Delicious December

How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats: A Holiday Cookbook

By Peter G. Rose

Subjects: Food, New York/regional, American History, American Culture, History
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438449142, 164 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438449135, 164 pages, July 2014

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Part I. Saint Nicholas in the New World
1. The History of Saint Nicholas
2. The Dutch Bring Saint Nicholas to the New World and He becomes Santa Claus
3. The Saint Nicholas Celebration in the Netherlands, United States, and Canada Today
Part II. The Taste of December
4. Recipes for Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) Celebration
5. Recipes for Christmas Treats
6. Recipes for Today’s American Cookie Tray
7. Recipes for the New Year’s Celebration
8. Recipes for Savory Cookies
9. Recipes for Savory Party Treats (hors d’oeuvres or starters)
10. Recipes for Festive Homemade Drinks
11. Presents, Poems, Decorations, and Menus (with recipes)
List of websites for mail-order sources of Dutch products
Illustration credits
Alphabetical recipe index
About the author

Food and history combine in this exploration of the Dutch influence on American holiday traditions. Includes more than one hundred easy-to-make holiday recipes.


Delicious December mixes food and history in a celebration of Dutch and American Christmas traditions. In more than one hundred tried-and-true recipes, award-winning food historian Peter G. Rose draws on traditions that date back to the Middle Ages, as well as her own reminiscences of her native country, and suggests many ways to incorporate these true Dutch treats into American celebrations.

The book not only talks about the history and recipes of St. Nicholas Day celebrations, but also about Dutch specialties for Christmas and New Year's. Rose includes recipes for savory cookies and party treats as well as menus and recipes for the parties that might happen between the feast days. Divided into two parts, part one discusses the history of St. Nicholas, how he was brought to America and became Santa, and the other changes that have taken place here as well as in the Netherlands. The second part consists of 111 recipes that are easy to make and easy to love.

Delicious December is for anyone interested in food and history, and those of Dutch descent will find many old favorites here, together with new, fresh ideas based on long traditions.

Peter G. Rose has published numerous articles and books on Dutch, Dutch American, and Hudson Valley cuisine, including Summer Pleasures, Winter Pleasures: A Hudson Valley Cookbook, also published by SUNY Press; Food, Drink and Celebrations of the Hudson Valley Dutch; The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and the New World; and Foods of the Hudson: A Seasonal Sampling of the Region's Bounty. She is the coauthor (with Donna R. Barnes) of both Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and Life and Childhood Pleasures: Dutch Children in the Seventeenth Century. In 2002 she was the recipient of the Alice P. Kenney Award for research and writing on the food customs and diet of the Dutch settlers in New Netherland. She lives in South Salem, New York.


"Food historian Peter Rose's latest book is delightful reading … I highly recommend it for blissful reading, for gift giving, and for easily getting one into the Christmas spirit. " — Firth Haring Fabend, de Halve Maen

"Delicious December, for many, will be a new look at (and taste of!) a favorite holiday. " — Kaatskill Life

". ..I remember fervently reading [Rose's] books during my student years, so you can imagine how delighted I am to have her share some of her food recollections … If you're interested in Dutch cuisine and its history, you might want to add her new book titled Delicious December to your Christmas wish list. " — Paola Westbeek, DUTCH, the magazine

"Peter Rose is a national treasure, a rare writer who understands history and a very specific place, and in this book she uses that knowledge to leave me wanting nothing more than Christmas (or a holiday if you prefer, or a long, snowy afternoon) in the Hudson River Valley and beyond. This is a wonderful book!" — Molly O'Neill, author of One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking: 600 Recipes from the Nation's Best Home Cooks, Farmers, Fishermen, Pit-masters, and Chefs

"What a treat! Not only does Peter Rose provide us with an enjoyable history of Santa Claus but also with seasonal recipes of treats to enjoy while reading. Now, when asked about St. Nicholas, Sinter Claes, or Santa Claus I can safely refer people to a reliable source. " — Charles T. Gehring, Director, New Netherland Research Center

"Delicious December is really two great books in one, revealing the little-known Dutch origins of American Christmas traditions, while also bringing into American kitchens dozens of lovely, festive Dutch recipes that few American cooks have ever heard of. Like a wonderful Christmas present, this book gives us historical insights we have long wished for—as well as delicious surprises we did not even know to ask for. " — Stephen Schmidt, food historian and author of Master Recipes: A New Approach to the Fundamentals of Good Cooking

"Peter Rose knows more about Dutch life and lore than anyone I've ever come across, and she's done it again! This exuberant excursion into the world of Christmas reveals the Dutch roots of many of our holiday traditions and, best of all, provides us heaps of richly tempting recipes to make everyone's favorite season even more memorable. " — Nach Waxman, owner, Kitchen Arts & Letters, Inc.