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Giveaway: The Whole Hog Cookbook

Bacon and Cheese Puffers

Get your holiday party started with savory, irresistible Bacon and Cheese Puffers from The Whole Hog Cookbook. Photograph by Chia Chong.

For cool new holiday recipes or a last-minute gift for the pork lover in your life, The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers is a great find. Libbie is a recipe developer and food stylist for Paula Deen, and I was excited to chat with her about her unique new cookbook.

Libbie was inspired by her hog-farmer grandparents, especially her “sassy grandmother,” to write a book covering the whole hog, not just bacon and pork chops. “I have no recollection of them throwing anything away,” she says. But it’s also about the rich flavor and fat that runs through unexpected pig parts, like the shanks and the hocks. Of all the unusual recipes in her cookbook (chitlins, anyone?), Libbie hopes people will try making pork cracklings – she takes a bucket of them on the road with her to book signings and they’re a sure crowd-pleaser.

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The Ultimate Cookie Cookbook Giveaway

Cookie Cookbooks

We're givng away a collection of the season's best cookie cookbooks, plus everyone can try a few sample recipes.

The best part about the holiday season is cookies, cookies and more cookies! And when it comes to recipes, I never get tired of searching for the next super-star new cookie to grace this year’s holiday cookie plate. Of course, we’ve collected some amazing new recipes (and made-over old faves) for Cooking Channel’s all-star cookie swap, but I’ve also had my eye on a few of the new cookie cookbooks out there. Here are some new ones, plus sample recipes to get you baking.

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Cookbook Giveaway: Recipes from The Meatball Shop

Even the most stubborn of meat-eaters will ask for seconds of these veggie balls.

It’s no secret America has long held a love affair with meatballs. The epitome of comfort food, they’re quintessentially American: familiar, accessible, affordable. Whether tossed in spaghetti, sandwiched between bread or plucked from hors d’oeuvre plates, eating them almost always inspires warm, nostalgic feelings. It seems all too appropriate that a restaurant centered its entire menu around the little morsels.

Since its beginnings as a small outpost in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, The Meatball Shop has opened its doors to two other New York City neighborhoods. With lines that circle the block and food that comes up in conversation days and even weeks later, it’s no wonder Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow’s innovative eatery has become a Manhattan mainstay.

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Cookbooks for Gifting (and Trying)

Cookbooks for Gifts

Our desks have been overflowing with mountains of amazing new cookbooks this year, covering all cuisine and every niche imaginable (like biscuits and mini pies). So we were thrilled to see the New York Times editors’ top cookbook picks for 2011 – great for holiday gifts or for adding to your own collection.

We’ve covered a few of their picks ourselves, plus we have sample recipes. So before you start buying, get cooking!

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Cookbook Giveaway: Basic to Brilliant, Y’all

Brunswick Stew is a Southern staple, great for cool fall evenings and family get-togethers. Photograph by Helene Dujardin (c) 2011

Basic to Brilliant, Y'allVirginia Willis gives Southern food a brilliant makeover in her new cookbook, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company. I caught up with Virginia via email to chat about her new cookbook.

What was your inspiration for writing this cookbook?
First, I’ve always loved to cook. There are photos of me at 3 years old standing on a chair making biscuits with my grandmother. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the world. I’ve also lived and worked in NYC, D.C. and France, and worked with or dined at the restaurants of some of the finest chefs in the world. My work experiences with Bobby Flay, Michael Lomonaco and Martha Stewart were incredibly educational. Everything I eat seems to be inspiration for my cooking and food writing. In that time away from the South, I also grew to actually appreciate the South even more. Like many expatriates, I returned home with a better sense of place than I would have had if I had never left. In my travels, I built upon what my grandmother and mother had taught me, a solid repertoire of basic fundamental techniques. My eyes had been wondrously opened to just how brilliant the world of food — and home — could be.

How do you fuse your Southern background with French cooking techniques?
It wasn’t really a choice or a decision, it’s just the way I cook. I am Southern and love the food and culture of the South. However, I am French-trained and understand the techniques and tricks of the trade in the kitchen. I call my style of food and cooking “Refined Southern Cuisine.” I want to share with the world that Southern food is more than fried chicken and cornbread. We have a 10 month growing season – we’ve been eating seasonal and local for generations. And, Southern food doesn’t have to be trapped in the past – it’s a vibrant, dynamic cuisine. I don’t forget the past, but I also don’t ignore the future. The bottom line is that my Southern heritage and French training make for really good food.

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Cookbook Giveaway: Cutie Pies

Cutie Pies

Key Lime Pie is a year-round fave – make them bite-sized with a mini-muffin pan.

Cutie Pies CookbookMini pies are the cupcakes of the pie world, and they’re surprisingly easy to make – you can just use a muffin pan! In Cutie Pies by Dani Cone, owner of High 5 Pie in Seattle, the secret to perfect homemade mini pies is revealed with 40 sweet and savory recipes. And the best part is, you can mix and match crust types and pie shapes, making: “cutie pies” baked in muffin pans; “petit-5s” baked in mini-muffin pans; “piejars” baked in half-pint mason jars; “flipsides” which are like hand-held turnovers; “piepops” which is pie on a stick or, go traditional and make these recipes into full-size pies.

