“Home Made Christmas” by Yvette van Boven, Abrams, 304 pages, hardcover, $35
Yvette van Boven, author of the Home Made cookbook series and host of a popular cooking show in Holland, offers recipes and tips for (almost) stress-free winter holiday entertaining Dutch style in her latest book, “Home Made Christmas.”
It features some 100 recipes she describes as easy and foolproof, plus a to-do list for an enormous dinner party, and 13 menu ideas ranging from a romantic dinner for two to a cold buffet for 12. It’s prettily illustrated with clever drawings and full-color photographs.
While her party ideas and tips will work in the United States as easily as in Holland, I doubt too many south Louisiana cooks will be interested in making pine syrup from pine twigs or mackerel tartlet. They might also have trouble finding Dutch nettle cheese for making her Dutch baby with steamed leeks. By the way, van Boven says while Dutch baby is a common brunch dish in the U.S., it’s not well known in the Netherlands because it’s actually a German dish brought to America by the German-speaking Pennsylvania Dutch and technically should be called a “Deutsch” baby.
Recipes are divided into nine chapters beginning with “The Morning” with such treats as Apple-Cranberry Christmas Rolls and Scottish Eggs and ending with pantry items like stock, vinaigrette and an onion-ginger compote for serving with cold meat or cheese. A couple of recipes use “crayfish,” which van Boven encourages her Dutch readers to eat more often because they “have become a real nuisance in our local waters — and besides they are delicious.”
I tested the book’s recipe for syrup pudding with ginger and orange. Not having a ½-liter pudding mold, I used a deep, ovenproof bowl as the author suggests and it worked fine. The recipe calls for using golden syrup or apple syrup. I used apple syrup which I found at Whole Foods, but I think I’d prefer the golden syrup when making this steamed cake again. Also, I definitely don’t recommend taking van Boven’s suggestion of decorating the cake or serving plate with mistletoe or a twig from the Christmas tree. Instead, stick to edible, nonpoisonous foods for decorations.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.