Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy #AbramsDinnerParty

Yes, I'll admit it. I watch some of the competition shows on Food Network.

Damaris Phillips was one of the cooks I enjoyed on her season of ... whatever show she was on. She was warm and charming and I thought she'd be fun to hang out with. And her recipes looked like I'd enjoy them. They were homey and not overwrought.

So, when her new cookbook, Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy dropped onto my doorstep, I was pretty curious about it.

This book is yet another one that's part of the Abrams Dinner Party - they're sending me their complete library of new cookbooks for this season.

Let's get it out there, shall we? I'm not at all a vegetarian. Nope. I have pointy teeth and enjoy a good burger or a rack of ribs.

On the other hand, I've been eating a lot of meatless meals lately. It seems like it's a lot easier to cook a small meatless meal than it is to cook a meat-centric meal. Even a single steak or chicken breast is two meals for me - if not more - and meatloaf or pretty much any roast piece of meat is a commitment. It's hard to cook a small amount of stew or chili or ... a whole lot of other meaty meals.

On the other hand, a vegetable-centric main dish can easily be a side dish the next day.

So. The cookbook. That's where we were before I went rambling.

The book is an interesting mix. There are some recipes designed for vegetarians, using something like tempeh as the protein, and then there is an option to substitute meat for the tempeh. Some recipes are naturally vegetarian, like fried green tomatoes, cole slaw, or grits & greens.

Some recipes are those where you might expect meat, but it's not totally necessary, like baked beans. The version in this book includes blackberries, which I thought was really intriguing, and not just baked beans with the pork ripped out.

Since this is aimed at vegetarians rather than vegans, there are plenty of recipes featuring cheese or eggs like the beer mac and cheese or the deviled eggs. Those will make everyone happy.

And then sometimes there are recipes where the whole shebang has two different recipes. For example, the bourbon spaghetti and meatballs has one recipe that uses meat for the meatballs, while the other recipe has pecan meatballs.

And then there are the desserts, because it's a comprehensive cookbook.

I've got to say that if you're a meat eater cooking for a vegetarian family member, this book would certainly make it easier. For me, while I'm not likely to cook seitan "chicken" any time soon, there are plenty of recipes here that look appealing, possibly starting with the grilled succotash pasta salad. Because I'm a sucker for pasta salad.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Artful Baker #AbramsDinnerParty

If you're looking for a large baking book that will have you in awe of the stunning food photography, The Artful Bakerby Cenk S√∂nmezsoy is a treat for the eyes, with recipes you'll want to make.

By the way, I got this book for participating in the Abrams Dinner Party - they're sending me their complete library of new cookbooks for this season.

From the symmetrical fig, thyme and bleu cheese galette, to the chocolate and salted caramel tart on a very whimsical plate, to the messily attractive raspberry jewel pluot galette, to the blanche that looks like a painting, every photo is a gem.

A lot of cookbooks that have pretty pictures are filled with recipes that require difficult ingredients, but this one keeps the list reasonable. Or you'll be able to find substitutes. Like those raspberry jewel pluots. If you can't find exactly that variety, it's a good bet you'll be able to find another variety that will work just as well.

After wandering back and forth through this book several times, I think the most difficult ingredient would be the fresh chestnuts, but most recipes use ingredients that I could easily pick up at the local grocery store. Well, easily as long as the fruits are in season.

But hey, chocolate is always in season, so if you can't find the right apples or the perfect berries, you can just wander back to the chocolate chapter and swoon there for a while.

Recipes range from classic brownies and pound cake to more fancy creations like pistachio, quince, and kaymak macarons. If that kaymak sounds foreign, it is. It's a Turkish clotted cream, but the recipe notes that you can substitute mascarpone. See how easy that is?

This book isn't all desserts, by the way. There are breads as well.

And there are desserts that aren't baked, like the ice creams and other frozen treats. And there are drinks, candies, jams, and jellies as well.

This is a big book, with a lot to look at, a lot to ogle, and a lot to make. It would be a lovely gift for anyone you know who likes to bake, or a great addition to your own wish list. This one is definitely a keeper. Yup.