One of the ways I keep my menus fresh and my cooking skills sharp is to check out cookbooks from the library. Here’s a look at some of the recent happenings in my kitchen:
Ample Hills Creamery: Secret and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna
What I made: Dark Chocolate Stout Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Breakfast Trash ice cream
What I want to make: The Dude (White Russian) Ice Cream, Caught in the Rain (Pina Colada Ice Cream), Nanatella Ice Cream, Cookie Au Lait Ice Cream & the list goes on.
Quick Review: I had never heard of Ample Hills before I picked up this book while browsing the stacks, (My pretentious ice cream of choice to-date had been Jeni’s), but I’m not sure why because these people know what they are doing. The ice cream recipes call for nonfat milk powder, something I’d never seen used in ice cream before, but the authors promised it would make everything creamier and more scoop-able. Guess what? It did! If you’re an at-home ice cream geek like me, pick this one up.
Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My! Recipes for 40+ delicious Super-Nutritious Superfoods by Cassie Johnston
What I Made: Greek Quinoa Salad, Rosemary Grapefruit Popsicles.
What I want to make: Chocolate Coconut Almond Butter, Coffee-Rubbed Ribeye, Bok Choy and Apple Slaw with Gogi Berries
Quick Review: There are two kinds of people: those who see the title of this book and are interested, and those who see the title of this book and kinda roll their eyes. I tend to be the former, while my husband tends to be the latter, but both of us were able to find something appealing inside. Besides recipes, this book features one-pager profiles of over 40 superfoods, breaking down the nutritional content, health benefits, and seasonal availability. The recipes are very simple, so this would be a good choice for someone who is new to cooking.
Reinventing the Classics – Simple and creative ways to rethink recipes America love best, with wine to match. Edited by
What I made: Roasted Garlic & Lemon Lamb Chops, Broccolini with Toasted Breadcrumbs, Roquefort Soufflé, Green Curry Chicken Wings, Parmesan-Crusted Rigatoni with Cauliflower
What I want to make: Chili with Hominy, Quinoa salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Butterscotch Sticky Buns
Quick Review: This is another book I picked up on a whim, and I was happy I did, because it contains exactly what the title promises. This book won’t blow your mind with overcomplicated flavor combinations and hard-to-find ingredients, but it will offer you some simple changes and twists on recipes you probably already know pretty well. I recommend this book for intermediate-level cooks who don’t know what they’re having for dinner tonight. Bonus: it includes the best chicken wing recipe I’ve ever made, and trust me, I’ve tried many.
Afro-Vegan: farm-fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Re-mixed by Bryant Terry
What I made: Smashed Potatoes with Peas, Corn, and Chile-Garlic Oil; Chipotle-Banana pepper sauce
What I want to make: Tropical Fruit Salad with Mango Lime Dressing, Fig Preserves with Thyme, Couscous with Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Currants, Grilled Corn on the Cob with Pili Pili Sauce and Spicy Mustard Greens
Quick Review: If the title alone didn’t grab you, I’m not sure what else I can say except that this book is chock-full of great, well-researched recipes, beautiful photography, and each recipe comes along with a suggested soundtrack and reading material. Oh, and did I mention the flavors are amazing? Don’t miss this one.
Fiesta at Rick’s – Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends by Rick Bayless and Deann Bayless
What I made: Roasted Garlic Guacamole, Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce, Mango Guacamole, Coconut Hortchata, Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion
What I want to make: Tequila-Infused queso fundido, Frontera Grill’s Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars, Mexican White Rice with Sweet Plantains, and, well, let’s be honest, most of the cocktails and guacamole variations.
Quick Review: To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the format of this one, but the deliciousness-factor of the recipes is pretty hard to deny. My friend and I cooked up most of the dishes listed above in one night, and then I went back for this book a second time. If you’re into party planning, this will provide some good hosting tips and preplanned menus. If you’re just into good Mexican food, flip past the table setting and mood lighting sections and dive straight into the high-quality recipes.
So – what have you been cooking lately?