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A Taste of the Holidays - Special Cookbooks Giveaway

The great folks over at the Hachette Book Group recently contacted us to tell us about two newly published cookbooks and offered us 2 extra sets to give away to our readers. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of each book and by lucky, I mean win the lottery lucky.


The first book is written by Max Brenner and is titled, Chocolate: A Love Story. Even if you don't like chocolate, you will love this book. Each recipe resides on the left page and on the right page is a graphic to go along with it. The graphics are phenomenal and the recipes are simply delicious. You want this book. Trust me.

I was able to send a few questions to Max and he was quick to respond with his answers.

I don't know a soul who doesn't like chocolate, but the difference in preference seems to be between milk (or sweeter) chocolate and dark chocolate. Which is your favorite?

I personally love milk chocolate with hazelnuts.

If there's one tip that you think anyone who is working with chocolate should adhere to, what would it be?

Enjoy chocolate the way you always wanted to. Lick it, drip it into your hands and have fun with it!

The holidays are upon us - can you share one of your favorite traditions with us?

My wife, daughter and I watch a movie and sip on hot chocolate. Nothing is better in the winter!


The second book they sent me was How to Roast a Lamb, by Michael Psilakis.

I am a woman who loves Greek food but apart from chicken souvlaki and Greek salad, have no idea how to prepare it at home. I obviously haven't had time to try many of the recipes as I only received the cookbooks last week, but I made a few of the dips for a Christmas party and wowed my friends. Based on the photos in the book, I know that this is a cookbook I that will soon be dogeared and splattered with ingredients.

Michael was also gracious enough to answer my questions; here is what he had to say.

I'm a woman who loves to cook and loves to try new dishes, but for some reason lamb seems a little...exotic. I've always been afraid to try it. Is it an easier meat to work with than it appears to be?

No, not at all. Lamb seems exotic because it’s a protein that deviates from our familiar forms of red meat, namely beef. But the great part is that all red meat is cooked in the same way. The question when cooking any type of red meat is which cut are you dealing with? Lamb is no different. The only thing to consider is that it’s a much smaller animal, so the cooking occurs more quickly. I would start with the simplest cuts like a tenderloin, or the rack to get yourself acquainted, and cook them using the same techniques you would if you were cooking beef.

Do you have one favorite lamb recipe that stands out for you, or does it change with the seasons?

I think the best way to cook lamb is to simply grill it any time of year and finish it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The garnishes will change with the seasons, but I feel that lamb really resonates in the spring time when the animals are older and gamier. Use the grill to develop a good smoky char and combine it with bright spring vegetables. That’s where it’s at.

Will you share one of your holiday traditions with us?

No matter the holiday, my father would also roast a whole animal on a spit –usually a goat or a lamb. My father built a special BBQ pit in our back yard when I was growing up specifically for this purpose. In the Greek culture, family revolves, literally, around food and gathering to eat it and enjoy one another’s company.

Thanks for joining us on Daily Grommet today Michael & Max!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we will be giving away 2 sets of these cookbooks today (that means two lucky winners will receive a copy of each of the books). I am so excited for you guys that it's a little bit ridiculous.

The contest will remain open until 9pm EST and we'll use Random.org to pick a winner. Leave a comment for Max or Michael, or tell us about your favorite holiday traditions to enter.

General contest rules: To enter, you must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of the U.S. and you must leave a comment below. No purchase necessary. The winners will be randomly selected by Daily Grommet and we will select two people to win a set of two books (one entry per person). Employees, contractors, and the families of employees and contractors of Daily Grommet, Inc. are not eligible to enter. Void where prohibited. Contest will run from 9am through 9pm EST December 22, 2009.


  • Didi Weinreb Says:

    You can never have too many cookbooks. Would love to have the cooks as well...

  • Lisa Imerman Says:

    Those both sound wonderful. Funny about the Lamb as whenever my kids have a birthday we let them pick what they want for dinner and we cook it, they mostly want Lamb Chops as that is their favorite!! My mother-in-law always makes them for them when they come to spend the night too, but she buys them pre-seasoned and I much prefer my own marinated and grilled chops.

    A tradition we have had in my family for years is to have a big celebratory dinner for New Year's Eve with Alaskan King Crab legs, shrimp cocktail and steak. We have baked potatoes and usually another side and my parents and sister (and her family) come and we pig out on great food. Sparkling cider and the kids think it is so fun!! Then we play games and watch the ball drop!!

  • Nell O'Connell Says:

    Mmmmmm. These both look fabulous!

  • Michelle Rosborough Says:

    I love decorating the inside & outside of my house

  • Karen Says:

    Me, I'm a big fan of dark chocolate. In fact, the only milk chocolate I'll eat is M&Ms! I don't know why I like them -- maybe because they hark back to my childhood.

