Mother’s Best by Lisa Schroeder

We finish up our week-long look at new cookbooks with a look at comfort food – always in season!

s bestThe winter holidays bring us back to home, to memories and to traditions. Now, even if you no longer go to grandmother’s house for you family dinner, you can bring some of those traditional foods to your own kitchen with the help of Mother’s Best by Lisa Schroeder.

Although leaning toward Southern favorites (pulled pork, biscuits and gravy, crab cakes) this book is filled with favorites from many different traditions and is based on a popular Portland, Oregon eatery. Recipes range from hummus to creamed spinach to french toast to tofu scramble. An entire chapter is devoted just to macaroni and cheese, the ultimate comfort food. Don’t dismiss these recipes as fuddy-duddy though – they’re written for the modern cook with straightforward instructions and lots of tips and hints. It’s almost as good as having Mom helping you out in the kitchen!

The Essential Dinner Tonight Cookbook from Cooking Light

In our next food focus post here at Davenport Library, let’s focus on quick and healthy. Don’t worry it’s still delicious!

cookinglightHere we are, teetering on the edge of the biggest season-of-excess of the year. Soon we’ll be under constant temptation – table-groaning feasts, endless varieties of dips and snacks, as-far-as-the-eye-can-see plates of cookies. But squeezing some healthy meals in amongst the chaos isn’t impossible and avoiding even a few fast food/pizza delivery options will pay off – maybe your January resolution to lose weight won’t be so daunting!

Cooking Light comes to the rescue with The Essential Dinner Tonight Cookbook. Great for any time of the year, the quick and simple recipes will fill you up without sacrificing good taste. A lot of the recipes are old favorites that have been reworked to be healthier – meatloaf, cheeseburgers, pizza – as well as lots of  fresh new ideas. Preperation is straightforward and quick – most make perfect weeknight meals. Menu ideas are included for each dish and a “game plan” to help you organize and get everything on the table at the same time. Cooking healthy couldn’t be easier – or tastier!

Cooking for Friends by Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm

Cooking for holidays continues here at Davenport with this mouthwatering book, great for the festive season – or any season.

cookingforfriendsThe holidays have always been about family and tradition, but the modern reality is that for many people, our blood relations are scattered across the country (and the world) While “coming home for the holidays” is a wonderful option, it’s not always possible. And so, if we’re lucky, our friends become our family.

Cooking for Friends by Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm celebrates these special people and times with simple, elegant recipes. There’s nothing too complicated or over-the-top here; the emphasis is on really great food and sharing it with some of your favorite people. Fresh, in-season ingredients and straightforward cooking techniques give this book a modern edge. Recipes run the gamut from drinks and starters to soups and salads to main dishes and desserts.

One great feature is their numerous “four ways” suggestions where they take one main ingredient and show four different ways to prepare it – “potatoes four ways” has whole potatoes with spring herbs, roasted fingerlings with garlic, red potatoes with gruyere and new potatoes with creme fraiche. You’ll also find an “inspired by” section which lists fruits, vegetables, herbs and even flowers that are available by season and then puts together menus that makes the best use of them.

The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

It’s almost here – the non-stop food fest that we call “the Holiday Season”! The next six weeks, from Thanksgiving to New Years will be filled with eating opportunities galore. In any culture, sharing food – especially homemade food – brings together families, friends and communities, creating bonds that last. Putting together all of that food can be a lot of work though, so this week the Info Cafe blog is going to focus on some of the new cookbooks that are now available. Be sure to stop by the library and check out a copy!

newthanksgivingtableThanksgiving, a holiday celebrating the harvest, is all about food – there’s no pressure to find the perfect present or outdo the neighbors with your light display. It’s also maybe the most traditional – almost everyone automatically thinks of turkey when they think of Thanksgiving. It’s how you fix the turkey and your choice of side dishes where family traditions take over.

If you’re looking for something different, or if this is your first year hosting the big event, take a look at The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan with it’s traditional yet fresh approach to the meal. There is a nice variety of choices listed for the basics – turkey, stuffing, gravy, vegetables, deserts – with some interesting twists included. How about Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting instead of the ubiquitous  pumpkin pie? Or shake things up with Molly’s Pumpkin-and-Sage Lasagna.

Two chapters make this book a stand-out – “Regional Thanksgiving Menus with Timetables” that will help any cook plan for the big day, and “Leftover Favorites” which lists several tasty ways to deal with leftovers that go beyond the turkey sandwich.

And don’t despair if you can’t get ahold of this book in time for Thanksgiving – the autumn themed recipes will be just as delicious at Christmas or New Years, or any wintertime family gathering.

Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook by Brian Yarvin

Too Many Tomatoes CookbookOK, I admit, this might not be the year that you’re worried about too many tomatoes; it may be the year that you’re worried about not enough! Just in case the weather takes a turn and starts to co-operate, we’ve got  all of your excessive tomato harvest problems solved with The Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook by Brian Yarvin.

