Tag Archives: Cookbooks

Fall Cooking with Maple by Katie Webster #weekendcooking

Just after I posted about 2017 food trends last weekend, there was an article in Sunday’s paper about how Maple may be overtaking Pumpkin Spice as the trendiest fall food flavor. Since pumpkin spice has “jumped the shark” with pumpkin-spice dog treats and pumpkin-spice ramen noodles. (Something like that…I can’t be sure because He Who Shall Not Be Named recycled the paper in a fit of tidiness only two days after we got it.)

Here’s an article from The Kitchn we can talk about instead: Forget Pumpkin Spice: This Is Fall’s Trendiest Flavor Right Now.

The Kitchn picks on CVS as a prime example of Pumpkin Spice’s jumping the shark – making fun of CVS Pumpkin-Spice Cough Drops. Honey & lemon does make you think “throat-soothing” more than cinnamon & nutmeg does, but I feel sorry for companies who come out with stuff after the bandwagon is well on its way by. Libraries do it all the time. (You are not alone, CVS R&D Department!)

This time, I’m right on trend, because I had this cookbook checked out from the library LAST MONTH:

cover of Maple cookbook
Maple by Katie Webster (Quirk, 2015)

I have always loved maple, especially after we lived in Vermont for five years, but as a flavor, it is usually celebrated in springtime instead of fall. Maple syrup isn’t allowed on a low-carb diet, but everyone needs a splurge every now and then.

Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup is an inviting cookbook, with full-page color photos of some of the recipes. It looks like this multi-talented author takes her own photos. Check out the beautiful photos, layout, and table of contents on the publisher’s Web site.

I immediately wanted to make almost all of the recipes in this book, probably because most of them had “maple” somewhere in the name, but these are the ones I’ve marked to try soon:

Maple Tahini Chicken and Broccoli
Maple Ginger Chicken Thighs
Chicken, Peanut, and Napa Cabbage Pad Thai
Maple Ginger Roasted Salmon
Sherry Orange Quinoa
Cauliflower Salad with Black Sesame
Salted Maple Penuche Fudge
Maple Apple Almond Torte with Maple Cinnamon Glaze

The index separately lists Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Vegan recipes, but is otherwise only a recipe name index. The book doesn’t have an ingredient index (so you could look up chicken and find all the recipes using chicken, for example) which I believe every cookbook should have. But that’s my only complaint!

My Mom and I decided over the summer to schedule a night to cook and eat dinner together once a month to use recipes that she has been wanting either to make again or to try for the first time. For our last one, I strong-armed her into choosing a recipe from Maple for us to try, so we could A) use her non-gluten-free kitchen, and B) use some of the brand-new jug of pure Vermont maple syrup she had been given.

We both liked the sound of all of the main-dish recipes mentioned above, but I really wanted to make Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle. The author’s note on the recipe says:

I wish I could claim responsibility for coming up with the idea of drizzling maple on pizza. I first saw it on the menu of the local bakery of our little Vermont town. The syrup adds a lovely balance to the salty cheese. Trust me.

Mom had garden-grown arugula from my sister and Vermont maple syrup from my brother, and I brought fresh thyme from our home herb garden, so it would have been a real family affair if only we had gotten my other sister to come over to eat it!

While we were cooking and talking, I forgot the fresh thyme was supposed to go in with the caramelized onions after they finished cooking, so I had to sprinkle it onto the pizza after the fact. I forgot to put the cornmeal on the pizza pan, too, and had to lift the dough up and put it under. (I’ve decided it might be best to have the glass of wine with dinner instead of during dinner prep. )

I also didn’t add all the arugula the recipe called for (3 cups loosely packed) but I blame that on being misled by the food photography. The arugula wilted from the heat of the pizza just out of the oven, so we could have used all three cups, but the photo showed it as leafy greens atop a pizza, so I was thinking pizza would be hard to eat with all that arugula on it!

pizza
Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle

Due to time pressures, we used store-bought dough instead of trying the author’s recipe for Maple Wheat Pizza Dough, but the pizza was still delicious. Possibly a little too sweet, because I possibly went a little heavy on the maple syrup. (The recipe called for the pizza to be made in a rectangular baking sheet with sides and we used a round pizza pan, so we used the same amount of maple syrup on a smaller area, resulting in more maple syrup per bite.)

The cheeses on this pizza are a combination of sharp cheddar and feta, so there was a nice salty-sweet flavor to it, with pepitas adding crunch and the arugula to make it good for you.

Check out the recipe for Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle at The Splendid Table.

Oprah’s Web site has another recipe from the cookbook to try next: Slow-Cooker Chicken  Thigh Hot Pot.

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.

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Favorite Summer Cookbooks #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

Summer zoomed past with nary a Weekend Cooking post from me, so even though it’s fall now, I wanted to tell you about some of the cookbooks I cooked from (or wanted to cook from) this summer. We’re in the midst of a tropical heat wave as I write this, so it still feels like summer here in New England!

