Yearly Archives: 2013

Southern-style Holiday Dinner: Old Bay Deviled Eggs

The Dinner TableThe holiday dinner table

Every family has its own holiday traditions.  Ours revolves around a group meal and present exchange.  Here’s how it rolled out this year.  We actually managed to lock down the date and time for our celebration in near record time.  Then, negotiations started over what would be prepared for said holiday meal.  When I explained this two-step process to a few folks at work and some friends, I got a some odd looks (from those with smaller families) and some knowing nods of recognition (from those who are part of larger broods).  My youngest sister very proactively sent out this proposed very Southern-style holiday menu via email a few weeks out:

Holidays are coming fast!  For those of you dining at the Blake household, how does Ham, potato salad, green bean casserole, and biscuits sound?

Then, I responded with a few points of feedback, based upon what I knew to be of some of the guests’ preferences (including those of one notoriously-fussy nephew) and a few of my own.  Here was her response:

Well it is up to you. I was going to pick up ham from honey baked, potato salad from red hot blue, make green bean casserole and biscuits plus I asked R and M to bring appetizer or side dish. If you want to do something different and want to spearhead dinner, I will gladly pass the torch. You just let me know.

Dinner PlateMy dinner plate

I wasn’t even pulling rank as a working chef on her.  It was more just that I know that green bean casserole is a dish that repulses my youngest brother and that his children (in the main not vegetable-eaters) would also not touch it.  Believe it or not, I’m not much of a fan of a huge hunk of ham as part of a meal.  My mother used to fix mustard and brown sugar-glazed ham, boiled potatoes, and corn as a holiday dinner, as one of my sisters liked it.  It is one of my culinary nightmares, still.  After a few more emails, and a suggestion from me that we order Chinese food from our local favorite haunt, I received carte blanche to proceed with re-organizing the menu:

Then we will leave it in your capable hands. Just let R and M know if there is something other than a side dish or appetizer you want them to bring.

Old Bay Deviled EggsOld Bay® Deviled Eggs

So, I took the original food list and revamped it a bit, still keeping it Southern-style and letting everyone contribute a bit to the meal.  Feathers were smoothed back into place, and my father did not have to make good on his threat that if he didn’t like what we fixed, he could just run out to McDonald’s and grab a hamburger.  (I did point out to him that that comment just tore right into my soul as a culinary professional, which he somehow found amusing.)  One of the things that I added to the list was Old Bay® Deviled Eggs.  I mean, what typifies a Southern celebratory meal anyway like a big ol’ plate of deviled eggs, with gleaming whites and smooth, creamy yolks.  Judging by the fact that I was asked to set aside the last remaining two halves for one of the guests, I’d say that they were a hit on our holiday dinner table.  Hopefully, they’ll find a spot on yours as well.

Old Bay® Deviled Eggs

Prep time: 30-45 minutes or so

Serving size:  Allow one whole egg per adult, at least (my nephew eats only the whites)

Ingredients: There’s no specific proportions or measurements that I use for this recipe.  I make these by taste and feel and depending upon the quantity of eggs I’m fixing.





Dijon Mustard

Old Bay® Seasoning

Black Pepper


Place a saucepan of water full enough to cover the eggs on the stove and bring it to a boil without the eggs in it.  Then, when the water has boiled, pour a bunch of salt in the bottom of the pan.  You probably need a couple of tablespoons of it at least.  I used a very sad-looking container of good-quality sea salt for these, but any table or kosher salt will do.  Gently lower the eggs into the pan, bring the water back to the boil, and let the eggs cook for 10 minutes in the boiling water.  Remove the eggs from the pan and immediately either dunk them into an ice bath or into a bowl of cold water.

Preparing eggsPreparing the eggs

The eggs I made at my folks’ house this past week, using this cooking method, gave me the easiest-to-peel, hard boiled eggs of my life.  Once cooled, the shells just slipped right off of the eggs.  Cut them in half and pop out the yellow yolks, keeping whites and yolks in separate bowls.