  • Darcey Says:

    I so love Greek food, and chocolate - so what better a combination can you get for cookbooks??

  • Chris Perrin Says:


    You were a hardass on Ultimate Recipe Showdown. If your standards are half as high for your cookbook, this should be up there with one of the best of the year. The cover is gorgeous and I am excited to get to read it.

  • Maggie Says:

    Would love to win!


  • Sarah Says:

    These both sounds like amazing cookbooks! I would love the chance to own them myself. Thanks!

  • laura hamrick Says:

    I need all the help I can get in the kitchen. My husband loves to cook, but I would love to surprise him with some new cookbooks and have me make some of the receipes!

  • Tina @ Mommys Kitchen Says:

    Your right you can never have enough. These would be great addition to my collection. Thanks for the giveaway and Merry Christmas.

  • Tracy Pryor Says:

    My husband loves lamb and I love chocolate. These books would be great to win!

  • LisaLisa Says:

    Greek food is my favorite. I do agree, you could never have enough cookbooks. Great gift! Would love to have them!

  • Shaina Says:

    My first experience with lamb was in chops. We lightly seasoned and grilled. They were delicious and very tender.

    As far as traditions, it looks like a winter storm might blow ours out of the water. We usually drive to my husband's hometown where our kids are in the Christmas Eve program. This year it may not happen for the first time since before we were married.

  • Catherine Says:

    Cooking, and cooking a lot. That's my holiday tradition. I love trying new things and testing them out on my willing family!

  • Michelle Says:

    What an amazing giveaway! Thanks so much for the chance to enter :) Our tradition is, the weekend before Christmas, we have a big cookie decorating party, and we invite our family, friends, and of course all of their children! Everyone has a blast making and decorating cookies. At the end of the party, everyone takes some cookies home...a homemade...and yummy...memento of the occasion!

  • Sheila Flint Says:

    I love lamb, but don't often cook it at home. It would be fantastic to have a cookbook to help me out! And, you can never go wrong with chocolate!!

  • Rhi Says:

    My favorite holiday tradition is eating Finnish Christmas Tarts on Christmas Morning!

  • Tom Smith Says:

    Every year for the past, oh, twenty years, my mother made a chocolate mousse cake for Christmas. She got the recipe from a dear family friend, who would even decorate hers with chocolate molded by real ivy leaves!

  • maureen Says:

    growing up one of our traditions was to go to the 10:30pm mass (our version of Midnight mass). When we came home we would then bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies to leave for "Santa". As we got older we would still bake the cookies but more it was a chance to talk with my brothers and sisters and we would also open up one gift.
    Now we are all grown up and have families of our own and live all over the world but we still talk on christmas and most of us still bake a batch of cocolate chip cookies on Christmas Eve.

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    LOL! Chris, you're so right. Mike was fantastic and this is one amazing cookbook.

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Oh no; sorry to hear that Shaina. Hope you guys can kick off a new tradition instead ... snowshoeing??

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Michelle - sounds great. I've done these cookie exchanges a few times, but to be honest I just want to skip to the part where I get to eat everyone else's creations!

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Rhi ... delicious. What are <em>Finish Christmas tarts</em>? Do you make or buy?

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Sounds like a recipe that deserves to be in Max's book. Yum!

  • Sara Says:

    The Greek cookbook looks amazing. Olives, lemon, oregano, oil. . . what's not to love?

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    How elegant and extravagent! You'll obviously do great things with these cookbooks if you're our winner Lisa.

  • Jessie Says:

    That chocolate cookbook sounds fantastic! I love chocolate and have a really hard time cooking with it. I always burn it or not melt it enough to get it to do what I want. Thanks for the contest! I hope i win!

  • Kelly Says:

    I would LOVE to have the chocolate cookbook in my hands! I once made this delicious chocolate mole for a chicken recipe and fell in love with it. Lately my favorite is hot chocolate with cinnamon in it. So soothing to the soul on a cold December day! I can think of nothing quite like chocolate that ministers to the soul in such a delicious and beautiful way. :-)

  • Rachael Phillips Says:

    I love to bake all year round and usually the recipies have chocolate in them--especially for the holidays. I love chocolate! Our family loves to check out local chocolate wherever we go--did you know that Barcelona has a chocolate museum? Next stop--Jacques Torres chocolate in the Dumbo section of NYC. (Lamb is out for me--too many vegetarians in the family!)

