Category Archives: Cookbooks

Weekend Cooking Posts That Weren’t, Part Two #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

My first  Weekend Cooking Posts That Weren’t, Part One post was about our scientific taste test of King Arthur Flour’s Cake Enhancer. Now comes Part Two – some more of the Weekend Cooking posts I planned to write in 2015 (or 2014, 2013, etc.) but didn’t:

1. Cupcakes! by Eleanor Klivans

cover image of cookbookI bought the ebook edition of Cupcakes! by Eleanor Klivans (Chronicle Books, 2005) for my Nook Color way, way back, long before pretty, pastel macarons became the new thing and cupcake bakeries started going out of business.
Cupcakes! is a lovely book with beautiful photographs and lots of yummy-sounding recipes, but the only one I tried before I switched mainly to gluten-free baking was for these Coconut Cupcakes one Easter a few years back.  Delicious!

photo of Easter coconut cupcakes
Aren’t they pretty? I even used food coloring to color the coconut green like Easter grass.
Cupcakes with colored sprinkles
I left the coconut off of some for people who don’t like coconut.

2. Le French Oven by Hilary Davis

cover imageThis Weekend Cooking review post is still to come, so this is just a preview.
I feel bad about not reviewing Le French Oven by Hilary Davis before Christmas this year, but hopefully you saw it somewhere else and put it on your wish list. If you have a French oven or those cute miniature ones called mini cocottes, you MUST GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS COOKBOOK. I, unfortunately, do not, and, for some reason, did not get one for Christmas. 😉
I’ve earmarked many recipes to try anyway, such as Artichoke Parmesan Soup, Soft Parmesan Polenta with Arugula Salad and Poached Egg, Simply Delicious Roasted Vegetables, Braised Leeks and Swiss Chard with Feta and Raisins, Roast Turkey Breast with Provencal Vegetables, and Fresh Orange Creme Caramel.
This isn’t a good choice if you’re vegetarian or on a gluten-free diet, but for everybody else…especially if you love having gorgeous photographs in your cookbooks…this is a beautifully written and well-designed cookbook to have in your collection. Plus, it lies flat and the pages are not going to come loose from the binding.
Warning: You’re going to start planning a trip to France after reading this or either of the author’s other cookbooks – French Comfort Food and Cuisine Nicoise. (Links go to my reviews.)

3. Lobster Rolls

Plate of lobster roll with French friesSummer is not official until we have our first lobster rolls. Preferably at some seaside restaurant. But my husband grew up lobstering with his father and brothers, so he knows how to cook fresh lobster, and sometimes we have it at home.
My husband makes lobster salad just the way I like it, heavy on the lobster and light on the mayo. Here’s his homemade lobster salad on a gluten-free, spinach wrap. Yummy!

IMG_2216In the Weekend Cooking post I had “planned”, I was going to discuss the different ideas people have of lobster rolls and the regional divisions between the ones with mayo and ones that are just lobster and butter in a roll.
But I like the mayo version best, so I’m not even going to bother. The lobster salad, though, has to be made with big pieces of fresh lobster with, at the most, a little chopped celery, and it has to come in a New England-style hotdog bun…grilled in butter (but not burnt like the one in this picture)…for it to be my ideal lobster roll.
Eating a lobster roll on the ocean adds to the flavor. Massachusetts lobsters are the best, of course, but we actually had our best-ever lobster rolls up in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I forget the name of the restaurant, but it’s right on the water.

Me and my husband at a table on the beachThis photo is from 2009! Since then, my hair has been steadily going gray and my husband went on a low-carb diet, so in 2016…he looks better and I look worse! (For the record, however, having seen the new Star Wars movie, I believe Carrie Fisher has aged just as well as Harrison Ford.)

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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It’s Still Summer: Pay No Attention to that CrockPot in the Corner #weekendcooking

At the library, I put out a display of summertime cookbooks over a week ago and have only had to replace a few titles since. The rest are still sitting there, as pretty and appealing as can be, but no takers.

