Let the dough have a 10-minute rest to relax the gluten. Cover the dough with a damp cloth or some plastic wrap to keep the air from drying it out. Then divide your bulk of dough into individual portions. Ensure your dough balls are neatly shaped – pinched at the bottom and tight on the top – then place them in a tray or container 1-inch apart. Cover with a tight lid or plastic wrap.

Leave the dough at room temperature for approximately 6 hours until it expands to almost double its size, then store in the fridge overnight. The next day remove the dough from the fridge for 1–2 hours and bring it back to room temperature before making your pizzas.

Cod en Papillote with Spinach, Olives and Mediterranean Herbs

Dinner’s in the Bag: 60 Easy Oven Recipes All Wrapped Up

by Louise Kenney

Quadrille Publishing ($5.71 current Amazon price)

It doesn’t have to be a bag, you could instead use foil, baking parchment or oven-proof plastic and silicone bags, but the concept is the same with all these recipes—easy, quick, and little to clean up afterwards. Recipes include Roasted rhubarb with vanilla, orange and cinnamon and Pineapple en papillote with honey, thyme, and rum.

Cod en Papillote with Spinach, Olives and Mediterranean Herbs

Serves 2

½ cup pitted black olives

2 anchovy fillets in oil

4 thyme stalks, leaves picked

4 oregano stalks, leaves picked

1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley

1 lemon

olive oil

14-ounce can butter beans, drained and rinsed

4 ¼ ounces baby leaf spinach, washed

2 cod loins (approx. 5 ½ ounces each)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

6 radishes, sliced

a handful of pea shoots

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a baking dish with a large piece of parchment or foil, or an oven bag.

Finely chop the olives, anchovy fillets and herbs together. Mix together with juice from half of the lemon in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and add a little glug of olive oil.

In a separate bowl, combine the butter beans with the spinach leaves and two-thirds of the olive and herb mixture. Drizzle in a little more olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Tip into the lined baking dish and spread everything out evenly.

Slice the remaining lemon half into 4–6 slices and lay these on top of the spinach and beans. Place the cod loins on top of the lemon slices, season with salt and pepper and spread the remaining herby olive mixture over the fish. Close up the parcel and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes. (If using an oven bag, snip a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape.)

When cooked, unwrap and serve with the radish slices and pea shoots scattered over the top.

Buttermilk & Bourbon: New Orleans Recipes with a Modern Flair

Jason Santos

Page Street Publishing $15.29 Amazon price

Santos, who owns a Louisiana-centric restaurant in Boston, offers up some great recipes such as Deviled Egg Toast with Country Ham and Hot Pepper Salad, Cast Iron-Baked Brie, and Flamin’ Hot Cheeto Mac & Cheese, the most popular dish at his restaurant. 

Flamin’ Hot Cheeto Mac & Cheese

Serves 4

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 cup  meat scraps, diced (bacon, andouille, pork belly, ham, etc.)

½ cup  diced celery

¾ cup diced shallots

1 tablespoon  minced garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup white wine

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup half & half

½ cup  grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded fontina

½ cup shredded yellow cheddar

½ cup shredded gouda

½ pound  campanelle pasta, cooked (can substitute fusilli, penne, rigatoni, macaroni, or rotini

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup spicy cheese puffs (I like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos), slightly crushed

¼ cup minced chives

½ cup spicy cheese puffs, whole

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and sauté the meat scraps until lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the meat, reserving the fat. Then add the celery, shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 minutes to incorporate. Deglaze with the wine and reduce by half, about 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves, thyme, cream cheese, heavy cream, and half & half. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add the Parmesan, fontina, cheddar and gouda and simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove the bay leaves and puree the entire mixture with a stick blender (or in batches using a regular blender/food processor). Add the meat scraps back to the pot.

Combine the sauce with pasta and season with salt and pepper.

Divide the mixture into 4 casserole dishes. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and combine with the crushed Cheetos, and scatter on top of the pasta mixture. Bake for about 7 minutes or until bubbly. Garnish with chives and the whole Cheetos.

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