Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time to Get Cookin'

So we are fast approaching one of the biggest food days of the year. I happen to be a cookbook afficianado (some would say "junkie") and so I thought I'd share with you some of the favorite cookbooks to enter my kitchen in the last year.
First, an old favorite made new again: The Essential New York Times Cookbook. This book compiles recipes from the era that the Times first started (late 19th century) and goes right up to the trendiest sort of new cuisine. I just bought this book for myself as an early Christmas present and have found several recipes to make in the next couple of weeks. The choices range from a Pork and Squash Stew in Coconut Milk to Chicken Paprikash to Eggs with a Chorizo/Date Paste. Plus, this book is a food nerd's dream, due to the timelines in each chapter that talk about food trends- how salads went from suspending everything in Jell-o to the minimalist microgreens of the nineties. Lots of cream, lots of butter, and lots of goodness.
Next, here's a great party cookbook: Fiesta at Rick's by that great interpreter of Mexican food, Rick Bayless. I've got a crush on him. This book has the best guacamole recipe I've ever tried (with sun-dried tomatoes), a killer chipotle-glazed baby back rib recipe, and will tell you how to dig a pit and roast an entire lamb in your back yard, if you like. Since this is a book geared toward parties, there are menus planned and large portion sizes planned for you. Plus a great section on drinks for margaritas and mojitos galore, plus a limey and spicy beer if you want something a little different.
If you're like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about dessert, so I've got two dessert cookbooks for you. First is Rustic Fruit Desserts. The book is organized by seasonal availability of fruit, so you can make a Rhubarb Fool in the spring, a Stone Fruit Tea Cake in the Summer (and you should definitely do that), a Maple Apple Dumpling in the fall, and and a Cranberry Upside-Down Almond Cake for the holidays (hmmm....). Chocolate is my go-to dessert, but I find myself going to this book again and again for desserts when I have guests. Much as I love chocolate, it's hard to beat an Apricot Raspberry Cobbler just out of the oven with vanilla ice cream on top.
Finally, I've got to talk about the new Gourmet Cookie Book. You may be aware that magazine was forced to close its doors last year. The silver lining of that dark cloud is that they are now working to release many of their recipes in book form. This particular little gem showcases one cookies recipe per year that Gourmet was publishing from 1941 to 2009. I'm cooking from this book for our Tea and Cookies event that will be happening next Wednesday at 6, in partnership with the awesome Happy Lucky's Teahouse, our lovely neighbor. I had to choose one, just one, recipe to make from this book for samples. Would it be Currant-Studded Madeleines from 1952, Mocha Toffee Bars from 1987, Strawberry Tart Cookies from 1993, or Ginger Shortbread with Ginger-Infused Frosting from 1999? Because of the tea factor, I've ended up going with the ginger shortbread, but you could buy the book and try all these recipes, plus more!
So these are a few of my favorite things. Come by and let me know what your favorite cookbooks are- my shelf can always hold one more!

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