Mixing fillingMixing filling

Mash up the egg yolks with a fork until they are in fine, fluffy pieces.  For this batch I made 8 eggs for 9 adults, which turned out to be just right.  I started off with about 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons of mustard along with 1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay® Seasoning, a sprinkle of salt, and a couple of grinds of black pepper.  Mix this all together and then taste it.  It should be nicely creamy with no one flavor of mayonnaise or mustard or seasoning competing with each other or standing out too much overall.  Keep adding a bit of each ingredient until you get the right proportion and taste.  The consistency should be kind of similar to that of mashed potatoes.

Ready to fill eggsReady to fill eggs

I made the eggs a few hours prior to serving them, so I stored the whites in the refrigerator on their serving plate, and put the filling mixture into a piping bag to put into the egg whites at the last minute.  I’ve served deviled eggs a few times at catered events and learned early on that using a piping bag speeds up the process of getting filling into whites, and it makes them look prettier and more consistent as well.  After filling them, I sprinkled a bit more of the Old Bay® Seasoning on top of the eggs to give them an extra pop of flavor.

Deviled Eggs with Old Bay

Buon appetito!

Kitchen Witch Tip:

I know there’s some differences of opinion about adding salt to the water in which the eggs are cooked, but this is the method I learned in culinary school as well as in the catering prep kitchen, where we did lots and lots of deviled eggs.  This way seems to work when I’ve had to produce batches of them myself.  Also, another tip is to use “old eggs,” ones that are a few days old and are not right off of the farm, as they are easier to peel.

A Holiday Gift List: Chef Version

Rock Center TreeThe Rockefeller Center holiday tree – photo taken after getting off a a gig working a tree lighting party

For the past several years, I’ve combed the markets, trekking to most of the holiday ones in the city to look for unique food-themed gifts to suggest to folks for their loved ones for the season. This year, I’ve worked my first busy season as a chef, balancing daytime shifts as a prep cook in a catering kitchen and evenings working as an events chef for large and small parties and dinners. I’ve been spending lots of hours on my feet, in front of stoves and convection ovens (some of them portable ones), and many hours playing everyone’s favorite games: “can I fit just one more sheet tray on the already-packed speedrack in the walk-in” and “how can I crawl into the back of the walk-in to get the 1/2 dozen eggs that I need without breaking any of them or having something fall on my head.” Yeah, it’s been crazy lately, but I’m actually loving (almost) every minute of it (getting a nice, big, new sheet tray burn on my arm last week wasn’t so much fun).

Burn on armBurns – the not-fun part of kitchen work

I have been getting home just in time to clean out my uniforms and chef’s jackets from one day’s gigs and swapping them out with clean ones for the next day, pass out, get up, make and drink coffee #1 of the morning, shower, and head out for another 16- (or so) hour day. It’s a different kind of energy in the kitchen from when I worked in banking. Then, I could barely muster enough strength to make it to Midtown for 7:00 a.m. conference calls once a month. Now, I am in the kitchen at 7:00 a.m. almost every day, checking in with the lead chef on  the day’s prep list and what my tasks are on it, and moving through everything as quickly as I can. I know the bus schedule by heart and can time the MTA drivers’ arrival (M96, you’re almost bang on time every day, almost, except for when you really screw up.).

Leckerlee gift containerThe only holiday gift I’ve bought this season

This year, I haven’t made it to any holiday markets except for the Columbus Circle one, which I stopped by on the way home after working a 12.5-hour, triple shift day (prep plus two events), and I just happened to be in the neighborhood. I passed by the stand for Leckerlee and Sandy Lee’s fantastic, seasonal (really), Lebkuchen. She’s super terrific and her product just captures all the warmth and flavors and feel of European holiday markets, which I really miss (mostly because walking around with a crêpe in one hand and mulled wine in another has got to be one of the best things in the world to do at this time of year). She also now has these lovely holiday tins and makes her creations in a mini-version, which would make the perfect hostess gift. Add in some (spiked) eggnog, and you would kick off the celebrations on a very good note.

Tree on sidewalkHoliday tree seen on my way home from work one day

So, with this crazy, hectic time of the year in mind, here’s my real holiday gift list for my fellow food industry professionals and busy-season culinary elves:

1.  Sleep

Everyone is running a little short of this these days.  (Even though this conflicts somewhat with accomplishing #6.)