This cookbook will have you baking pies, pies and more pies, through all seasons and for any occasion. But, of course, it’s most useful with Thanksgiving and holiday office parties right around the corner – cute little mini pies are easy to transport and serve (no slicing required). Plus, savory offerings like Mac’n’Cheese Cutie Pies and Salmon, Cream Cheese and Dill Peti-5s would make wonderful, creative Thanksgiving and holiday appetizers – a host’s secret for keeping guests munching and mingling happily.

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Cookbook Giveaway: Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe

From-scratch Banana Pudding is a simple, classic Southern dessert. Photographs by Karen Mordechai.


You don’t have to be a Southerner to appreciate the iconic desserts served up at the Nashville landmark, The Loveless Cafe, and highlighted in the new cookbook, Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe. The café opened in 1951 and became popular for fried chicken and biscuits, but in 2004 it was expanded and reopened with a dessert menu developed by the cafe’s new pastry chef, Culinary Institute of America graduate Alisa Huntsman. These are nostalgic, classic desserts like pies, puddings, cakes and cobblers – simple, easy and elegant, just like Mama (or someone’s “mama”) used to make.

This is the cookbook of my dreams: Every recipe looks beautiful and delicious, yet simple enough to throw together on a weeknight or on short notice. You can give a few sample recipes a spin with these Southern crowd-pleasers:

  • Loveless Banana Pudding – The base of this Southern classic is a simple from-scratch vanilla pudding that comes together in only 15 minutes.
  • Red Velvet Cake – A good amount of cocoa powder gives this cake a distinct chocolate flavor, but the festive red color makes it the perfect cake for holiday celebrations.

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Cookbook Giveaway: Ching’s Everyday Easy Chinese

Black Pepper Beef and Stir-Fry

You can have Ching's veggie-packed Black Pepper Beef and Stir-Fry on the table in 35 minutes.

Cooking Channel chef Ching-He Huang simplifies and lightens up Chinese food in her TV shows Chinese Food Made Easy and Easy Chinese: San Francisco (find great recipes from her shows here). In her new cookbook, Ching’s Everyday Easy Chinese, Ching gives her special touch to Chinese takeout favorites and traditional foods, delivering more than 100 quick, easy and healthy Chinese recipes.

Ching’s cookbook is organized and reads like your favorite Chinese takeout menu, stepped up a notch or two. It starts with a few breakfast offerings (Pork, Ginger and Duck Egg Congee) and then dives into soups and appetizers (Pork and Shrimp Fried Wontons). Main dishes are divided into poultry (Kung Po Chicken); beef, pork and lamb (Cantonese-Style Sweet-and-Sour Pork); fish and shellfish (Spicy Sweet Jumbo Shrimp); and then vegetarian dishes. There’s even a section with “Specials,” or special occasion foods for get-togethers, like Chili Bean Braised Beef.

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Cookbook Giveaway: The Apple Lover’s Cookbook

Apple-Studded Brown Butter Streusel Coffee Cake is an easy apple dessert, great for using sweet apples.

Apple season is in full swing, and that means apples are crisper, sweeter and riper than ever, with dozens of varieties available at pick-your-own orchards and farmers’ markets. And if you find yourself trying to decide between Mutsu, Empire, Cortland, Pink Lady and other unfamiliar apple varieties, wondering which is good for cooking, baking and eating out-of-hand, The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso is the perfect book to have by your side.

Amy includes a reference section that describes 59 great apple varieties in-depth (with pictures!), but for ease of use, she also divides all apples into four general categories: firm-tart, firm-sweet, tender-tart and tender-sweet. There’s even an “apple varieties cheat sheet,” dividing the apples into these categories, that I may Xerox before heading to the farmers’ market.

The recipes, which span from savory meat pies to apple tarts and breakfast through dinner dishes, all include a general apple category suggestion (and occasionally a specific variety suggestion), so you’ll know you’re using the best type of apple for each recipe. It’s amazing and sure to get you out of the familiar Granny-Smith-for-baking rut.

A rustic Free-Form Apple-Pear-Cranberry Tart makes an impressive dessert for any get-together.

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Cookbook Giveaway: The Kimchi Chronicles

Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)

Fiery, fermented kimchi makes an easy weeknight meal when made into Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew), a Korean standby. Photograph by Andre Baranowski.

The Kimchi Chronicles

I had never tasted Korean food until I moved to New York City six years ago. But now, I often crave a good tofu soup or bibimbap, served with spicy banchan, the small bowls of pickled veggies served with every Korean meal. The spices and flavors of Korean food are absolutely addictive, and now, with The Kimchi Chronicles by Marja Vongerichten, completely demystified and attainable at home.

Marja Vongerichten was born in Korea, the daughter of an American serviceman and a Korean woman, and adopted by American parents. At 20 she reconnected with her birth mother who by then lived in New York City, and Marja has been rediscovering and embracing her Korean heritage through food. In The Kimchi Chronicles, her PBS series, she and her husband, none other than chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, travel through Korea for inspiration and then cook up modern takes on Korean foods. This cookbook is a collection of their culinary creations: traditional favorites (like Bulgogi, a Korean barbecue classic) and fascinating fusions (like Korean Baeckeoffe, Jean-Georges’ Korean twist on an Alsatian casserole).

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