Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hooks, Lies & Alibis

Hooks, Lies & Alibis by Chef John D. Folse and Michaela D. York is one of my newest acquisitions that I will be reviewing here shortly.

It is a giant collection of fish and seafood recipes and has a world of wonderful photos and stories to enjoy as well. This is a book you'll have to place on the table to read as it is so big and heavy that you could never read it in bed.

Watch for more on this book -- coming soon!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The New Portuguese Table

The New Portuguese Table

By David Leite, 2009

Anyone who has ever read any of David Leite’s food writings must have hoped he had a cookbook of his own doing a slow simmer on his foodie horizon.  This man has a way with words, as evidenced at his award winning web site, http://www.leitesculanaria.com and now he has revealed he also has a way with “slivers of whisker-thin kale” and “slices of sausage” as well.  It was just a matter of time before he served up  “The New Portuguese Table”, and that he has now done!

Born of Portuguese immigrants and raised in the US, it wasn’t until he lost his Grandmother that he begun to pay attention to the food being cooked in his Mother’s home.  He was concerned that when she passed on as well, so would all the Portuguese recipes he grew up enjoying.  He knew he did not want that to happen so went on a quest to watch her cook and documented her recipes. 

To get in touch with his ancestral culinary heritage, he visited Portugal on vacation several times through the years before deciding to live there for a year to experience the food and the country.  While becoming friends with local chefs and learning their secrets of improving old, traditional flavors with exciting new ones, he translated these techniques into how he could take his own recipes to culinary heights achievable by all cooks.

It was during that year in Portugal that his cookbook began to come together and he found that even though his mother’s recipes had the same names as those he experienced in Portugal, they didn’t taste quite the same.  There was a food revolution going on and he was in the middle of it -- in the right place, at the right time and Leite had the finesse to convey it to all of us in The New Portuguese Table.

The recipes he captured and preserved are excellent!  We’ve tried several of them and I know they will become family favorites that we will make over and over again.   Dishes such as his Lemon-Mint Chicken Soup, the Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Seeds, Smoked Paprika Oil, and my favorite - - Eggs Simmered in Tomato Sauce.  It is a simple dish, but so full of flavor that there is a risk of it replacing some old Southern favorites as my new comfort food.  The Azorean Kale, Sausage, and Bean Soup (sopa de couve) he included in the cookbook was his Mother’s recipe and that alone made me want to try it.  Like his Dad, we also tried it for breakfast one morning and found it to be just as flavorful, comforting and sustaining as it was at dinner the evening before.

The “to try” recipes waiting for me are Sweet Lemon and Black Olive Wafers and the Green Olive Dip.  The combination of those flavors in the wafers has to be as delicious as they sound and the photo alone is enough to whet the appetite.  The dip is made with milk and that intrigues me enough to try it with green olives.

Regarding the photos, The New Portuguese Table is full of engaging photos, a feature that is sure to appeal to those who like to see how the food looks when prepared.  The plus here is that there are many photos of the Portuguese countryside also – an open invitation to experience the Portuguese food heritage.

Beautiful food, charming countryside, delectable recipes, great cookbook!  What could be better?  Volume 2?  The New Portuguese Table will be as important to your cookbook collection as it is to mine!

Reviewed by Monita Olive for CookbooksEtCetera on September 3, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Best of the Best Fast & Fabulous Party Foods and Appetizer

Quail Ridge Press has once again published a cookbook that will be dear to those who like to make party foods and appetizers for their family or friends who gather 'round them.

"Best of the Best Fast & Fabulous Party Foods and Appetizers" is 274 pages of recipes that are delicious, easy and quick to prepare and will have your guests asking for the recipe so they too can make it for their next party.

As they usually do, QRP has placed the title of this cookbook on the plastic comb spine so it will be easy to spot on the shelf. Being comb bound it is also easy to lay flat while cooking from -- a feature cooks love.

This cookbook is all about parties and there is an alphabetical listing of parties in the front, such as Bunko or Bridge Party, Father's Day Cookout, Mardi Gras Madness, Super Bowl Party, Wine-Tasting Party, just to name a few. Then there is another index of Monthly Parties with 2 menus for each month with listing of recipes and page numbers included. There is yet another index of Quick Fixes -- recipes that are super quick, as well as fast and fabulous.

Some of the chapters that catch my attention are:

"Wet Your Whistle"
includes shakes, floats, smoothies, slushes, teas, punches, coolers, wines, and wassails.....WOW!

"Crunchy Munchies" include recipes for crackers, chips, toasts, wafers, nuts, popcorn, and snack mixes.

"Some Like It Hot" include recipes for hot dips, chafing dishes, fondues, and hot bread bowls.

"Cheese, Please" includes recipes for cheese balls, squares, cubes, crisps, nachos, quesadillas and spreads. This is the section where I found a winner called "It's a Snowman Cheese Ball" and was a huge hit over the holidays when family gathered for Christmas dinner at my house. This held them over until I could get it all on the table and everyone was asking for the recipe (copied below for you).

This cookbook is filled with celebration recipes as well it should be since it was published to celebrate Quail Ridge Press's 30th anniversary (1978-2008). Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley have never let us down with their BoB cookbooks and they haven't this time either.

Congratulations to McKee, Moseley and Quail Ridge Press on their busy, but exciting 30 years of giving the cookbook reader what they want -- exciting, delicious, easy, quick, challenging, unusual, wonderful recipes in wonderful cookbooks.

I believe it's time to celebrate and have a party and I know where we can get some more recipes like the one below:

"It's A Snowman Cheese Ball"

2 cups shredded 4-cheese blend
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives or green onions
1 (2-ounce) package slivered almonds, toasted
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 baby carrot

Mix cheese, cream cheese, chives, almonds, and red pepper well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Divide mixture into 3 balls -- small, medium, and large. Roll in Parmesan cheese. Arrange on serving dish small to large, like a snowman lying down. Decorate with peppercorns for eyes, mouth, and buttons, and carrot for nose. A green onion skin strip around his neck makes a scarf. Surround with crackers or cut-up fresh vegetables. Serves 16-20.

Reviewed by Monita Olive for
CookbooksEtCetera on January 4, 2009