Books That Cook: 'Tea & Crumpets,' 'Down Home With the Neelys,' 'Memorable Recipes'

TITLE: Tea & Crumpets, Recipes & Rituals from European Tearooms & Cafes by Margaret M. Johnson (Chronicle Books, 19.95)

Generally speaking: These are not your grandmother's tea party recipes; Tea & Crumpets takes afternoon tea to the next level. While perusing the recipes, enjoy interesting tidbits about such topics as the Twinings tea company, the difference between afternoon tea and high tea and famous tea rooms.

For: You'd think this cookbook would be primarily for tea lovers. Not so. There are interesting recipes that, yes, while delicious with tea, would be well suited to other gatherings. Think sandwich, cake and cookies recipes for a baby or bridal shower.

Recipes: Leek and Stilton tartlets, poached lobster with mini molten cheese souffles, Earl Grey chocolate mousse, extreme biscuit brownie, raisin apple scones, petite blueberry cakes and crumpets.

TITLE: Down Home With the Neelys, A Southern Family Cookbook by Patrick and Gina Neely with Paula Disbrowe (Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95)

Generally speaking: The recipes are mouth-watering and the photos make you hungry. Food Network stars Pat and Gina Neely know Southern cooking. The Neelys are famous for barbecue, but this cookbook is more than barbecue. Inside you'll find recipes for delicious side dishes, starters, desserts and libations.

For: It would make sense that you'd have to love barbecue to enjoy this cookbook. The sides, desserts and others recipes have more wide appeal.

Recipes: Momma Daisy's buttermilk biscuits, fried catfish sandwich with sweet pickle mayonnaise, Memphis-style tips with beer and molasses, boozy baked apples, Nana's caramel pecan rolls, fresh peach sangria.

TITLE: Memorable Recipes To Share With Family and Friends by Renee Behnke with Cynthia Nims (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35)

Generally Speaking: These upscale recipes are for special occasions, not your everyday weeknight suppers. Many recipes have long ingredient lists (some of which are expensive or not often used) and involved instructions. While some recipes will appeal to the masses, many will not.

For: Adventurous cooks who have time to search for unusual ingredients like zucchini blossoms and nasturtium blossoms. Often unusual translates to expensive.

Recipes: Cheese-stuffed zucchini blossoms, sesame-crusted tuna with soy mustard sauce, herb-rubbed lamb chops with raita, white bean and watercress gratin, garlic and herb baked artichokes, ginger cake with lemon glaze, zucchini fritters.

>>easy

Chicken Sandwiches With

Lemon-Tarragon Mayonnaise

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

12 slices white bread, crusts removed

6 slices cooked chicken

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Handful of baby greens

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest and tarragon. Spread the mayonnaise mixture on one side of each of 6 slices of the bread. Arrange the slices of chicken on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and top with the baby greens. Cover with the remaining slices of bread. Press firmly and cut each sandwich in half crosswise. Cover with a damp tea towel or paper towels until ready to serve.

Makes 12 sandwiches.

Source: Tea & Crumpets, Recipes & Rituals from European Tearooms & Cafes by Margaret M. Johnson (Chronicle Books, 19.95)

>>EASy

Broccoli Cheddar Cornbread

½ cup unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed but not drained

2 (8 ½-ounce) boxes corn bread mix

½ cup whole milk

1 (8-ounce) container cottage cheese

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated sharp cheddar cheese, for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and broccoli to the skillet and saute for 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the broccoli has warmed through. In a medium bowl, stir together the corn bread mix, milk, cottage cheese, eggs, salt and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese until smooth, then pour the batter into the skillet over the vegetables and stir to blend. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining cheese. Bake the corn bread in the skilled for about 30 minutes, until it is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Down Home With the Neelys, A Southern Family Cookbook by Patrick and Gina Neely (Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95)

>>EASy

Fresh Summer Tomato and Crab Pasta

3 cups diced fresh tomatoes

¾ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons minced shallots

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

12 ounces dry fettuccine

¾ to 1 pound fresh crab meat

1 ¼ cups chopped green onions

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, optional

Drain the tomatoes in a medium sieve over a bowl for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Excess water from the tomatoes can dilute the flavor of the dish.)

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet or small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook gently for 3 to 5 minutes, until the oil is aromatic but the shallot and garlic are not browned. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the fettuccine and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, rewarm the oil mixture over medium heat. Add the crab, green onions and thyme and cook gently for about 5 minutes, until the crab is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta well and return to the empty pot. Add the drained tomatoes, stir to mix, then add the crab mixture, lemon juice and red pepper flakes and toss well. Serve in warmed pasta plates or shallow bowls.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Memorable Recipes To Share With Family and Friends by Renee Behnke with Cynthia Nims (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35)

Books That Cook: 'Tea & Crumpets,' 'Down Home With the Neelys,' 'Memorable Recipes' 06/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 12:12pm]

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