Recent Adventures in Library Cookbooks (Vol. 1)


Homemade Decadence : irresistibly sweet, salty, gooey, sticky, fluffy, creamy, crunchy treats

  • What I made:  Peanut Butter Cream Pie (pictured)
  • What I want to make: Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies, Honey Brown Butter Cupcakes, Breakfast Nachos
  • Quick Review: The title of this book is not a lie –  the dishes are over the top in all the best ways. If this pie is any indication, the recipes are easy-to-follow and well-tested. I didn’t love Joy Wilson’s first book, but she more than made up for it with these offerings. I wanted to renew this one and whip up more treats, but sadly the book was due back because another foodie library user requested it. I’ll be revisiting as soon as the wait list goes down!

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Martha New Pies and Tarts: 150 Recipes for old-fashioned and modern favorites

  • What I made: Chocolate Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust (pictured), Classic Pumpkin Pie, Pâte Brisée
  • What I wanted to make: Pretty much everything–it’s a whole book of pies!
  • Quick Review: No matter what you think of her persona (and her egregious perpetuation of the word “tablescape”), you have to admit that Martha Stewart has a lock on good recipes. She rarely lets me down. This book’s recipe for Pâte Brisée, a French pastry crust, was so easy and so delicious it had me considering turning my back on my go-to pie crust recipe. I also loved that this book had recipes for beginners and more advanced pie-makers. This is definitely one you could renew a few times and learn a lot from.

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Pies and tarts : the definitive guide to classic and contemporary favorites from the world’s premier culinary college

  • What I made: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie (pictured)
  • What I want to make: Raspberry Mascarpone Tart, Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust
  • Quick Review: I had this checked out at the same time as the Martha Stewart book, and I definitely thought the Martha Stewart recipes were better. However, if you already have a pretty good sense of pie-making, this book does offer some yummy ideas and flavor combination, but you might have to make some adjustments to the recipes.

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The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

  • What I made: Sweet Peas & Shells Alfredo (pictured), Artichoke Heart-Stuffed Shells with Lemon Béchamel, Brownie Roll-out cookies
  • What I want to make: Broccoli Rabe Panini with Mozzarella,  Whole Lemon Bars, Tomato Scallion Shortcakes with Whipped Goat Cheese (pictured on the cover)
  • Quick Review: If you’re already a fan of the Smitten Kitchen blog, you’ll know and love Deb Pearlman’s unfussy recipes for delicious, fresh food and special, homemade desserts. I loved the clear, understated photography and concise directions.

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Sugar and Spice: Sweets and Treats from Around the World

  • What I made: Lemon Shortbread (pictured)
  • What I want to make: Pistachio and Almond Brittle, Chili and Vanilla Truffles, Mango Moons
  • Quick Review: Pluses:  This book offers a nice variety of sweet treats, from quick-to-make candies to more elaborate baking projects, and I loved that it converted every recipe into both metric and American units. Minuses:  I wasn’t a huge fan of the layout and design, and I wished the amount of information about each of the recipes was consistent – in a cookbook billing itself on showcasing food from around the globe, there was a surprising lack of information about where many of the recipes came from.

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Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People who Totally Love Food

  • What I made: Autumn Crostini (pictured), Grilled Feta Flank Steak with Sriracha Crema, Jalapeno-pineapple pizza with BBQ Bourbon drizzle (yes, seriously), Vanilla-Ginger Mojitos, Greens & Beans Burgers
  • What I want to make: Breakfast Risotto, Blue-Cheese Avocado Dressing, Brussels-Chorizo Nachos, Coffee & Donuts Ice Cream
  • Quick Review: Skip the recipe pictured here, it was a total dud, but everything else was so fantastic and fun it didn’t take me long to decide I wanted a copy of this for my home cookbook library. Bonus: every recipe was developed and photographed in the author’s home right here in Pittsburgh.

Happy cooking!



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6 responses to “Recent Adventures in Library Cookbooks (Vol. 1)

  1. Beth L

    I just want to know how I missed the tastings!

  2. Awesome post! I’ve feared pie-making for too long. You’ve given me the courage, Ginny!

  3. This is an amazingly inspiring post – I put one of the books on hold at the library (Wilson’s latest) and ordered another one (Martha’s New Pies) before even reading to the end!
    I have good experiences pre-Internet with library-borrowed cookbooks. Some of my best recipes were copied from library books long ago, and you’ve reminded me not to neglect that resource.

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