Several books devoted to getting the most from the holiday season have been published this year. All include recipes, but each also contains a variety of other helpful hints and assistance on everything from entertaining to returning a gift.
"Season's Greetings" by Marlene Sorosky (Harper & Row: $18.95, hardcover; Perennial Library: $8.95, paperback) is organized by each holiday, with recipes ranging from traditional Thanksgiving feasts to munchies for nibbling while watching the Bowl games.
In between are ideas for Christmas Eve suppers, a holiday open house, Christmas buffets, cocktail parties, breakfasts, teas and a New Year's party. All recipes may be partially or fully made ahead.
The book also includes ideas for party themes, menus, table decorations and gifts. Color photographs depict many of the recipes and tips.
Sorosky says her Orange Spiced Yam Pudding with crushed gingersnap crust "differs from mashed sweet potatoes, as it cuts into perfect portions." It would make an ideal accompaniment to turkey.
ORANGE SPICED YAM PUDDING
30 gingersnap cookies
1 (2-pound 8-ounce) can yams, drained
1 (1-pound 13-ounce) can yams, drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup sugar
Grated peel of 1 orange
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Crush gingersnaps to fine crumbs in food processor fitted with metal blade or with rolling pin. Reserve 1/2 cup for topping. Press remaining crumbs over bottom of 13x9-inch greased baking dish.
Place yams in large bowl and beat with electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, sugar and orange peel.
Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly pour in half and half and lemon and orange juices, mixing until incorporated. Pour mixture over crumb crust, smoothing top. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup crumbs. Dot with butter.
Bake, uncovered, in center of oven at 350 degrees 1 hour or until puffed and golden and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes before cutting into squares. Makes 12 to 14 servings.
Note: Casserole may be refrigerated or frozen after baking. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate or freeze. Before serving, bring to room temperature and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through.
"The Holidays" by John Hadamuscin (Harmony: $19.95) is a collection of 21 menus for elegant entertaining from Thanksgiving to Twelfth Night. Each is preceded by a timetable, table-setting tips and beverage suggestions to assist with a key element to successful entertaining--organization.
Beginning with ideas for make-ahead gifts, the book goes on to cover a harvest dinner for Thanksgiving, cookie baking, tree-trimming and wassailing buffets and a feast of seven fishes. There's also a selection of Christmas and New Year's brunches and breakfasts.
The choice of Christmas Day menus includes plantation, Dickensian and nouvelle dinners as well as a king's feast. Then it's on to a candlelight dinner for New Year's Eve and a Rose Bowl tailgate party. The book concludes with a diet dinner to get the New Year started off right. Sixteen pages of color photographs accompany the more than 200 recipes.
Hadamuscin describes his Steamed Ginger Pudding as a "light, golden pudding" that is "a nice alternative to the more traditional and heavier plum pudding." He considers the Cranberry Fool "a perfect contrast in color, temperature and texture to Steamed Ginger Pudding."
STEAMED GINGER PUDDING
2 cups (1 pound) butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup sugar
5 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups milk
1 cup chopped preserved ginger
3/4 cup red currant jelly
Cream butter and sugar together in large bowl. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Beat into butter mixture. Slowly beat in milk, then stir in preserved ginger.
Grease 2-quart pudding mold. Pour in batter and secure lid, or use turk's head mold covered with foil. Place mold in large kettle and pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up sides of mold. Cover kettle and place over medium heat.
Steam pudding about 2 1/2 hours or until wood pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Replenish hot water as necessary during steaming. (Pudding may be made to this point up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.)
Allow pudding to cool about 1 hour before serving. If made ahead, bring to room temperature, then steam about 45 minutes before serving.
To glaze pudding, melt red currant jelly in small heavy saucepan and cook until syrupy, 5 to 7 minutes. Unmold pudding and invert onto serving plate, then brush with glaze, covering pudding completely. Serve warm pudding cut into thin slices, topping each serving with generous dollop of Cranberry Fool. Makes 12 servings.