Cookbooks make the perfect gift for the foodies in your life . Last week I shared some ideas and here are some more to consider; you might even find one or two for your own cookbook shelf — or, if you are like me, shelves.
The title “Cooking with Scraps: Turn your Peels, Cores, Rinds and Stems into Delicious Meals,” by Lindsay-Jean Hard (2018, Workman Publishing, $19.95), caught my eye. Professional chefs are experts in creatively using most parts of vegetables (including the peel, core and, sometimes, even the pits), fish, meat (including the bones), and leftovers in their recipes. Don’t forget, the financial success of a restaurant is dependent upon having as little waste as possible, among other cost-saving initiatives. Home cooks, on the other hand, are perhaps not as prudent in this endeavor. However, this is slowly changing. The statistic are grim: Americans currently produce 133 billion pounds of food waste every year and 40 percent of food goes uneaten. The author provides recipes to help home cooks meet the USDA’s goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. She said, “What lies unused in one’s fridge or pantry is not a purposeless object destined for the waste bin!” Her recipes for unused parts are simple and are organized by ingredient, from apples to zucchini. For example, apples: dried apple peel chips; asparagus: charred asparagus end pesto; bananas: banana peel cake with brown sugar frosting; cheese: brothy beans with roasted garlic and parmesan rind. The recipient of this book will find that is good for their wallet, the earth and dinner plate.
Both adults and kids will have fun with dozens of creative twists on the classic desserts in “The Peppermint Bark Cookbook: Over 75 Recipes for Delicious Homemade Treats, from Milkshakes to Cheesecakes,” by Dominique Devito (2016, Cider Mill Press, $25.95). Pick up a copy for you, too, so you can to make sweet last-minute gifts. There are many recipes for peppermint bark itself, including gluten-free. What I found intriguing are the ways to incorporate bark into other tasty treats; recipes like peppermint bark chocolatinis, brownies, creamy no-bake cheesecake with chocolate bark crust and barky brulee. Check out the author’s recipe for Hanukkah Bark.
The headnote says, “This beautiful white and blue bark celebrates the colors associated with the Jewish Season of Lights, but it’s a striking — and delicious — combination any time.”
Line a cookie or baking sheet with parchment paper. In a strong plastic bag, use a hammer or meat pounder to break the candy into shards. Put the pieces in a bowl and set aside. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, or in a bowl or saucepan set over simmering water. Alternately, put the chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in 20- to 30-second increments, stirring after each one, until chocolate is just melted. You want to melt the chocolate slowly. When melted, stir in the vegetable oil and white chocolate liqueur, incorporating thoroughly.
Pour the chocolate onto the cookie sheet and use a spatula to spread it as evenly as possible over the parchment paper. Sprinkle the peppermint candy pieces evenly over the chocolate, pressing it in lightly in places.
Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until set. Lift from the parchment and break into pieces. Refrigerate the bark until ready to eat. Makes about 2 dozen pieces.
Who doesn’t love pasta? It’s comforting, inexpensive, easy to prepare and is a blank canvas for endless dishes. “The Ultimate Pasta & Noodle Cookbook,” by Serena Cosmo (2017, Cider Mill Press, $39.95) details the origins and uses of nearly 350 types of pasta and noodles from around the world. The illustrations as well as mouth-watering food photography creates a stunning presentation of pasta in all of its forms, shapes, and decadent preparations. I found the details about the origin, description and how to serve each pasta and noodle helpful and most interesting. Encyclopedic in scope, this 800-page book extends its reach far beyond spaghetti and meatballs. With more than 300 recipes, Cosmo has curated a plethora of clever creations like herbed couscous pilaf with cranberries and pine nuts, savory squid ink frittata, lo mein noodles with mushrooms and snow peas, and even cheesy chocolate gnocchi. In addition to each recipe, the extensive headnotes bring more life into each dish. Easy-to-follow instructions for making pasta from scratch, chapters on recipes for sauces and even pasta and noodle desserts round out this title. There are dozens of recipes for gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan variations that teach how to create noodles from nontraditional ingredients like corn, rice, potato, or even spiralized vegetables. This is one book pasta lovers will want on their shelf.
Movie buffs and foodies alike will enjoy “Eat What You Watch: A Cookbook for Movie Lovers,” by Andrew Rea (2019, Dovetail, $25). This is one of the most unique cookbooks I have read. Rea writes in the introduction, “Food in movies and television plays just as vital and important a role as any of the human characters. It gets a styling of its own and is crucial in bringing stories together. Food and movies are both sources of diversion, comfort and togetherness, and they constantly inspire one another.” Think: the deli fare from “When Harry Met Sally” (this one is special to me since my long-gone maternal grandparent’s names were Harry and Sally!), or the sweets from “Chocolat,” or the beef Bourguignon from “Julie & Julia.” This book will bring fiction to life for the recipient, as they prepare the recipes showcasing the best roles food has ever played on film.
