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Williams-Sonoma Collection: Christmas

Williams-Sonoma Collection: <i>Christmas</i>
The scent of brown sugar and cloves, the sparkle of candied citrus and the comfort of spiced cider—from winter kitchens come the festive treats of the holiday season. Christmas, one of the newest titles in the Williams-Sonoma Collection series, captures this celebratory spirit.

Author Carolyn Miller, a San Francisco food writer, draws from traditional menus, adding bright color and fresh flavors to winter classics. You'll find dishes to suit every holiday occasion, be it an open house for colleagues, a sit-down Christmas dinner or a Hanukkah celebration. The recipes are as easy as they are elegant, and many of them can be prepared in advance, so you'll have time to enjoy the festivities.

Serve creamy crab bisque, finished with sherry and fresh tarragon, as a sumptuous first course or as a satisfying fireside supper accompanied with warm, crusty bread and a salad of winter greens. Dress up a baked ham with a crackling brown sugar and rum glaze that tingles with a hint of cayenne pepper. A wild rice pilaf, studded with dried cranberries and toasted pecans, makes a hearty side dish for the holiday roast.

Seasonal ingredients ensure entertaining is both simple and successful. Ripe pears add a delicious fruitiness to an English trifle layerd with sponge cake. Crisp, golden potato latkes are topped with a ginger-infused chutney made from both fresh and dried fruit, while cranberries enliven a steamed persimmon pudding.

A chapter devoted to breakfast features special dishes for holiday mornings, including a souffléd omelet and almond scones paired with tangerine curd. French toast is magically transformed when prepared with panettone, the golden Italian egg bread studded with dried fruits.

The basics chapter offers helpful tips for cooking the main course, whether you're roasting a rack of lamb or a whole turkey. A section on deglazing will inspire you to make quick, flavorful sauces during the holidays and beyond. Since hosting a memorable event involves more than just cooking, the book also covers planning a menu, estimating quantities and getting organized so your gathering will be stress free.

A full-page color photograph accompanies each recipe, and sidebars offer advice on everything from brining to making citrus curd. A detailed glossary provides essential information on ingredients and equipment.

Whatever your plans this holiday season, entertaining will be easier and tastier with Christmas guiding you in the kitchen.