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Holiday Cookbooks

Stoveside Reading

December 19, 1996|BARBARA HANSEN

In last week's issue of Food, we described our favorite cookbooks of the year. But that list left out several excellent books. Here are a few more good books for giving--and for keeping.

--LAURIE OCHOA

*

"Short Tails and Treats from Three Dog Bakery," by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff (Andrews & McMeel, $14.95).

Crumpets, cookies, peanut butter cups, after-dinner mints. There's lots of great-sounding stuff in this book. Ah, but don't touch. It's not for you; it's for your dog. The recipes are from the Three Dog Bakery in Kansas City, an outfit that caters exclusively to canines. Six years ago, authors Dye and Beckloff started the business with the help of three tasters--Sarah Jean, Dottie Louise and Gracie Marie, respectively a lab mix, Dalmatian and Great Dane. They're the three you see on the cover and in photos throughout the book, which, as you might expect, is full of doggerel.

Unless you're a cat owner, you'll want to sign up for the bakery's "dogalog," from which you can order fancy-looking gift packs, dog biscuit mixes, kitty cookies and some really scrumptious frosted cakes (made with carob, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, corn meal and honey). You can also enroll your dog in programs that issue regular shipments of treats. For the person at the other end of the leash, there are logo T-shirts, caps and dog-printed boxer shorts.

So instead of buying one of those mesh stockings bulging with biscuits and toys, slip this book under the tree. Your best friend will be thrilled. And you'll have fun reading the history of this novel enterprise.

*

"Camille Glenn's Old-Fashioned Christmas Cookbook" (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $21.95).

At 86, Glenn has seen enough Christmases to make her a sure bet in writing about this holiday. I find her book totally charming, full of recipes I'd like to try--not just at Christmas but throughout the year. Author of "The Heritage of Southern Cooking," Glenn lives in Louisville, Ky. It follows that her recipes are laced with Southern flavor. There's also a warm, homey touch, not so much in the recipes, which are sophisticated enough for any table, but in her recollections of family traditions and Christmases past.

The menu format gives ideas for tree-trimming parties, Christmas tea, Christmas Eve supper and every meal on Christmas Day. When she finishes with that holiday, Glenn moves on to New Year menus.

If you haven't decided on the main dish for Christmas dinner, Glenn suggests roast turkey breast lined with country ham, roast quail with tarragon, pork loin roast with cider and poached apples or marinated beef tenderloin with old English walnut sauce. Her book is not a rehash of the commonplace but a fresh look at a delightful time of year.

*

"International Baking Delights," by Lee Hwa Lin (Chin-Chin Publishing, $19.95).

Published in Taipei, this book offers a Taiwanese take on cakes, cookies and other treats that are basically Western in origin. But where in the West would you get doughnuts stuffed with red bean paste or coconut-filled buns topped with corn and piped with mayonnaise?

A few recipes are totally Chinese, like the egg tarts that you get at dim sum restaurants, and Cantonese mooncakes. Others are as non-exotic as "American" strawberry cake and oatmeal-raisin cookies. Still others sound familiar but aren't quite what a Western cook would expect, like cheesecake made with Cheddar cheese and a dash of corn flour, or a cake that's baked in a succession of 1/4-inch layers.

Simpler recipes that appeal include peanut-cocoa meringues and peanut butter cookies made with cake flour. If you are willing to fuss a bit, try one of the prettiest concepts in the book, chrysanthemum pastries with petals that reveal bean paste filling.

Author Lin is director of the Wei-Chuan Cooking School in Taipei, which produced this collection of 77 recipes. Wei-Chuan Publishing in Monterey Park is the distributor here. To get a feel for the contents, drop into the Taiwanese bakeries in and around Monterey Park. There you'll see the salad-filled buns, tender loaf breads and luscious cakes and pastries that you can recreate with the help of the step-by-step illustrations in this book.

It's worth noting that Taiwanese like less sugar in their baked goods than Americans, which assures at least a minimal break on calories.

*

"Music & Menus for Christmas," by Willi Elsener (Macmillan, $25). If you're shy on Christmas spirit, you'll turn into an enthusiast after reading this book. Elsener, executive chef of the Dorchester hotel in London, has put together a dozen menus--one for each of the 12 days of Christmas, you might say. His book fairly glows with tradition, starting with the handsome photograph of flaming Christmas pudding next to the title page. Charming drawings, like old-fashioned Christmas card motifs, head each menu introduction. The compact disc inserted in the cover provides 23 Christmas carols performed by English choirs.

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