Cookbooks make perfect giftsfor anyone who likes to cook, dedicated foodies, totally sustainable and organic types, culinary travelers or those who just like whipping up a quick and easy dinner or dessert.
Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living
By Annie Corrigan with Daniel Orr
Indiana University Press $30
Earth Eats, a weekly NPR program hosted by Chef Daniel Orr about real food and green living, is now a great cookbook written and edited by Annie Corrigan. The two explore local food and sustainable agriculture. Many of the recipes are Indiana-centric, using ingredients like paw paws, zucchini and persimmons and such Hoosier classics like sugar cream pie, apple butter, fried green tomatoes and succotash.
No-Bake Strawberry Rhubarb Tart
3 1/2–4 cups rhubarb (cut into 1/4"–1/2" pieces)
1/2 cup sugar
DIRECTIONS: Prepared pastry shells
Cook rhubarb and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat for 15–20 minutes.
The rhubarb will cook down and become tender, from a celery-like consistency to more of an apple-butter consistency.
Meanwhile, combine strawberries with strawberry jam.
To assemble the tart, spread rhubarb compote into a prebaked pastry shell.
Top with strawberries.
Deepa’s Secrets: Slow Carb/New Indian Cuisine
By Deepa Thomas
Skyhorse Publishing $24.99
Both a cookbook and memoir, author Deepa Thomas shows how, upon learning that rice and bread helped contribute to her husband’s Type 2 diabetes, re-created many of the traditional dishes of her native Indian cuisine all without losing the rich complexity of flavors and taste. The book incorporates both Western cooking techniques and Ayurvedic dietary wisdom. "When diet is right, medicine is of no need; and when diet is wrong, medicine is of no use."
Spicy Snacking Peanuts
Yield: 3 Cups
1 teaspoon unrefined coconut oil
8 curry leaves
3 cups Indian or Spanish peanuts (small, with skin)
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon chaat masala
½ teaspoon salt
DIRECTIONS: Heat oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add curry leaves and peanuts, taking care to shield yourself with a lid as curry leaves will splutter. Stir peanuts until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients, except salt. Check seasoning (chaat masala has black salt in it) before adding salt.
Cool and store in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks. Warm before serving.
Delicious Poke Cakes: 80 Super Simple Desserts with an Extra Flavor Punch in Each Bite
By Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss
St. Martin’s $19.99
"So, what are poke cakes?" I wondered when I received a copy of this new cookbook. Turns out they’re simple cakes made from scratch or a box mix and then taken up several notches or more by adding a variety of glazes, puddings and sauces by poking holes in the top of the cake.
Voila — a plain cake turned into so much more!
S’More Poke Brownies
Makes one 9x13-inch pan
Nonstick cooking spray
1 (18.3-ounce) box (9 x 13-oz size) chewy fudge brownie mix
Eggs, oil, and water as directed on the brownie mix box
1 (7.5-oz) jar marshmallow creme
3 tablespoons water
4 (1.55-oz) milk chocolate candy bars, broken into small pieces
2 cups broken graham crackers
3 cups mini marshmallows
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Prepare and bake brownies according to the package directions for a 9 x 13-inch pan of brownies. Place the brownies on a wire rack, but do not allow to cool.
While the brownies are baking, place the marshmallow creme in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave on High (100%) power for 30 seconds. Add the water and stir until smooth.
Poke holes evenly over the baked brownies using the handle of a wooden spoon. Pour the warm marshmallow cream evenly into the holes and over the top of the hot brownies. Scatter the milk chocolate evenly over the warm marshmallow creme. Sprinkle evenly with the graham crackers and mini marshmallows. Let cool completely before serving.
Dinner: Changing the Game
By Melissa Clark
Clarkson Potter $35
I love any cookbook by Melissa Clark, a staff writer for the New York Times. Her recipes are always intriguing, and incorporate new ingredients in easy to use ways.
Eggplant and with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
3 small (1¼ pounds) eggplants, stems removed, flesh sliced in ¼-inch rounds
4 medium (1 pound) tomatoes, sliced in ¼-inch rounds
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 400º. In a large bowl, toss together the eggplant rounds, tomatoes, lemon zest, thyme, garlic, and ¼ cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
In a 9-inch gratin dish, arrange the vegetables while tucking small crumbles of goat cheese underneath each vegetable. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the shingled vegetables and sprinkle the panko on top. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake the gratin until it is tender and golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Serve hot and directly out of the baking dish.
Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving Including the World’s Best Salted Caramel Sauce
By Emily Paster
Storey Publishing $19.95
Emily Paster, a Chicago-based food and entertaining writer who also teaches classes in how to cook and can, wanted to bring back an old-fashioned concept from our country’s agricultural days — food swapping. As in I’ll give you a dozen eggs in exchange of a pound of butter. Describing it as a way to build a stronger and more connected food-loving community, Paster co-founded Chicago Food Swap. Her book Food Swap shares how to create such an organization in your own community and also shares recipes and tips.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Truffles
Makes 3 dozen truffles
1 cup heavy cream
½ vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise and opened
1 cinnamon stick
1¼ pounds bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Cocoa powder for dusting
DIRECTIONS: Combine the cream, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and allow the vanilla and cinnamon to steep in the cream for up to 1 hour.
In the meantime, finely chop the chocolate and put it in a heatproof glass bowl. Add the cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.
When the cream is infused to your liking, remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean and bring the cream back up to a simmer over medium heat.
Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and stir until completely smooth. (If the cream was not warm enough to melt the chocolate, microwave it in 10-second bursts until the chocolate is completely melted.) Stir in the butter. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the mixture is firm, about 2 hours.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a melon baller or two teaspoons, scoop spoonfuls of ganache onto the baking sheets. You should be able to get at least 3 dozen. (If the ganache is too firm to scoop, allow it to come to room temperature and try again.) Use your hands to roll the scoops of ganache into smooth balls. Dust the truffles with a light coating of cocoa powder.
Store the truffles in the refrigerator until ready to serve or swap.
PACKAGING: You can package the truffles by the dozen in a cellophane bag, or for a fancier presentation, place each truffle in an individual paper or foil candy cup in a pretty box.