2.  A chance to sit down at some point during the day

I snarfed family meal standing up one day and didn’t even get anything on another couple of days. There are also days when I get on the bus or subway to go home and realize that I haven’t really sat down in 12 or so hours.

3.  A walk-in that actually holds all of my prep work so that I can see it all in one place and find things

See above. I’m not joking about this. The freezer is even more packed. Drives me crazy when I know I made a couple of hundred mini crabcakes and then someone comes to me during the hectic few minutes we are packing everything out to go to an event and says that they can’t find them.

4.  Ample prep space for everyone to work

I was putting together mini-burgers on sheet trays balanced on the top of hot boxes last week, as we’d maxed out on our prep space.

5.  New music for the prep kitchen.

After hearing the same playlists day-in, day-out for the past several months, it is getting really old. How come no one lets me put my iPod in the speakers?  (although I’m not sure that the guys will get into Dee-lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” or the B-52s or The Clash or The Jam as much as I would.)

6.  Adequate power source to prepare food for service

Another no joking item. I worked a gig in the past couple of weeks where I blew out the fuses as the organizer hadn’t figured the power set-up out for us to set up the equipment to get the food heated in time to serve it. At another gig, I had to plug in ovens on opposite sides of the room to avoid blowing the power.  Please figure this out before you ask me to cook someplace; it’s not fair to the chef or, more importantly, to the client and their guests who just want to have some food.

7.  My own personal knife sharpener

No, really, I want someone who can expertly sharpen my knives on call when I need them done, which seems to be just about every other day lately. Oh, and said person has to be able to work between midnight and 5:00 a.m., which is when I’m sleeping, and to return them to me in time for me to work the next day.  Or maybe what I need is a Knife Kit Genie who can sharpen my knives, clean out my knife kit, and organize everything in its proper place for the next time I need it.

8.  New kitchen clogs

O.K., this might be just for me, but I really need new clogs at this point, as I realized only after standing for so many hours back-to-back recently to return home with aching knees. My old ones are completely shot at this point. Maybe I could use them as gardening clogs if I had a garden or was more adept at trying to keep even houseplants alive.

9.  A way that I can be in two places at the same time 

I’ve been pulling extra prep kitchen shifts while fielding calls to pick up gigs as an events chef, which I’ve had to turn down, as I was already booked. I still haven’t figured out how to clone myself to take on all that extra work. It really hurts to pass that up, especially as it will slow down after this month.

10.  A couple of days off to spend time with my friends

I feel like all of my relationships are on life support these days, and heaven knows when I’m supposed to get holiday cards and shopping done this year. I don’t even have time to do my fallback of making cookies or toffee. The number of times that I’ve cancelled on folks because I am too tired to be coherent is reaching a new record. Make a few days off back-to-back, and I might even be able to file all of my paperwork and get my recipe notes organized.

And, most of all, a very prosperous, safe, accidental fire-free, burn-free, and delicious 2014 for everyone!

Disclaimer: I wrote this in about 15 minutes after pulling another 60-70 hour week and the day after working a second double in about as many days and going in on my day off to work in the prep kitchen, so it might sound a bit loopy and disjointed.  I’d finally managed to get a full night’s sleep last night for the first time in two weeks.  I plan to sleep a lot when I’m at my parents’ house over Christmas, that is if my two little nephews let me do that.

Buon appetito!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate & PeppermintChocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle

This past Saturday, I took a few hours out of the craziness that is the holiday season working catering dinners and parties in the evening and helping out in a prep kitchen during the daytime to join fellow bakers at Cookie Swap NYC, put together by the wonderful Lillian Huang of Sweets by Sillianah. The proceeds from the event tickets went to City Harvest, so we were able to enjoy our sweets and to feed others as well.  As in past years, bloggers and bakers gathered together to exchange season’s greetings and to sample each others’ culinary creations.  I’ve brought Millionaire’s Shortbread and White Chocolate-Cranberry-Macadamia Nut Cookies to share.  This year, I decided to take a crack at making a chocolate-peppermint combination.

