Specialty cookbooks for the holidays

This is the last in my cookbook posts for the year and today I’m sharing a few fall releases that don’t fall in a neat category – kind of single subject but also books focussing on certain types of food or cooking. I challenge you to read through this list, though and not find one you want for yourself!

Brunch Life

I can’t think of a better duo to write a cookbook featuring brunch recipes than Matt Basile and Kyla Zanardi. At the helm of Toronto’s Fidel Gastro (food truck/ Lisa Marie restaurant) for many years now, Matt is known for his over the top brunch food par excellence – and now you can bring this to your house!

BrunchLife cover on eatlivetravelwrite.comFrom the publisher:

“Leisurely weekend brunches have become the most anticipated meal of the week, and no two people know that better than Matt Basile and Kyla Zanardi. With their token humour, Matt and Kyla share their passion for this midday spread and showcase indulgent and creative takes on their favourite dishes […] Incredibly satisfying, easy to prepare, and perfect to share, these recipes will be dished out and devoured by friends and family.

Whether you’re hankering for a nostalgic bite–think Western Omelette Grilled Cheese–or looking for something on the lighter side, like Hearty Granola with Grilled Peaches, or you need a boozy drink to cap it all off (perhaps an Aperol Spritz Mimosa), Brunch Life has something for everyone. More than just food, brunch is also a culture. Featured throughout, Matt and Kyla share their travel adventures in six cities across North America–San Francisco, New York, Nashville, Seattle, Vancouver, and Toronto–and explore how this epic meal is enjoyed far and wide. Brimming with over 70 delectable recipes and gorgeous photography, it’s time to serve up a fresh take on this favourite weekend tradition that will inspire you to gather around your table any chance you get.”

I love this book as much for its tasty recipes as I do for the travel stories. Kyla was my photographer for In the French kitchen with kids and she was working on both books pretty much at the same time so I saw the huge amount of work travelling around all the cities to get the scoop on brunch actually was. It’s cool to see how the stories I heard have come alive in print! Matt is an endearing storyteller and writes just like he speaks –  it feels like he’s there in your kitchen with you, telling you about the inspiration for the dish or helping you through the recipe!

Speakng of recipes, there’s something for everyone – Classics, Brunch in Buns, Bennies for Brunch (hello!), Chicken and Waffles (my Petits Chefs got a sneak peek of one of these dishes!), Family-Style Brunch, Pancakes, Waffles and French Toast, “Brunch Lite”, Side Dishes and Drinks. Honestly, you never need to leave your house again for brunch! This is the perfect dish for lazy holiday mornings – or every Sunday morning from now on! Gorgeously photographed, you’ll bookmark every recipe!

Purchase Brunch Life on Amazon (this link should take you to the Amazon store closest to you). Or for free worldwide shipping, buy on The Book Depository


Pasta, Pretty Please

The fact that I’ve known Linda Miller Nicholson since my early days blogging means I’m a little bit biased 😉 I’ve watched her incredible growth from writing about food (always with an interesting angle and humour) to becoming a “pasta ninja” and am pretty proud to call her my friend. That said, she’s written an absolutely amazing book that all pasta enthusiasts should own and I’m seriously not just saying that because she’s my friend!

Pasta Pretty Please cover on eatlivetravelwrite.comFrom the publisher:

“Playful and inviting, Pasta, Pretty Please includes recipes, techniques, tips, and inspiration. Linda starts with recipes for basic doughs—standard egg dough, various gnocchi doughs—and works her way up to recipes for dough in many colorful shades. She teaches you just how many colors are pastable and what kinds of pigmented vegetables, fruits, and spices you can use to color your pasta […] She also shows you how to roll out dough, cut and form many pasta shapes, and gives tips for retaining brilliant colors even when cooked.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll find recipes for more elaborate patterns and colors that are sure to impress your family and friends. Linda reveals how to layer colors to make multi-colored doughs [and] you’ll also find recipes for spectacular sauces and fillings. […] Featuring beautiful pasta in a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes, patterns, and sizes, Pasta, Pretty Please is an artistic treasure trove that will please the eye and the palate.”

If the cover of the book makes you think “fun”, you’d be right. Linda brings a dose of fun to everything she does, but that doesn’t mean the book doesn’t address ALL you need to know about making pasta. From equipment to ingredients and a LOT of technique, this is the book every pasta lover needs in their life. Bonus? Getting veggies into your kids without it seeming like a chore (this is in fact why Linda started colouring pasta, to encourage her son to eat more vegetables!)! Here’s just a tiny selection of what’s in the book: Rainbow Cavatelli, Polka Dot Farfalle, Emoji Ravioli, Avocado Gnocchi, Hearts and Stripes Pappardelle, Argyle Lasagna Sheets, 6-Colored Fettucine. There are recipes for 25 doughs and 33 traditional as well as modern shaping techniques. There are lots of photos to illustrate the techniques which, as NOT a pasta ninja, I find extremely helpful.