Have you noticed beautifully presented salad, grain and acai bowls served in health-focused restaurants and juice bars? It seems to be growing in popularity as more restaurants put them on their menus. A copy of “Bowls: Vibrant Recipes with Endless Possibilities,” by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen (2020, America’s Test Kitchen, $27.99) will enable those on your gift list to create flexible healthy and customizable make-ahead meals. The chapters are organized by base (greens, grains and beans, noodles and broths). The authors’s “Anatomy of a bowl” is the foundation for all of the recipes. It is recommended that the most texturally interesting bowls have elements from each of the categories; base, protein, vegetable, sauce, crunch. There are no rules, however America’s Test Kitchen prefers a bowl with an equal ratio of base to toppings to ensure that the base doesn’t get lost and the toppings aren’t overpowering. I found the customize-it side notes for each recipe helpful for easy ways to simply recipes by swapping in what you have on hand, plus options to kick things up a notch with some extras. The calorie count and information on how to store, pack and serve bowls comes in handy, too. And, those beautiful photos are inspiring, as are America’s Test Kitchen signature headnotes “Why this Recipe Works.” The recipient will think of you every time they take out their bowl for lunch at work, and eat their healthy, stress-free weeknight meals. Recipes include Steak Fajita Salad Bowl, Green Goodness Salad Bowl (for this recipe, visit https://bit.ly/2EcR1WD), Shakshuka Bowl and this recipe for Winter Salad Bowl.
Calories per Serving: 410
Why This Recipe Works: Nothing beats comfort food in the middle of winter, but after a while it starts to weigh you down. This bowl highlights the roasted, robust side of vegetable salads and is sure to leave you satisfied on even the coldest day. Butternut squash’s sweet, creamy interior and fennel’s anise-like, satisfying crunch made the perfect duo, and Italian turkey sausage provided a meaty boost and complementary sweetness. To keep the cooking straightforward, we roasted the vegetables and sausage together on a preheated sheet pan, removing the sausage first while the vegetables continued cooking until tender and caramelized. For a base, we liked the idea of earthy kale, but raw kale can be tough on your jaw. Fortunately, a quick soak in hot water softened its bite. Our sweet-tart Pomegranate-Honey Vinaigrette accented the flavor of the squash and sausage. It’s important to use very hot water (110-115 degrees) when soaking the kale or the leaves will be tough.
Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss squash, fennel, oil, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, and pepper together in bowl. Remove sheet from oven, place sausage on 1 side of sheet, and spread vegetables in single layer next to sausage. Roast until sausage is spotty brown and registers 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer sausage to cutting board; set aside.
Stir vegetables on sheet and continue to roast until tender and spotty brown, 5-10 minutes. Once sausage has cooled slightly, slice 1/2-inch thick on bias.
While vegetables finish cooking, place kale in bowl, cover with hot tap water, and let sit for 10 minutes. Swish kale around to remove grit, then drain and spin dry in salad spinner. Pat leaves dry with paper towels if still wet.
Toss kale with half of vinaigrette to coat, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among individual serving bowls, then top with roasted vegetable mixture and sausage. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve. Serves 2.
This vinaigrette perfectly pairs sweet and tart. To avoid off-flavors, make sure to reduce the fruit juice in a nonreactive stainless-steel saucepan.
Bring pomegranate juice and honey to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook until thickened and juice measures about 2/3 cup, 15-20 minutes. Transfer syrup to medium bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, oil, shallot, salt, and pepper until combined. (Vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; whisk to recombine before using.) Makes about 1 cup.
No foodie will want to be without a copy of “Wit and Wisdom From the Kitchen: A Lifetime of Cooking Knowledge, Passed Down From Generations of Food Lovers,” by Dominique DeVito (2016, Cider Mill Press, $16.95). The book is a celebration of all of the ways the kitchen permeates our lives. In addition to thought-provoking quotes about food, DeVito shares recipes that come from her own time spent in the kitchen. “Laughter is brightest in the place where food is.” — an Irish Proverb.
Consiglio’s Mystery Dinner Party: “20/20 Vision” Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, 9:30 p.m. Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489, $75 includes dinner and show, and Champagne toast at midnight (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on throughout the evening during a 3-course meal. Cast mingles table to table, dropping clues for a mystery only you can solve. What’s going to happen if something happens in the New Year? These ladies have predicted the future and are sharing the news to compete as psychic of the year. Menu at https://bit.ly/32gXryX.