Candy Cane dustCandy cane dust

I took a recipe that I’ve been fiddling around with for chocolate-chocolate chip cookies with white chocolate chunks and converted it to include a more seasonal flavor profile.  The tricky part was that I wanted to get just enough peppermint infusion to come through without going overboard and having it become too overwhelming.  A couple of months ago in the prep kitchen, the pastry chef was working on some holiday peppermint meringues.  The aroma that permeated the kitchen as they were baking was almost suffocating.  I think we were on the fence as to whether we felt like we were in a toothpaste commercial or drowning in essence of breathmint.

Sprinkling candy cane dustSprinkling on candy cane dust

So, when I was mulling over how to avoid that same overly-aromatic fate for my Cookie Swap contribution, I asked the pastry chef what she thought.  Her advice was to take the chocolate chunks, melt them down, add peppermint extract to them, re-harden the chocolate, and then break it up and add the peppermint-infused chocolate pieces to the cookie dough.  I opted for the easy route and decided to add peppermint extract to the dough and to top it with crushed candy cane, hoping that I’d get enough of the mint flavor for the cookies to be festive but also keep the deep, rich chocolatey component.  I think this recipe succeeds in doing just that, especially given the fact that when I dropped off the leftovers with the guys at the front desk in my building, they actually called me to tell me how much they liked them (which they had never done before).

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle

Serving size: Makes 4 dozen 2- to 3-inch diameter cookies
Prep time: about 1 1/2 hours, including baking and cooling time


12 T Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 c. Unrefined Cane Sugar
1/4 c. Light Brown Sugar
1/4 c. Dark Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Peppermint Extract
1 c. Flour
1/2 c. Droste Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 c. Semi-sweet Chocolate pieces
1 c. White Chocolate pieces
Crushed peppermint candy canes (about 2 whole candy canes’ worth)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix butter and sugars together until they are completely combined. Add the egg and extracts and stir to incorporate.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter, egg, sugar mixture. Stir until there are no traces of the dry ingredients. Mix in the semi-sweet chocolate pieces.

Chocolate chunks mixed into batterDough all mixed together

Bake the cookies for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and cook them for 5 minutes more. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.  While the cookies are cooling, crush the candy canes by running them through a food processor until they become a fine red and white dust (see photo above).

White chocolate drizzleWhite chocolate drizzled on cookies

Melt white chocolate pieces over a double boiler until smooth. Place the melted chocolate in a pastry bag or a resealable plastic bag and make a cut at the corner of the bag to create a small opening. Drizzle the chocolate in random patterns over the baked cookies.  Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the chocolate cookies. Allow the white chocolate to harden before serving them, if you can resist the temptation to bite into one right away!

Cookies finished w candy caneCookies finished with candy cane dust

Buon appetito!

Vibrant Rioja and Your Thanksgiving Feast

Vibrant Rioja winesVibrant Rioja event

Rioja for your Thanksgiving feast? I know, it’s not a wine and food pairing that I wouldn’t have considered either, but after attending an event for Vibrant Rioja put on by Padilla/CRT last month, I wonder why I’d never thought of it before. Usually, the wines that we choose in our family for holiday meals come down to a. whatever is around b. whatever we can buy at the grocery store (being in Virginia you can do that, unlike in New York) or c. whatever I might have brought with me on my visit down South.  Food magazines offer suggestions for American Pinot Noirs or Zinfandels or some other vintage that happens to be the popular one of the season.  It all gets a bit confusing, not least because of the pressure to make a decision with the whole family relying upon my tastes, to the point where grabbing a beer from my dad’s stash just seems like the easiest route to go.

Wines and TapasWines and Tapas

Riojas tend to be low-acidity, food friendly wines, which was demonstrated to us that evening in the best way possible – by pairing different vintages with a variety of dishes.  The Marqués de Cáceres 2012 was the perfect way to get into the festive mood.  It’s bright pink color, berry notes and clean finish made this the perfect wine to enjoy while nibbling on sliced meats and Spanish tortilla while talking to the other attendees about what they do in the food business.

