Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cookbook Thursday: Holiday gift ideas!

            We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again, books make great holiday gifts. They last forever, bring hours of escape or entertainment and actually increase a person’s IQ.
            Here are some fun cookbooks to consider:
            Cooking Light magazine offers two great cookbooks that are as delightful to read as they are informative for the chef. Dietician and food writer Sally Kuzemchak is a mom raising two young boys so you know her recipes will be brief on ingredients and big on taste. Her latest is “Dinnertime Survival Guide” for those needing to serve up healthy family dinners in a short amount of time. (Her recipe below is from her web site, a little longer than most but quite tasty.) New York Times best-selling author David Joachim shows readers how to create global dishes with little education in “Global Kitchen: The World’s Most Delicious Food Made Easy.” He has a recipe below as well.
            One of the most interesting books I’ve come across all year is “Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat” by Ellen Zachos. The book reads like an encyclopedia of common plants good enough to eat, many of which — such as ginko fruit, acorns, daylilies and dandelions — are sitting right outside your window.
            “Orange is the New Black Presents The Cookbook,” based on the popular Netflix TV show about a woman’s prison, is more entertainment than serious cooking although the 65 recipes seem real enough, just accented by fun names such as Crack Almonds. The sidebars, photos from the show and prison factoids really round out the book. Once you’ve foraged for dandelions, you can create the Crazy Eye’s Dandelion Salad. If you’re wondering about the reference, ask a fan of the show to explain.

T-Riffic Tilapia Tacos
From “Dinnertime Survival Guide”
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
Spice Mixture:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups angel hair slaw
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
            Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Cover and chill. Combine cumin and next 5 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a small bowl; sprinkle spice mixture over both sides of fillets. Place fillets on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 9 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Cool slightly. Place fish in a large bowl; break into pieces with 2 forks. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates. Arrange 1/2 cup slaw on each tortilla. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; Top each serving with 1/4 cup tomato, 2 tablespoons red onion, 1 tablespoon green onions and about 3 tablespoons lime crema. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

From “Global Kitchen”
Cooking spray
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces cake flour (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup 2 percent reduced-fat milk
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups reduced-fat unsweetened finely shredded dehydrated coconut
             Direction: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9-inch square metal baking pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with parchment paper, allowing parchment paper to extend over edge of pan.
            Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Place egg yolks and remaining 6 tablespoons granulated sugar in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until thick and pale (about 3 minutes).
            Beat in vanilla. Gently fold egg yolk mixture into egg white mixture. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; sift mixture over egg mixture, 1/3 cup at a time; fold in. Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
            Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove cake from pan, using parchment paper sides as handles. Cool completely on a wire rack (with parchment paper in place). Wrap cake and parchment paper in plastic wrap; chill 2 hours.
Remove plastic wrap from cake; place cake (with parchment paper in place) on a cutting board. Cut cake into 16 squares, using a serrated knife.
            Combine milk and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until chocolate melts. Remove from heat; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add cocoa and powdered sugar, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
Place coconut in a medium bowl. Dip cake squares, 1 at a time, into melted chocolate mixture, using 2 forks to gently turn the cake to coat; scrape off excess chocolate on side of pan. Place chocolate-coated cake in coconut, using 2 forks to gently turn the cake to coat.

            Place lamingtons on wire rack; let stand 15 minutes or until chocolate is set. Serves 16 (serving size: 1 cake).

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at