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Books That Cook: 'America's Hometown Recipe Book.' 'Eat Greens: Seasonal Recipes to Enjoy in Abundance,' 'Authentic Cuban Cuisine'

TITLE: America's Hometown Recipe Book: 712 Favorite Recipes from Main Street U.S.A. edited by Barbara Greenman (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishing, $19.95; 440 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Every cook will find something to like among the 700 recipes that range from veggies to fish to meat to sweets to breads. The recipes included are from home cooks, not celebrity or professional chefs, making them accessible to all skill levels and including easy-to-find ingredients.

FOR: The home cook looking for variety. There are plenty of familiar recipes but there also are some unusual ones to keep things interesting.

RECIPES: Triple cheese crab puff, summer squash squares, South Texas nachos, cream of carrot soup, apple-pork kebabs, stuffed Maui onion gratine, spinach bread, grilled biscuits, apple and artichoke chicken breasts, caramel nut sticky buns, lemon chiffon torte and fresh orange cake.

TITLE: Eat Greens: Seasonal Recipes to Enjoy in Abundance by Barbara Scott-Goodman and Liz Trovato (Wiley Publishing, $24.95; 328 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: One of my favorite things about this cookbook is that it is organized alphabetically starting with artichokes and ending with zucchini. In between you'll find recipes for vegetables and herbs, such as broccoli rabe, cucumbers, fennel, Swiss chard and more. A great cookbook if you participate in a local CSA, or community supported agriculture, group and receive random veggies regularly.

FOR: Cooks who enjoy fresh vegetables. This cookbook provides excellent instruction in cooking and selecting a wide variety of vegetables.

RECIPES: Swiss chard and cheese frittata, egg and watercress salad toasts, spinach, bacon and tomato salad, sauteed peas, kale and chorizo, wilted escarole and bacon, cucumber-mint raita, and pan-seared salmon with braised mixed greens.

TITLE: Authentic Cuban Cuisine by Martha Abreu Cortina (Pelican Publishing, $25; 303 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Author Martha Abreu Cortina is a native of Cuba who grew up watching her mother cook, and her life experiences give this book authenticity. The recipes have been collected from relatives and friends.

FOR: Lovers of Cuban food. If you have always wanted a good Cuban cookbook, this is it.

RECIPES: Seafood in Spanish wine sauce, roasted pork shoulder with Mojo marinade, Cuban-style roast pig, fried green plantain patties, mashed yellow plantains, chickpea stew, orange pudding, guava pie, stuffed bell peppers, white bean potage and meat pastries.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: Many of Cortina's recipes call for a pressure cooker. If you don't own one, not to worry; conventional cooking methods are included for all the recipes. Cortina uses the pressure cooker to cut cooking times.

NOTEWORTHY: The author includes an ingredient list in both Spanish and English. There is a Spanish index in addition to the English one.

Ellen Folkman's cookbook review column is published monthly in Taste.

>>easy

Summer Seafood Salad

3 pounds shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined

6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped green onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

Salt and pepper

Boston lettuce

Combine shrimp, eggs, lemon juice, lime juice, celery, onion, dill and pecans in a large bowl.

In separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream and Creole seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over shrimp mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled on a platter or on individual salad plates lined with Boston lettuce.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: America's Hometown Recipe Book: 712 Favorite Recipes from Main Street U.S.A. edited by Barbara Greenman (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishing, $19.95)

>>easy

Wilted Escarole and Bacon

1 large head (about 1 ½ pounds) escarole

2 slices thick cut bacon

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove any tough outer leaves and the core of the escarole. Separate the leaves and tear into 2-inch pieces. Wash well and dry thoroughly.

Cook the bacon until crisp in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until the garlic is softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the escarole and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle over the escarole. Serve at once.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Eat Greens: Seasonal Recipes to Enjoy in Abundance by Barbara Scott-Goodman and Liz Trovato (Wiley Publishing, $24.95)

>>moderate

Yellow Rice With Seafood

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, mashed

1 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned

2 lobster tails, cut into 3 sections each

½ pound scallops and/or squid, cut into rings

3 to 4 clams in their shells

5 to 6 oysters in their shells

½ pound firm white fish, such as grouper, cut into chunks

Black pepper to taste

¼ teaspoon cumin powder

Pinch red pepper, crushed

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup dry white wine

1 small can tomato paste (about 3 tablespoons)

1 can (7 ounces) sweet red pimentos, sliced, with liquid

1 small can (8 ounces) sweet peas

3 cups uncooked Valencia-style rice (short grain)

12 ounces beer (not dark)

5 ½ cups water

Generous pinch saffron or ½ teaspoon red food coloring

1 can white asparagus for decorating

Pressure cooker method:

Heat the oil in a large pressure cooker. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are transparent. Add the seafood and the fish. Continue to saute for 2 minutes while turning; add all the spices and salt. Add the white wine, tomato paste, sweet red pimentos and peas. Mix everything well. Add the rice, beer, water and saffron or red coloring. Stir. Cover the pressure cooker, wait for the pressure to build and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat. After 20 minutes, take the cooker to the sink and let cool water run over the cooker until the pressure is gone; the vent valve will go down. Open the cooker and serve immediately. Rice will be soupy, which is called a la chorrera. Decorate with white asparagus.

Conventional cooking method:

Use a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or large, deep skillet fitted with a good lid.

Start sauteing ingredients in the same order as the direction for pressure cooker over medium-high heat. After adding the rice and liquids, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes.

Serves 6.

Source: Authentic Cuban Cuisine by Martha Abreu Cortina (Pelican Publishing, $25)

Books That Cook: 'America's Hometown Recipe Book.' 'Eat Greens: Seasonal Recipes to Enjoy in Abundance,' 'Authentic Cuban Cuisine' 05/31/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 5:30am]

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