Chorizo Corn Bread StuffingChorizo Corn Bread Stuffing

My favorite pairing of the evening is one that would have pleased one of my wine instructors.  She taught us to pair smoky flavors with oaky wines.  Well, the Chorizo Corn Bread Stuffing, maybe something I can introduce to my family’s holiday table, worked beautifully with the round, ripe, deep, red fruit flavors of the Castillo Labastida Crianza 2010 which had been aged in American oak, picking up those notes.  It was a match that made me want to go back for seconds and thirds of the stuffing the balance between the wine and food were just so wonderful to enjoy together.

Dinner PlateDinner Plate

A wine that seemed to pair well with just about everything that we were served was the Conde de Valdemar Reserva 2006.  This wine was aged in American and French oak, combining the best characteristics of both while also letting the fruit flavors shine through on the palate.  We enjoyed it with the Duck in a Sherry-Citrus Sauce, the stuffing, the Carrots and Cauliflower in Romesco, and the Green Beans in Cream Sauce.  The diversity of tastes that this wine paired with would make it a great holiday meal partner.

Churros & Spicy Chocolate SauceChurros and Spicy Chocolate Sauce

For dessert, we had a wine that seemed to me to have a more sophisticated personality as well as a beautiful nose.  The Dinastia Vivanco Reserva 2005 was served alongside a platter of Churros and Spicy Chocolate Sauce.  The crisp, fried dough dusted with sugar dipped in rich, creamy chocolate with a kick of heat was a great balance with the wine, bringing out some of its spice notes.

Glasses of RiojaGlasses of Rioja

This year, I think I might try introducing Rioja to our holiday dinner table.  It might take some convincing, I know, given the entrenched tastes of my family members, but I’m game to try it.  I just really enjoyed how much these wines seemed to go so well with all the foods that we tried.  No matter what you serve for this holiday season, I hope that you are surrounded by family and friends and fellow wine-lovers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Salame al cioccolato (Chocolate Salami)

Salame al cioccolato slicedSalame al cioccolato (Chocolate Salami)

Yesterday, as a thank you to the supporters of her recent Kickstarter Chocabaret project, Jackie Gordon (aka The Diva That Ate New York) hosted a chocolate-themed gathering at her home.  When the reminder for this event flashed up on my phone on Friday, 24 hours before it started, I had a mild moment of panic.  Oops!  I realized that I was supposed to make something chocolate inspired to bring with me.  Then, that idea lightbulb went off, just like in the comics, and I thought, “Hey, why don’t I make a chocolate salami.  That will be different.”

Chocolate spreadChocolate spread

This dish proved to be a hit, which gave me some relief, as I’d only made it once before in culinary school for our buffet, where it came out just so-so.  One of the guests kept going back time and time again for slices of the salami.  It was hard to resist it, I know from having put it together the night before.  Inspired by Italian meat products, it combines smooth and creamy chocolate mixed with chunks of cake (to represent the fat that is usually in meat salami), pistachios (like in mortadella), and dried cranberries for a bit of tartness all rolled into a log and then dusted with powdered sugar to mimic a log of cured meat.  Given the reception that this recipe had at an event full of food people and chocolate-lovers, I think I’m going to be bringing it to a few more parties this holiday season!


Salame al cioccolato (Chocolate Salami)

Prep time: 20 minutes to put it together, plus time overnight to set

Serving Size: about 25-30 slices


125 ml Heavy Whipping Cream

2 tsp. Instant Coffee

1 Tbsp. Brandy

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

350 g Semi-sweet Chocolate (70% cocoa)

85 g Vanilla Cake (or cupcake), cut into 1/2 cm cubes

20 g Pistachio Halves

30 g Dried Cranberries

Powdered Sugar for dusting


Heat heavy cream in a saucepan over low heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Add coffee, brandy, and vanilla extract to the cream.  Then, add chocolate and stir into the cream until thoroughly melted and smooth.

Chocolate mixtureChocolate mixture

Gently fold the cake pieces, pistachios, and cranberries into the chocolate mixture.  Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface.  Pour out the chocolate mixture onto the center of the plastic wrap lengthwise.  Fold one edge of the plastic wrap over the chocolate mixture and then fold the opposite edge over top of that one twist the edges and roll the mixture into a log using the plastic wrap, like you would do for making a log of compound butter.  You will end up with something that looks like the below.