This is a true feast for the eyes as well as the stomach and it’s a pretty darned good (and funny) read as well. It’s both inspirational as well as aspirational I need Santa to bring me some pasta making tools!) and, well, just so PRETTY!

Buy Pasta, Pretty Please on Amazon (this link should take you to the Amazon store closest to you). Or for free worldwide shipping, buy on The Book Depository


Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet and Savory Slab Pies

Another food writer I’m proud to call my friend is Cathy Barrow. I got to know her very well during a year-long “Charcutepalooza” where a group of people cooked their way through Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie book and have watched from the sidelines (cheering!) as she’s written a book on preserving, won a bunch of awards and gone on to write for, amongst other publications, The Washington Post. Her latest book, Pie Squared speaks to the delicious new trend of making pies baked on sheet pans!

Pie Squared cover on eatlivetravelwrite.comFrom the publisher: “For those of you who aren’t up on your Pinterest food trends, slab pie is just like regular pie-only better (and bigger)! Instead of crimping and meticulously rolling out a round crust, slab pies are an unfussy twist that are perfect for a potluck or dinner party or just a family dinner. Baked on sheet pans, slab pies can easily serve a crowd of people dinner or dessert. PIE SQUARED includes seventy-five foolproof recipes, along with inventive decoration tips that will appeal to baking nerds and occasional bakers alike. And this fresh, uncomplicated take on pie will surely pique the interest of those who have previously been reluctant to take out their rolling pin.

This book will have you wanting to eat pie morning noon and night and Cathy will have you feeling confident that you can do this. If you’re someone who’s always shied away from making your pie crust from scratch, this book will change your mind. Cathy offers invaluable help walking you through the process from the equipment that really is “must have” right down to “fun to have” items that you might consider once you’ve baked your first few pies. What I love though is that most recipes really only require the slab pie pan as the must have equipment, making this super accessible for everyone!

Cathy offers a “baker’s dozen” tips for slab  pie success (including “teach someone else. Pie is a community builder”) as well as step-by-step photos through the pastry (and pie) making process (her lattice-making tips are genius!). She’s got rolled out crusts, pressed-in crusts, grocery-store crusts (hooray for timesaving tips!) and “toppers” for pies with single crusts. And then come the pies themselves. SO MANY PIES, sweet and savory – pies for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and in-between – Hello Grande Mocha Cappuccino!). The recipes are easy to follow with gorgeous photography and will have your Post-its working overtime as you mark  ALL THE PIES you want to make.

Buy Pie Squared on Amazon (this link should take you to the Amazon store closest to you). Or for free worldwide shipping, buy on The Book Depository


Genius Desserts

Ok so “desserts” really isn’t a “specialty” type of cookbook but if you’re looking for something for the sweet tooth in your life (or, ahem, you!), this is a must. These desserts are the stuff of legends – recipes which will “change the way you cook”.

Genius Desserts cover on eatlivetravelwrite.comFrom the publisher:In this follow-up to the IACP award-winning, New York Times best-selling cookbook Genius Recipes, Food52 is back with the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the under-the-radar gems that will soon join their ranks)—in a collection that will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot. Drawing from her James Beard Award-nominated Genius Recipes column and powered by the cooking wisdom and generosity of the Food52 community, creative director Kristen Miglore set out to unearth the most game-changing dessert recipes from beloved cookbook authors, chefs, and bakers—and collect them all in one indispensable guide. 
This led her to iconic desserts spanning the last century: Maida Heatter’s East 62nd Street Lemon Cake, François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies, and Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Budino. But it also turned up little-known gems: a comforting Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust from Renee Erickson and an imaginative Parsnip Cake with Blood Orange Buttercream from Lucky Peach, along with genius tips, riffs, and mini-recipes, and the lively stories behind each one.”

This collection of recipes was sourced from the Food 52 Community (people who take their food very seriously!) – they follow all the “Genius” rules: They taste very, very good; They surprise us, They solve problems (ice cream without an ice cream maker? It’s possible!); They are (mostly) super easy; They surprise us and They innovate and move our baking forward. If you’ve always thought of baking as an exact science whose recipes mustn’t be played around with, you’ll find this book very liberating – it shares wisdom from some of the world’s top bakers and makes it accessible for you in your home kitchen. You’ll learn something new in each and every recipe – it’s like having the world’s best bakers in the kitchen with you and have you muttering “Now why didn’t *I* think of this?” as you vow to bake your way through each and every delicious, Genius recipe.

Buy Genius Desserts on Amazon (this link should take you to the Amazon store closest to you). Or for free worldwide shipping, buy on The Book Depository


You might also like:

Three Books for Francophiles for the Holidays

Kids’ Cookbooks for the Holidays

Books for Holiday Entertaining

Books for Home Cooks for the Holidays


Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!


Disclosure: I purchased Pasta, Pretty Please for myself. I was sent review copies of  Brunch Life, Pie Squared and Genius Desserts by the publishers. I was not asked to write about these books and am not being compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.