Monday, March 16, 2015

Two Cookbook Reviews

Growing up I spent fall, winter and spring in California with my mom and summers with my dad were spent in the Midwest. While spending my summers in the midwest I remember Sunday Suppers being the huge meal of the week where the whole family sat down together to eat and talk about the week.  Two meats were served one being a poultry dish and the other beef or pork. There was always a salad, two vegetables and one of them had to be a green vegetable and mashed potatoes and gravy, this was not considered a vegetable but a stable. Even if rolls were served there was always a plate of sliced white bread on the table and a simple dessert.

In California I remember going to many pot-luck picnics with friends and family that moved from the midwest to California, the families would get together to reminisce about the old neighborhoods and talk about what was presently going on in their lives.

During my teens in the 1970's I had my fair share of Avocado and Sprout sandwiches, fruit smoothies and granola, California Hippie Food. One thing that never changed was the food from the midwest and how we ate.

I have always been drawn to Southern Cooking and it's not just the fried food. During the time I was growing up in California you didn't find collard greens, black-eyed peas and fried chicken in Southern California was KFC or Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken Dinner.  Even Southern Food is getting an facelift and I love what I'm seeing.

This brings me to Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook - Recipes and Stories to Celebrate the Bounty of the Moment - a 150 seasonal Southern Recipes by Nancy Vienneau.  You can find out more about Nancy on her blog Good Food Matters along with many other delicious recipes.

The introduction is written beautifully and you can sense the love of fresh produce, cooking and friends in Nancy's writing. What really caught my eye is the cookbook is broken down by seasons/months. I wish all cookbooks were written this way. It makes it so easy to find dishes geared to what's in season and that CSA box you just received.

While I was reading  through Nancy's cookbook I kept saying to my husband Bill, oh this recipe sounds fantastic, he would ask what's in it and I would list off the ingredients to him and he would say, bookmark that one. I ended up with a bunch of of post-it's marking all the recipes that need to be made first. Here are some of my favorites that I'm looking forward to preparing first, no joke I didn't find one recipe that I didn't want to make. I love the section for gifts you can make and not all of them are edible like Jessi's Lavender-Oat Bath Soak.

Plumgood Roast Chicken
Teresa's Cucumber Salad with a Caribbean Twist
Warm German-Style Potato Salad with Benton's Bacon (this one reminds me of those pot-lucks I went to growing up)
Gigi's Pavlova
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart with Olive Oil Crust
Honeycrust Fried Chicken Tenders
Bourbon Pecan Bars (I got Bill's attention with this recipe)
I'm just going to say it - The whole section on Figs - we love figs
Deep-Dish Lemon Tomato and Lemon Basil Pie
Diane Stopford's Autumnal Cocktail
Not Your '70s Green Bean Casserole
Cathy's Euphoric Raspberry Mojitos
Watermelon Margarita Wedges (you can not believe how happy I am that watermelon season is just around the corner)

Keeping with the Southern theme is The Southern Pantry Cookbook 105 Recipes Already Hiding in your Kitchen by Jennifer Chandler you can find out more about Jennifer and her other cookbooks on her website Cook With Jennifer.

The first thing that grabs you with Jennifer's cookbook are the biscuits on the dust jacket. Jennifer's introduction Welcome to my Table is just that welcoming reading about her family and where her cooking roots comes from makes me feel like part of the family.

I love the section "A Well-Stocked Pantry" Southern Pantry Essentials. I found this thoughtfully written and a huge asset to the cookbook along with the section on Cooking Tools. This cookbook would be a perfect Shower or New Home gift.

Again there are so many recipes I'm itching to make out of The Southern Pantry, here are a few that caught my eye.

Cheddar-Pecan Shortbread (I have already made these, so much flavor)
Tex-Mex Corn Dip
Corn Salad (are you thinking corn season is just around the corner too)
Shrimp Remoulade Salad
Southern Chicken Salad
Creamy Vidalia Onion Soup
Braised Chicken With Mushrooms and Grits (OMG, I'm drooling over this dish)
Grilled Chicken with Peach Barbecue Sauce
Fried Pork Medallions with White Milk Gravy
Honey-Balsamic Flank Steak
Blackened Red Snapper
Snapper with Mustard-Pecan Crust (Bill can not make up his mind which Snapper recipe to make first)
Trout Amandine (I think the Trout is going to be first I have it in the freezer)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (I have made these, they were gone by the next day)

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