Cookbook reviews: Winter cocktails and a new book from Giada De Laurentiis

Published Dec. 9, 2013

.TITLE: Giada's Feel Good Food: My Healthy Recipes and Secrets by Giada De Laurentiis (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 256 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: This cookbook is quintessential Giada De Laurentiis. If there was no title to the cookbook, you'd know they were her recipes by the ingredients. Many of the recipes contain her favorite grains such as quinoa, farro and bulgur, to name a few. Another telltale sign that this is a Giada cookbook? The nibbler recipes she includes. She has a knack for snack recipes such as cinnamon kettle corn and smoked almonds. The recipes are suited for any taste and skill level.

FOR: If you are a fan of Giada's you'll want this book in your collection. If you're not, you'll want the book for the healthful aspects. The recipes are flavorful without a lot of fat and use healthful ingredients such as whole wheat and multigrain products.

RECIPES: Chewy Granola Bars, Vegetarian Chili Verde, Halibut With Artichoke and Olive Caponata, Stuffed Red Bell Peppers With Whole Wheat Couscous and Avocado Sauce, Chocolate Fig Bites and updated Waldorf Salad With Apple Vinaigrette.

.TITLE: Fine Cooking Soups & Stews: No-Fail Recipes for Every Season by editors of Fine Cooking (Taunton Press, $17.95, 235 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Maybe the cool weather we had recently put you in the mood for soup or stew. This cookbook offers classic recipes like tomato soup and classic chicken pot pie as well as more unfamiliar dishes like chicken, lemon and olive stew. Some recipes have a long list of ingredients and even longer instructions that can be intimidating. Don't fear. Many of the techniques are simple and can be achieved by most any home cook.

FOR: People who enjoy the comfort, and the warmth, that soups and stews provide. If you enjoy a simmering pot on the stove or want something quickly, you will find recipes for both.

RECIPES: Spiced Lentil Soup With Herbed Yogurt, Bouillabaisse, Farmhouse Ragout With Pesto, Cinnamon Beef Noodle Soup, Root Vegetable and Barley Soup With Bacon, Potatoes and Porcini, Yogurt and Lime and Parsnip and Parmesan soup.

.TITLE: Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks by Maria del Mar Sacasa and Tara Striano (Quirk Books, $22.95, 159 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Many party planners suggest serving a signature drink to guests, a drink that friends and family come to expect at your gatherings. If you're looking for such a beverage, Winter Cocktails may have just the thing. It is important to mention that some of these beverages are labor intensive. For example, the Homemade Sangria requires you to make homemade sour mix or homemade blood orange sour mix before you even begin to mix the sangria. There are many classic drink recipes as well as some that appear to be original.

Dig in to Tampa Bay’s food and drink scenes

Dig in to Tampa Bay’s food and drink scenes

Subscribe to our free Taste newsletter

Get the restaurant and bar news, insights and reviews you crave from food and dining critic Helen Freund every Thursday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

FOR: People who enjoy entertaining and serving cocktails. There are some snack recipes, but the book's primary focus is adult beverages.

RECIPES: Drinks: Brandy Alexander, Nutella Melt, Hot Buttered Rum, White Sangria, Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and Mulled Wine. Small bites: Cheese-Crusted Olives, Homemade Marshmallows, Orange, Cardamom and Pistachio Mexican Wedding Cakes and Bagna Cauda.