Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Get cooking with these wonderful new titles

             There are plenty of wonderful new cookbooks on the market these days.
             Chef Peter Sclafani, owner and chef for Ruffino’s Restaurant of Baton Rouge and Lafayette, has just published a cookbook with nearly 70 of his favorite recipes titled “Seasons of Louisiana.” The book is categorized by the culinary seasons of Louisiana, including shrimp, hunting, tailgating and the holidays, with the foreword written by Chef John Folse. “Seasons of Louisiana” is available for purchase at both Ruffino’s locations, online at www.shopruffinos.com and Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge, in addition to shops in Baton Rouge.
            Tom Bailey, editor for Seacoast Publishing, celebrates the Gulf South, from Tampa Bay to Mexico and all points in between in “The Complete Guide to Northern Gulf Seafood” from Pelican Publishing of New Orleans. In addition to the numerous recipes complemented by the lovely photography of Celeste Ward, the book explains what types of fish frequent the Gulf of Mexico and how to select, prepare, serve and store the best fish.
            Linda Hundt’s “Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life” cookbook is a sugary sweet experience, a book that offers delectable recipes and fun photography by Clarissa Westmeyer to coincide with its happy title. Chapters include “Kindness,” “Love” and “Faith,” for instance, and anecdotes tell of the author’s home in DeWitt, Michigan, along with stories and photos of her family. It’s appropo that a pie book would be this warm and fuzzy, and how can you not be happy when indulging in “Aunt Ruby’s Beautiful Butterscotch Praline Pie”?
            Cookbook and food offerings are rather slim for the vegan, especially if you live in Acadiana. Julie Hasson, who’s also authored a pie cookbook, features 50 recipes for dairy-free, meat-free, thin crust artisan pizzas in “Vegan Pizza.” If you think giving up meat means losing taste, think again. There’s Thai peanut, pineapple and jalapeno and cowboy pizza with barbecue sauce, vegan cheese and other goodies.
            Don’t serve ordinary cocktails this New Year’s, spruce them up with infused flavors such as pumpkin spice, blue lavender and brown sugar pecan, all great ideas derived from “Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits” by Andrew Schloss. The book is chock full of wonderful recipes — 159 flavors, 80 cocktails and several simple syrups — with easy instruction on how to create and present them. To give you an idea of the process, the apple spice hooch recipe calls for mixing bourbon, apples, maple syrup and spices together to sit for a week in a cool, dark place. Once strained, the liqueur is ready to be enjoyed, tasting like an apple pie.
            Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl once called Portland, Ore., “the crucible of New American cooking.” I keep thinking of that “Portlandia” episode where the dining couple continually demands to know where the chicken originated (“Is the Chicken Local?”). You can get a taste of the Portland food scene — from small batch coffee roasters to gourmet food trucks — without leaving your table with Karen Brooks’ “The Mighty Gastropolis Portland: A Journey Through the Center of America’s New Food Revolution,” written with Gideon Bosker and Teri Gelber.

Book events
            Johnette Downing, author of “How to Dress a Po-Boy,” will be performing at the Jazz Historical National Park Visitor’s Center from 11 a.m. to noon Friday at the French Market’s Dutch Alley, between Decatur and the River in New Orleans. She will also sign books from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 3, at A Tisket A Tasket Book Shop, 910 Decatur St. in the French Market.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” both from The History Press, and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.