Come on, people! There are still farmers’ markets and farm stands overflowing with all sorts of produce! Let’s keep cooking with the fresh corn, tomatoes, melons, peaches, greens, peppers, and berries. There’s time enough to move on to apples and pumpkins later.  Yes, I saw the Halloween displays in the stores on August 1st, but I’m treating them like ads on the Internet and pretending they’re not there.

That said, I did use the slow cooker a couple of times recently and made these Slow Cooker Enchiladas. I made them first for a potluck with corn tortillas, following the recipe pretty closely using chicken, corn, and black beans in the filling, and they came out great, although slightly burned on the bottom. The next time I made them, I planned on the shorter end of the suggested cooking time range, but was in a big hurry and skipped the chicken and black beans and forgot the corn and decided to use the gluten-free teff tortillas instead of corn ones, and they came out a gloppy mess. (Lesson learned: Teff tortillas dissolve if you cook them for extended periods covered in salsa.)

I have no photos from the successful or unsuccessful versions of the recipe, so you’ll have to look here for the recipe and the photos.

In celebration of its still being summer here in New England, I did make these drinks last night from an improvised recipe of my own devising. We have been eating peaches from the tree in our yard and even though we didn’t get many this year, I squandered a few small ones in this blender drink, including one that I had frozen whole as an experiment and chopped up to put in the blender frozen.

two drinks with bookcase in background
Peach-Watermelon Limoncello Coolers: Put chunks of fresh watermelon and fresh or frozen peaches in the blender to about two-thirds full. Add limoncello and a few ice cubes. Blend. Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint.

For other gluten-free CrockPot recipes for late summer and early fall, check out my Pinterest board: So Fast in the Slow Cooker.

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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Weekend Cooking — Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks #weekendcooking

book cover imageI have a feeling I know the name Rick Bayless from other Mexican food cookbooks, but what attracted me to take Frontera out from the library was the cover photo with the icy cocktail shaker, the summery cocktails, and the dish of guacamole. Looking good!

My husband already makes a perfectly wonderful guacamole (lots of cilantro) and margarita (not frozen, please, and lots of salt on the rim) without needing a recipe for either, but I might convince him to try one of the guacamole variations in this cookbook, such as Guacamole with Strawberries and Habanero or Guacamole with Bacon, Grilled Ramps (or Green Onions) and Roasted Tomatillos.

In the meantime, I’ll focus on the cocktail recipes. The author goes into detail on the making of the perfect margarita, and I definitely agree with him on the salt question (Should it even be a question?):

“Personally, for most margaritas, I don’t consider the salted glass rim an indulgence, a gilding of the lily. I consider salt as important in most margarita making as in good salsa making or good grilling. Without salt, you can produce a tasty creation…but not a drop-dead delicious one. More than any other distilled spirit, tequila has a flavor that pops when you add a little salt. Plus the combination of lime and salt seasons half of what folks eat in Mexico. So salted-rim margaritas make sense from both a flavor and a cultural perspective.”

There’s a chapter on agua frescas that gives recipes for each day of the week, and recipes for seasonal variations on the margarita — to make individual drinks and pitchers for parties. I definitely want to try the summer Peach (or Mango)-Basil Margarita using fresh basil from our garden. (The bartender’s notes for this recipe say that instead of basil, you should use the Mexican herb hoja santa, if you can find it in your area.) Find the Peach (or Mango)-Basil Margarita recipe here.

I also want to try the Black Currant-Rhubarb Margarita this summer, which calls for creme de cassis (black currant liqueur). We have rhubarb from the garden to use up!

pina coladas with chips, guacamole, and salsa
Pina coladas instead of margaritas here, but next time, margaritas a la Rick Bayless!

The recipes in Frontera seem a little time-consuming and fussy, but that’s partly because of all the detailed notes, I think. This cookbook is great for someone concerned with making these drinks and snacks in the best, most authentic way, but I think you could substitute here and there and be a little slap-dash about your preparation and still come out with some great margaritas, guacamoles, and snacks using this book!

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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