You’ll find all the things you’d expect in a cookbook about tomatoes – sauces, soups and stews, pizza, lasagna and salads as well as tomato preservation basics – roasting, drying and freezing. There are also more unique entries such as Hawaiian-Style Salmon Salad, Korean-Style Tomatoes Sprinkled with Sugar, and South African Train Smash.  Recipes come from across the world, proving that this uniquely New World vegetable (or is it a fruit?) has been embraced by countries and cultures as diverse as Italy, Thailand, Greece, Albania, Turkey, Hungary and Japan. Scattered throughout are various essays on tomato farmers and vendors and chefs, tomato facts and tomato-centric events. Beautifully produced with lots of goroegous photos and an encouraging and friendly writing style, you’ll find yourself reaching for this book time after time.

Now, all we need is some tomato-growing weather!

Good Food on the Screen

Julie and JuliaThe long anticipated movie Julie and Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, opens today and whatever the reviews, it’s sure to be filled with beautiful food. Based on the book Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, it follows the cooking adventures of a young woman who, in an attempt to bring some focus to her life, decides to make every recipe in Julia Child’s iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking – in one year and all in her tiny kitchen.

This isn’t the first time food has been the centerpiece of a film. Take a look at these entries for more mouthwatering fun:

Big Night – An Italian restaurant on the brink of closing pulls out all the stops in one last attempt to keep the kitchen running.

Babette’s Feast – An unexpected windfall allows Babette to create a once-in-a-lifetime banquet for her longtime benefactors, a pious religious group that deny earthly pleasure.

Chocolat – When a mysterious single mother moves into a small French village and opens a chocolate shop, magic and controversy soon follow.

Sideways – Two best friends spend a week touring the California wine country, discovering passion, exploring their failures and searching for the perfect wine.

Like Water for Chocolate – In this romantic fantasy a couple is denied the chance to marry. To be near her, the young man marries her sister and she expresses her passion for him through her cooking.

Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber

Rustic fruit dessertsTart, cobbler, grunt, slump, crisp, crumble, betty, pandowdy, buckle, teacake, galette, fool, trifle and pie – all of the evocative names (some unique to different parts of the country), all meant for one thing – delicious fruit desserts. Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber collects some of the best of these simple and satisfying dishes in this charming book.

Recipes are arranged by season, so you can take advantage of the beautiful peaches, nectarines and apricots that are available now, open it again in the fall when the pears, apples and figs arrive and then again in the spring for ideas for strawberries, rhubarb and cherries. In addition to recipes for the more common fruits from blueberries to raspberries, some lesser-known fruits – huckleberries, currants, marionberries, plumcots and pluots – are also represented. Recipes are straightforward and unintimadating – even the beginner will find success. And what better way to take advantage of the changing seasons than with fresh fruit desserts?

Cooking with My Indian Mother-in-Law by Simon Daley with Roshan Hirani

CookingThis is a book about home cooking, but it’s also a book about family and the timeless tradition of passing down knowledge, from elder to child, mother to daughter or, in this case, mother-in-law to son-in-law. Daley has meticulously and lovingly recorded not only his mother-in-laws recipes, tips and advice, but also the the stories behind the recipes – family ancedotes, who passed the recipe on to her, influences from other countries and cultures, and which ones are favorites of guests and family alike. Keeping the project in the family, the beautiful photographs were made by Daley’s wife/Hirami’s daughter Salima.

You’ll find all of your favorites here, covering vegetables, lamb, chicken, rice, chutneys and sweets, all written for the home cook. There is special emphasis on the spices and techniques that make Indian cuisine so unique. While many of the dishes may seem exotic and difficult at first glance, closer inspection shows that even a beginner will soon be cooking authentic, delicious Indian food.

Easy Gluten-Free Baking by Elizabeth Barbone

Easy Gluten Free BakingThe diagnosis of a wheat allergy or celiac disease can be devasting for the cook when they realize just how much wheat, wheat-by products and related grains are present in common foods and ingredients. Planning and preparing meals that are flavorful and healthy may seem impossible. If you’re in this boat, we’ve got a lifesaver for you – Easy Gluten-Free Baking by Elizabeth Barbone will make working in the kitchen a pleasure again.

Recipes cover all the favorites – muffins and quick breads, yeast breads, cookies, cakes and pies. There’s even a chapter on “tastes like” so that you can reproduce some of those treats you can no longer eat – Twinkies, Oreos, Ritz crackers and even saltine crackers. Best of all, everyone, whether they are on a gluten-free diet or not, will love the results.

Barbone tested each recipe 40-50 times, so you know there aren’t going to be any surprises and they’ll work every time. There’s lots of information about how to stock your gluten-free kitchen and tips for converting recipes to gluten-free. The ingredients used throughout the book are easy-to-find.

Barbone is also the founder of the popular Web site GlutenFreeBaking where you can find lots more resources and advice for people living gluten free.

Gale Gand’s Brunch by Gale Gand

s-brunch“Brunch” always means something special – a celebration or gathering. Now you can make any occassion – like “it’s the weekend” – special with the help of  Gale Gand’s Brunch.

Gale includes the standards – eggs, pancakes, scones and muffins – but she also throws in some unexpected entries such as potstickers, lemony wheatberry salad and pretzles. Basic recipes for classic brunch dishes – omelets, waffles, pancakes, crepes, strata, quiche – are outlined, then fun and interesting variations for each are suggested. Recipes are straightforward and simple – because who wants to spend time in the kitchen during brunch? There’s  something for every taste from Peanut Butter and Jelly Turnovers to Almond Ciabatta French Toast to Apricot Chicken Salad. Now any day – and any meal – can be special.