As user-friendly cookbooks go, for novices and more experienced kitchen hands, put the chef Gavin Kaysen’s first book, “At Home,” at the top of your shopping list. Mr. Kaysen, who came up through the ranks of Daniel Boulud’s empire, then went home to Minneapolis to establish his own restaurants, keeps things focused on home cooking in this book. There are photos of his (enviable) home kitchen, and accompanying most of the recipes are step-by-step instructional shots. Organized by seasons, it starts about now, digging into winter with coq au vin, less common Parisian gnocchi (no potatoes), and cassoulet. Spring brings crab cakes, summer is for swordfish kebabs with corn, and for fall he offers braised lamb shanks. Throughout there are tips, like why his braised dishes cook uncovered, how to keep food warm and buy sugar snaps, and how to organize your freezer. The tone throughout is welcoming and warm.
“At Home” by Gavin Kaysen and Nick Fauchald (Spoon Thief Publishing, $35)
It’s Peppermint Season
For the holiday season, you’ll find peppermint chips embedded in dark chocolate from Levain Bakery. The cookie, like most of their others, is a hefty mound, this one begging to be split and served with peppermint stick ice cream. Or, you might leave a couple of them on the hearth for Santa.
Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookie, four-pack $29, eight for $49, 12 for $79, levainbakery.com.
A Revealing Documentary on a Top Chef
The much-lauded, influential chef Charlie Trotter was considered to be fearless, though controlling. This new documentary traces his rise, with interviews from peers like Wolfgang Puck, Norman Van Aken and Emeril Lagasse, and especially Grant Achatz, with whom he had a rivalry — both friendly and not. But eventually there was a fall, due in great measure to health issues that many were unaware of. He closed his flagship restaurant in 2012, and died the following year of a stroke at 54. If any film tries to get into the mind of a top chef, this is it.
“Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter,” by Greenwich Entertainment, directed by Rebecca Halpern; in theaters and streaming platforms.
A Wine Studies Program for Baja California
Tearing a page from the University of California at Davis, which has one of the premier academic wine studies programs in the United States, Mexico has just inaugurated the CEVIT Wine Institute at CETYS, a university system. Its new $4 million facility is on the Ensenada campus in northern Baja California, where there has been considerable vineyard and winemaking activity for decades. The institute offers academic programs for professionals covering technical, research, production and marketing aspects of the wine industry, and it will add advanced degree programs, as well. Next year, there are plans to add recreational courses for the public. Funding for the new institute has come from academic, business and government sources; the programs have also enlisted expertise from French, American and Argentine winemakers.
CEVIT Wine Institute at CETYS, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico campus, cetys.mx.
Learn about Japanese Superfoods
Yumi Komatsudaira, a seaweed farmer and author, and Nancy Singleton Hachisu, who lives on an organic farm in Japan and is also an author, will discuss the particular nutritional aspects of Japanese ingredients, their respect for seasonality and their effect on health in a virtual presentation for the Japan Society. Akiko Katayama, a food writer, will moderate.
“Seasonality, Superfoods, and Other Secrets of Japanese Cuisine,” Japan Society, Dec. 7, 7-8 p.m., free with registration, japansociety.org.
Get Out the Fine Silver
Does your silver shine for the holidays? And what do you know about its lineage? During the 18th and 19th centuries, English silver evolved technically and functionally, and it came to influence silver around the world. In a Zoom presentation, Carolyn Tillie, an historian and jeweler, will discuss the subject and show some of her own collection of specialized cutlery for asparagus, anchovies, oysters, jellies and more. She will also share a recipe for mulled wine from an 1825 English cookbook.
“How Innovations in British Silversmithing Shaped our Dining Tables,” Culinary Historians of New York, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m., virtual, free for members, $10 for nonmembers and guests, britishmetalworkingtrade.eventbrite.com.