Cookbooks I Love- Part 2

Monday, April 19, 2010

I don't own any of these but I would like to someday. For now, I can always check them out at my local library.

1. How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition) by Mark Bittman. I seriously believe that everyone should have this book. It has 2,000 recipes ranging from basics (e.g. Cinnamon Toast, Grilled Cheese) to the complex (e.g. pie crusts from scratch,  preparing lobster, etc.). The recipes tell you how many servings, how long to take, and an easy-to-follow step-by-step approach. Illustrations are few but very helpful. He also includes variations on basic recipes, like sandwiches, fried chicken.

2. Emeril 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast by Emeril Lagasse. I think this book is one of his best. There are numerous dishes divided up to how long it will take to prepare, start to finish. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many dishes were in the 20 minute section. I had posted a 20 minute recipe in my last blog, the PB and Chocolate Chip cookies. Here are some sample dishes: Fish En Papillote, Bruschetta, Pasta Primavera, Steak Au Poivre, Orange, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Salad, Shrimp Etouffe, and Trout a La Meuniere.
I think this book would resonate well with home cooks.

3. Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. If you ever wanted to learn how to make beautiful and delicious cakes from scratch, take a look at this book. There are some tempting cakes: Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake, Golden Lemon Almond Cake, and Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache to Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake, Mud Turtle Cupcakes, and Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake. I consider this book great for intermediate to advanced bakers. I consider myself a novice cake baker so it'll be a little while before I feel like I can tackle on one of these recipes.

4. Martha Stewart's Cupcakes by Martha Stewart. The domestic diva has done it again. Who knew that there could be 175 ideas and recipes on cupcakes? These recipes are all from scratch (it is Martha, after all). But not terribly intimidating for home cooks. I plan on making several of these recipe later in the year. Her book is divided into 4 sections. Her book has more traditional cupcakes, such as Chocolate Chip, Carrot Cake, and Red Velvet to lesser-known cupcakes, Stout Cupcakes (Guinness in cupcakes? Can't wait!) and Snickerdoodle Cupcakes.

5. Cake Mix Cookies by Camilla V. Saulsbury. I adore Ms. Saulsbury's recipes. Each one of her books has a lot of helpful tips and information about baking/cooking. Each one of the recipes requires a standard 18.25-ounce box of cake mix with some embellishments (e.g. chocolate chips, nuts, etc.). There are more than 175 recipes in this book. She has her book divided into several sections: drop cookies, bar cookies, shaped and filled cookies. The recipes are straightforward and easy-to-follow. A must for novice bakers or anyone who wants great cookies fast.

6. The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. My mom has this book and she's a pro at making cakes from scratch. But every now and then, you want to make a great cake without all the fuss. I have made several cakes from this book and no one would even guess that the cakes were not made from scratch! My hubby's personal favorite from this book is the Boston Cream Pie Cake. Here are some other cakes: Deeply Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, Banana Cake with Quick Caramel Frosting, and Lemon Buttermilk Poppy Seed Cake.

7. Brownie Mix Bliss by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Similar to the cake mix cookie book, you just need a regular box of brownie mix. The book ranges from sophisticated biscotti, soufflé cakes, madeleines, and cheesecakes to nostalgic drop cookies ice cream novelties, gooey layered bar cookies, etc.

8. America's Most Wanted Recipes by Ron Douglas. If you ever wanted to have some restaurant meals for a fraction of the cost at home, try this book out. There are over 200 recipes from 57 of popular American restaurants: Benihana, The Cheesecake Factory, KFC, Olive Garden, P.F. Chang, Red Lobster, and Outback Steakhouse. The recipes are easy-to-follow, many are on one page. Personally, I can't wait to make Benihana's fried rice.

I may never buy cookies again

Friday, April 16, 2010

I am working on a couple food blog projects. One book that I picked up from the library and will be discussing in a future blog is Emeril's 20-40-60 Fresh Food Fast book.

I noticed in the 20 minutes or less section there was a recipe for peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies. Cookies from scratch in 20 minutes?! I was skeptical but decided to give it a try today.

Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook time: 10 minutes, Total: 15 minutes

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Position two oven racks in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  3. Divide the dough into 24 portions, about 1 heaping tablespoon each. Roll each portion between your hands to form a smooth bowl. Place the balls of dough on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. You should get about 12 cookies per sheet. Using a fork, press on the dough in two directions to form a crosshatch pattern.
  4. Bake the cookies, rotating the sheets between oven racks and turning them back to front midway, until the cookies are puffed and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies cool on the sheets. Then remove them with a metal spatula.
About 24 cookies

I actually didn't have light brown sugar so I looked up what substitutes. Apparently, you can use dark brown sugar and granulated sugar. I realize now that I also forgot to beat the egg separately before incorporating it into the mix.

Maybe this is why I ended up with 18 cookies rather than 24. Oh well. I had a few and they were so good!

I wonder if Emeril has other easy cookie recipes. If I can find more easy peasy cookie recipes, I may never buy cookies again.

Upcoming projects

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hi readers,
     I have a few blog projects that I'm currently working on. I went to the library today and got lots of great cookbooks for research.

New blog layout

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hope you like the new layout. I felt it was time for a little change.

Prepping for a Potluck

My personal life has been chaos so I apologize for the lack of recent updates this year. Can I just say that, so far, 2010, has NOT been my year?

My temp job ended recently so I find myself with the challenges of A) finding a new job, and B) what to do with my ample free time.

As I continue to work on the job, I decided to start cooking again. It has been months since I have really cooked or baked except for my cheesecake debacle. My last job was over 20 miles away from home and I would spend 2 hours a day driving to and from work. This, as you can imagine, leaves little energy and time for home-cooked meals.

Enter Trader Joe's. What did I do before I rediscovered them?

Last week, I paid a visit to a friend and former co-worker, Iris. Iris is also a fellow foodie and baker. We bonded quickly over lunches out of the office together. She's still looking for work as well.

Tulip's potluck had me in a dilemma. What on earth was I going to bring to the potluck? Even though Tulip is one of my biggest culinary fans, it's different cooking something for complete strangers. Potlucks are a special challenge: food needs to be in larger quantities and portable.

I narrowed down my choices to either an appetizer or a dessert. I figured, why not a cake?
Iris gave me a chocolate cake recipe to try.

I had fun making the cake although I need to learn how to frost a cake properly. You can tell it was homemade, huh?

I also need to learn how to take good food pics. Any food stylists and food photographers out there- please feel free to share some tips with me!

My hubby came for a visit from a job in Fresno. I gave him about half of the cake to take with him. He really enjoyed it and said that it was the best thing he's eaten in months. (Of course, since he's been on the road, he's been eating fast food. So I have to take that comment with a little grain of salt.)

I am looking forward to making this cake again Friday night and frost it on Saturday before the potluck.

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