Two of the cookbooks are by mother-daughter team Linda Greenlaw and Martha Greenlaw. Linda Greenlaw is famous for being the country’s only female swordfish boat captain (She wrote The Hungry Ocean: A Swordfish Captain’s Journey) and has written several memoirs and started more recently to write mysteries. Martha Greenlaw also sounds like a captain, although she runs a different kind of tight ship – her kitchen.

The Maine Summers Cookbook
by Linda Greenlaw and Martha Greenlaw
Avery, 2011

book cover image

Recipes from a Very Small Island
by Linda Greenlaw and Martha Greenlaw
Hyperion, 2005

book cover image

These two were our main/Maine cookbook club selections this month, and they were universally liked. The funny and moving stories they contained of life in Maine  – especially on Isle au Haut, tiny island off the coast, where they are now permanent residents – made several cookbook club members go looking for Linda Greenlaw’s memoirs. I borrowed these from the library, but there were a lot of recipes I still want to make, especially after tasting a dozen different recipes at cookbook club.

As an example of Linda Greenlaw’s humorous writing, here’s a brief excerpt from the section on clambakes (she’s not a fan) titled The Beginner’s Guide to Clambakes or How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Lobster:

In preparation for a clambake, the following will be needed: lobsters, clams, corn on the cob, butter, hot dogs, marshmallows, two huge galvanized washtubs – one for the corn and one for the shellfish – firewood, several cases of beer, and as many ill-behaved children as you can find.

The first, and perhaps most critical, step toward a successful clambake is choosing the right location. Theories vary on this, but in my experience it is proper to choose a spot along the beach that is most uncomfortable. Make sure that your selected site meets at least two of the following criteria:

  1. There is absolutely nowhere to sit down.

  2. The beach is comprised of round rocks that shift when stepped on to ensure poor footing.

  3. There are sheer, jagged cliffs in the area for children to play on.

The recipe I made was simple and delicious – Smoked Salmon Spread with (Wasabi) Rice Crackers. It came from The Maine Summers Cookbook: Recipes for Delicious, Sun-Filled Days. It called for smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, minced red onion, and lemon juice. It’s a great gluten-free appetizer – for people who like smoked salmon, anyway – and can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to two weeks, which makes it a good party recipe.

The real hit of the night, though, was the Tomato, Caramelized Onion, and Brie Galette, followed closely by the Wicked Good Lobster and Black Bean Chili (not pictured.) I used a blue plate for my salmon spread and crackers contribution, thinking it looked so Maine, but didn’t notice until dessert that everything had slid to one side! #presentationfail

My personal favorite of the night was the Key Lime Rum Cake. One of the best-tasting cakes I’ve ever had! More lime flavor than rum.

All of the above recipes came from The Maine Summers Cookbook, but the cookbook club prize for most impressive recipe (if we gave out prizes) would have to go to Crab Madeleines with Citrus Tartar Sauce from Recipes from a Very Small Island.

The next one on my list is by Liz Barbour, a New England chef who has done two cooking demos at our library.

cover image

Beautifully Delicious
by Liz Barbour
Photographs and design by Celeste Guidice
Creative Feast, 2017

Beautifully Delicious: Cooking with Herbs and Edible Flowers seems expensive if you look at price vs. number of pages (only 56) but the gorgeous color photography (what you’re paying for) is truly an integral part of the book. There are step-by-step photos of many of the recipes, as well as of the end results. The book is also packed with hints and recipe variations, so even though it seems short, there’s a lot there!

Because of the edible flowers and recipes like Honeydew Cilantro Salad (Liz made this for us at the library – delicious!) and Sparkling Basil Lemonade, I think of Beautifully Delicious as a summer cookbook, but most of the recipes don’t actually require edible flowers and fresh herbs and produce are available year-round. I made the Butternut Squash with Arugula and Sage and could easily see it (or its variation, Butternut Spinach Salad) as a fall recipe. The recipes are simple and don’t require the talents of a chef to prepare.

Beautifully Delicious is formatted as a high-quality ring binder with pages that turn easily and stay open at any point in the book. You can sample Liz’s recipes on her blog, but I believe the recipes in the cookbook aren’t available online – for obvious reasons!

I didn’t get to make many recipes from this last one on my favorite summer cookbooks list, but there’s always next summer!

Summer Cocktails
by María Del Mar Sacasa
Quirk Books, 2015

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I have other cocktail books which I also don’t get to use often enough, but being someone who likes to know the proper season for things, I liked having so many light, summertime drinks collected for me in one place.

I borrowed Summer Cocktails from the library, also, but it’s going on my birthday/Christmas present wish list. The pictures are pretty; the text is entertaining; and the book opens up and lies flat. If I owned this book, it would be a keeper!

P.S. My birthday’s coming up next month and I just found out that there’s a Winter Cocktails book, too!

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Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.

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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!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click or tap on the image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.