Wrapped up and ready to go in the freezerChocolate Salami

Place the chocolate salami in the freezer to set.  Once firm, it can be put in the refrigerator and kept there until ready to serve it.  I left the log in the freezer overnight and moved it to the refrigerator in the morning, as I needed to travel with it to the party, so I didn’t want it to be come too soft before it got to its destination.  Just before getting ready to serve, dust the chocolate salami with confectioner’s sugar on all sides.  Cut into thin slices to serve.

Remains of Salame al cioccolatoThe remains at the end of the party

Buon appetito!

“Cooking from the Heart” with Chef John Besh at The International Culinary Center

Chef John Besh adding crab bodies to fish stewChef John Besh adding crab bodies to pan

“I thought today might be a good day to cook fish heads,” Chef John Besh announced as he kicked off his culinary demonstration on Thursday, Halloween Day, at the International Culinary Center to a room packed full of students from all the programs as well as a few alumni like me and a couple of my classmates.  Taking advantage of a day off from the catering kitchens where I usually work, I slid into a seat in the front row, anticipating some delicious treats and looking forward to stories and tips from this celebrated chef, who was in New York City with his team, touring and promoting his new cookbook “Cooking from the Heart,” which talks about his own personal journey and growth as a culinary professional.

Fish Soup w RouilleSoupe de Poissons (Fish Soup) with Rouille

Regaling us with stories of his own (and his chefs’) cooking exploits, Chef Besh walked us through not just the process of making a classic Provençale fish soup and how layers of flavor are built at each stage of the cooking process.  Seared crab bodies lend a subtle nuttiness to the finished product.  “Fish heads add a great viscosity to the soup.”  The soupe de poissons is also the base for a classic bouillabaisse, so a good flavor profile in the base is important to the final dish.  He added lots of saffron to the broth as well as other aromatics: “using dried herbs and spices work well with long, slow braises,” he advised.  To accompany the soup, Chef Besh whipped up a classic rouille, a mayonnaise with garlic and harissa and served it to us with toasted bread rounds.

Chef John Besh making rouilleChef Besh making rouille

He also talked to us about his own personal development in becoming a chef after attending culinary school.  “It was important to me to know the stories behind the food,” he explained.  This journey took him to Germany to the Black Forest region and to Provence in France.  At each step he worked with trained masters of their profession who challenged him, let him make mistakes and learn from them.  He also spent time with home cooks in those areas, too, capturing even more of the feel of the local cuisines.  These stories and the recipes that he developed from these lessons are captured in “Cooking from the Heart,” a copy of which we received at this demo.

Cooking from the Heart cookbookChef John Besh’s latest cookbook

It was very clear from the demo and the passion and delight that Chef Besh’s showed in his cooking on Thursday, that this is a very special book.  It’s a fond look back at the road that a bright, young culinary graduate took in order to become a chef, a recognition of all the people and places that have inspired him along the way.  This is a book that makes you just want to curl up on the couch, as I did, and read it as a piece of literature.  At the same time, the recipes are also inspiring and heart-warming, the terrines, soups, vegetable dishes, and desserts that capture useful techniques and terrific tastes and are rooted in the heritage of the countries in which he studied, and can also translate to meals on your table for family and friends.

Pear ClafoutisPear Clafoutis

We wrapped up the demo with a piece of a Pear Clafoutis, another classic dish, and a simple and tasty dessert that is very easy to make.  It’s super flexible as well, as Chef Besh explained, as it can be made using almost any seasonal fruit that you have available.  Throughout the demo, Chef Besh highlighted the efforts of his team of chefs and discussed how he sends them to get further training with some of the same chefs who taught him along the way.  Of course, he also ribbed them a bit as well for their own culinary exploits, including one of them who had dumped a whole vat of soup on a prominent chef.  He ended the demo by recognizing the folks who work with him, “There’s no way that I could do the work I do, have the life I have, without this team.”

Buon appetito!

Normally, at this point, I might offer this book as a giveaway item on this site, but I’m hanging onto this one, folks.  You should put it on your holiday gift book list, too.