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Bon Appétit Celebrations Deck:
For Special Parties and Happy Holidays All Year Long
ISBN: 0811868966
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication date: September 2009
Format: Card Deck
Number of recipes: 50
List price: $14.95
Type: Holidays; Entertaining
Sample recipe: Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive encyclopedia coffee-table
Meal part: all breakfast/brunch lunch dinner dessert
Competition: outclassed a bit behind in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: airfare required online specialty store supermarket pantry
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose minimal complete educational
Time conscious: not conscious bald lies white lies realistic scout's honor
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant ample generous
Photos/drawings: none drawings b&w photos occasional color all color
Art contribution: disappointing distracting decorative beautiful glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine kind work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging ok clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy delicate years of service gift quality stunning
Table of contents: missing frustrating minimal helpful excellent
Index: none confusing adequate nice a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writing history: beginner writer/journalist food writers writing cook personality
Cooking heritage: unknown self-taught teacher chef celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short satisfactory successful exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward good friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: We had a discussion a few years ago with a cookbook editor who was bemoaning the fact that "people no longer cook." Ochef readers cook, we replied proudly, and also, people in general cook for any and all holidays (in the days leading up to holidays our traffic spikes by a factor of four or five….)

This card deck by Bon Appétit (which has 50 oversized cards, instead of a card-player's 52) is all about cooking for holidays – with two Labor Day recipes, a Kwanza dinner, four recipes for Thanksgiving, one for Cinco de Mayo, one for Bastille Day, etc. There are also recipes for special celebrations – birthday (2), anniversary (2), baby shower (1), cocktail parties (2), general celebrations (2), and more.

It's a little hit or miss. Do the Halloween recipes – Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup and Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting – mesh with your desires? (In general, our readers ask about hors d'oeuvre recipes or bubbling punch for Halloween). But, of course, many of these recipes, such as Herb-Rubbed Steak with Peperonata, Mini Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tarts, and Lemon-Raspberry Cupcakes, can be used for any number of occasions. And all of the recipes look both relatively fancy and relatively simple. They are just what many people are looking for in holiday dishes.

The card format is certainly easy to use, although the type is about as small as we're comfortable with. Each recipe card has a photo of the finished dish on the back to help guide you (unfortunately the photos on #14 Lemon Soufflés with Boysenberries and #15 Halibut with Roasted Beets and Dill-Orange Gremolata are mixed up, but you will easily be able to tell them apart, and both are Mother's Day recipes, and we're pretty sure mother will forgive you).

There are also a few card-sized pages of ideas to make planning a party or holiday celebration a little easier, including do-ahead strategies and tips for "keeping your sanity."


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