  • Hannah B. Says:

    I love to eat, love to cook & have been collecting cookbooks since I was a kid. Both of these books have been on my gotta-have list since I first read reviews of them. First of all, I am a true chocoholic, and the darker the better. I don't know how anyone could NOT love it, short of being allergic to it, since it can be used in so many forms.
    Michael Psilakis's book I want to read, not only because I love Greek food, but from what I have read of it, it's also a story about his relationship with his father and their traditions involving food, and it sounds like it is really from the heart and just happens to include recipes!
    I love cooking at this time of year because I can make things that I wouldn't usually make and use them as gifts & surprise people with them. This year I am trying new forms of candy that I haven't done before, mainly English toffee and Peppermint Bark. I don't want them around as a temptation so I hope that they will soon be consumed!
    Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to everyone at the Daily Grommet. :)

  • Chris Says:

    I went to Max Brenner the last time I went to NYC and thought I had gone to heaven! The 1 1/2 hour wait for a table was more than worth it.
    In my ideal world Max would open a place in Greece, my favorite country in Europe. First one of Michael's dishes followed by a milk-hazelnut chocolate extravaganza!

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Hannah - you're so right. With all of the chocolate we've reviewed here at Daily Grommet, I've been able to completely indulge my own addiction and take my love of chocolate to a whole new level. And, you're right, Michael's book tells such a moving story about his family traditions that it'll make you wish you were Greek! Our favorite restaurant growing up was Greek, so I've always had a fond spot for the cuisine. This book put me right over the edge. Great to see you on our blog and everyone here at the Grommet sends best wishes for the holiday season to you too!

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Hey Rachel - thanks for stopping by! You can always give the Greek book as a gift, but I know you'll love Max's adventure with chocolate if you're our winner.

  • Pamela Romero Says:

    I love to try out new recipes and both cookbooks sound wonderful! Please enter me in the giveaway.

    Thanks and Happy Holidays:)

  • jeanneconnon Says:


  • Heather Says:

    What a generous gift to your readers! Goodluck everyone!

  • AustinMochi Says:

    It's been ages since I last bought any cookbooks, but these look great. Thanks, and happy holidays!

  • marie cox Says:

    YUM !

  • Mark LaPolla Says:

    Love to collect books. I retweeted for you. Happy Holidays.

  • Joyce Grinczel Says:

    Let's put it this way. My Twitter handle is @runforchocolate. I do believe I took up running to support my chocolate habit (as in guilt-free chocolate eating). I collect cookbooks and I love Greek food as well. It's been my dream to go to Greece and 2010 marks the 2,500 year anniversary of the first marathon in Greece. I'm considering making the trip to run that marathon. I think it's destiny that these two cookbooks are paired together. Pick me, pick me.

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    The more the merrier. Thanks for the RT Mark. BTW - Life by Chocolate looks very exotic ...
    Dark Chocolate Bacon, Banana, Maple Caramel?! Wow.

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Love the handle Joyce and hope you make it to Greece - send us pix!!

  • Luna Says:

    Every year my older sister makes sugar cookies to decorate & my grandmother always made peanut fudge.

    I am still feel my way around new traditions, so a fresh cookbook never hurts!

    Cheers and happy holidays :)

  • India Says:

    Want to give this a try as I love chocolate and Greek food. Been to Max Brenner in NYC and Athens, Greece. Amazing stuff!

  • Jennifer C. Says:

    I love cookbooks! It's so fun to try new things!

  • The Gourmet Girl Says:

    I'm not commenting to win.
    What a wonderful way to open the eyes of people that love food with this contest.
    We at GGM, love Max Brenner and everyone needs to experience his 'chocolate factory' in NYC. If you or your readers want to read about our experience there visit Gourmet Girl Magazine.
    These are beautifully appointed publications and whoever wins will be overjoyed.
    Isn't is fun being 'santa.'

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Hi Elaine - thanks for your insights about Max. The chocolate factory does sound amazing and most definitely on the list of must-sees for my next trip to NYC. We "Grommet Gals" love Gourmet Girl - especially your Chef profiles. So glad you stopped by to say hi. Happy holidays!

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Congratulations Chris Perrin and Sheila Flint - you've both won a set of these beautiful cookbooks! I’ll email you to get your addresses.

    And thanks to everyone else for stopping by - happy holidays!

  • Amanda Brown Says:

    You know we just got a whole big schwack of lamb and I have no idea what to do with it. HELP!

  • Marianne Says:

    Argh! 9pm? what about midnight? So bummed to miss a chance. I'm a cookbook queen and I LOVE lamb. We always have it for Christmas. Can't wait. I might actually have to go buy the lamb cookbook. It sounds right up my alley! Thank you for making me salivate.

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Oh no - sorry you missed this Marianne. We'll definitely think about pushing the deadline out for future giveaways. If you do buy the book, hope you'll stop back and let us know what you think of it.

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