Check It Out: Kick it up a notch with holiday cooking

As autumn's shorter days and longer nights provide us with cool weather, more of us will be spending time indoors. With the holidays approaching and the cooking and baking season upon us, the Food Network on television is a popular destination for recipes and ideas. The Newport Beach Public Library has many of the most popular chefs' cookbooks, both new and old, to help plan for the holidays as well as provide recipe ideas for everyday meals.

Ina Garten, known for her "Barefoot Contessa" books, has a new title just in time for the holidays. "Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That? Fabulous Recipes and Easy Tips" is all about ease and comfort. Saving time and avoiding stress is the philosophy behind all her easy-to-follow recipes. Cooks who realize that they do not have the time to devote a whole day to cooking will find here, from appetizers to desserts, recipes calling for ingredients readily accessible in all grocery stores if not already in the kitchen cabinet. True to her trademark style, Garten once again shows that delicious food can be prepared with a minimum of fuss, even with guests on the way.

"Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh" is Emeril Lagasse's contribution to the recent spate of cookbooks celebrating locally produced American foods and illustrates his genius for amping up the flavor in foods. This one is highly recommended for those looking for inventive ideas for using local ingredients and includes such recipes as bay, thyme and rosemary roasted potatoes and pink lady apple martini.

Rachael Ray is a television favorite and the author of many easy-to-use cookbooks, including "Rachael Ray's Book of 10: More Than 300 Recipes to Cook Every Day." This latest cookbook includes her most-requested recipes from fans and her family and is jam-packed with 30 top 10 lists of recipes in all your favorite categories. There's a chapter on burgers with 10 Figure-Friendly Faves, lists of Date Night/Fake Outs for you and your special someone, Seafood for a Steal, and Potluck Picks. Ray has a recipe for you for every simple dinner, family meal and special occasion. There are endless ideas here for what to put on the table.

"Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals" is just the first step in Jamie Oliver's plan to fight obesity. Oliver also worked with Ryan Seacrest Productions on a 2010 reality TV series. His 100 recipes support his eat-better crusade by encouraging readers to try mix-and-match ingredients, especially when fashioning the basics of, say, an omelet or a salad. A great series of color photographs accompanying each recipe shows the main steps in food preparation.

The latest from Mario Batali, a James Beard Award winner who can be seen on "Iron Chef America," is "Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking." Featuring colorful pages and beautiful photographs, this is a cookbook that will appeal to the new chef. Recipes are organized by season and include helpful tips such as how to choose the right olive oil for olive oil gelato. These dishes, great for dinner parties and family get-togethers, use lots of fresh vegetables.

Help make your holiday season a delicious one. Visit the Newport Beach Public Library for these and hundreds of other cookbooks. Your family and guests will thank you!

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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