cover image The Pastry Queen Christmas

The Pastry Queen Christmas

Rebecca Rather, . . Ten Speed, $32.50 (225pp) ISBN 978-1580087902

Though Rather is kno with Alison Oresmanwn as the Pastry Queen, the author and baker-owner of the Rather Sweet Bakery and Café in Fredericksburg, Tex., covers a lot more than baked goods in this comprehensive collection of holiday recipes from her native state. Organized by event (holiday open house, brunch, Christmas Eve, etc.), Rather offers an array of ideas sure to keep table legs groaning and belts loosening. Red velvet cupcakes get a jolt of sour sweetness from mascarpone cream cheese icing, and a delicious Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadilla is topped with a colorful pecan and cranberry salsa laced with orange zest, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and jalapeno. Decadent Creamy Chicken Lasagna, Oysters Rockefeller Soup and Chocolate Cookie-Crusted Eggnog Cheesecake each guarantee a memorable event, and Rather's Texas roots shine through in a duo of holiday martinis featuring prickly pear syrup, tamales with a tomatillo sauce, and a corn bread dressing (Mother's Best) so loaded with flavor that diners will forget any other kind exists. Helpful advice on advance preparations and clever variations abound; rounded out with packaging ideas for edible gifts and complete instructions on baking, assembling and decorating a gingerbread house (including templates), this is sure to become a holiday favorite. (Oct.)