Make us your home page

Books That Cook: 'The Back in the Swing Cookbook,' 'Ten Dollar Dinners,' 'The Ultimate Student Cookook'

,Title: The Back in the Swing Cookbook: Recipes for Eating and Living Well Every Day After Breast Cancer by Barbara C. Unell and Judith Fertig (Andrews McMeel, $29.99, 288 pages)

Generally speaking: This is so much more than a cookbook. Among the recipes, you will find positive and inspiring words that will affect more than just breast cancer survivors. There are many highlighted boxes sprinkled throughout that are filled with words of inspiration to feed the soul.

For: Anyone, although it's geared toward breast cancer survivors. The recipes are not difficult to make but there are some recipes that call for ingredients you may or may not have in your pantry. Ingredients like agave nectar, organic dried lavender buds and white whole wheat flour. Sometimes you are able to substitute but not every recipe gives you that option. Read through the cookbook because some of the specialty ingredients may be more difficult to find than others.

Recipes: Retro broiled pink grapefruit, pomegranate sparkler, orange-cranberry chutney, roasted rosemary garbanzo snacks, wilted greens with warm cranberry vinaigrette, Oaxacan chicken in mole, Highway 1 meat loaf with power pilaf and baby greens, feel-good lasagna, island fish tacos with fresh pineapple salsa, veggie burger with roasted tomato, brambleberry crisp, poached cherries with honey cream and fresh mint, and banana, cinnamon and walnut Bundt cake.

,Title: Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week by Melissa d'Arabian (Clarkson Potter, $24.99, 368 pages)

Generally speaking: Melissa d'Arabian is the Season 5 winner of Food Network's reality show The Next Food Network Star. For those who aren't familiar with her, she makes budget-conscious meals. Ten Dollar Dinners offers recipes from a variety of cuisines sure to please an array of people. Find recipes for Italian, French and even comfort-food dishes in this book. In highlighted boxes scattered among the recipes, d'Arabian includes lots of great information about cooking and managing your money.

For: Budget-conscious cooks. The Food Network show of the same name offers complete meals for four for $10 or less, as long as you have a well-stocked pantry.

Recipes: Kielbasa and black-eyed peas, French-cut steak with caramelized onions, grilled two-cheese burgers with garlic dressing, chicken Marengo, chicken meatballs, garlicky shrimp with white bean gratin, chopped salad with chicken, salami and mozzarella, California-style bruschetta, Caprese tartlets, bulgur-stuffed veggies, lemon-ginger pudding, peanut butter-chocolate lava sundaes, scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms, potato-bacon torte, grilled tandoori pork kebabs and quinoa tabbouleh.

,Title: The Ultimate Student Cookbook: From Chicken to Chili by Tiffany Goodall (Firefly Books, $14.95, 160 pages)

Generally Speaking: What is so great about this cookbook is that every recipe has step-by-step photos that make it so easy for your student to prepare good meals while away at college. The recipes serve anywhere from one to 10, making them perfect for an evening alone, an evening with friends or just to have lots of leftovers.

For: Although this cookbook is designed with the college student in mind, any new cook would benefit from the simple recipes and photos. Parents be warned, there are recipes for cocktails and by that I'll clarify drinks with alcohol as well as some recipes that include wine. Worth noting if your student is under 21.

Recipes: One-pot chicken thighs, the classic baked potato with beans and chili, chicken, bacon and mushroom casserole, fragrant vegetable curry, Spanish omelet, hot and spicy pizza, chocolate mousse, low-calorie vegetable soup, gooey leek gratin, shepherd's pie, Tuscan baked chicken, vegetarian pasta heaven and fajitas.


Brambleberry Crisp

For the filling:

3 cups fresh or thawed frozen blackberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, and/or pitted sour cherries

¼ cup honey

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the topping:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or canola oil

¼ cup white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons honey

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 6-cup souffle dish or deep baking dish with a small amount of oil or butter.

For the filling: Combine the berries, honey, lemon juice, cornstarch, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir gently to blend. Spoon the filling into the prepared dish.

For the topping: Using the same bowl if you wish, combine the butter, oil, flour, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey and oats with a wooden spoon until well blended. Drop the mixture by spoonfuls on top of the filling.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until browned and bubbling. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To serve, spoon the warm crisp onto dessert plates and top with frozen yogurt, if you like.

Serves 6.


Carprese Tartlets

8 slices white bread, crusts removed

¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus 8 leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Ground black pepper

2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced, crosswise

4 ounces mozzarella, sliced into 8 small pieces

Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling (optional)

Fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the bread on a cutting board and use a rolling pin or the underside of a large spoon to flatten the bread slices until they are very thin and almost doughy. Brush both sides of the bread with the olive oil and press the slices into the cups of a muffin tin to form shells. Set aside.

Stir together the cream cheese, garlic powder, 2 teaspoons chopped basil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper until smooth. Divide the cream cheese mixture among the bottoms of the bread cups and bake until the tartlets are golden and crusty, 12-13 minutes. Remove the muffin tin from the oven and set aside to cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan (use your fingers) and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Place the tomato slices on a large plate and season with a few generous pinches of salt. Set 1 slice mozzarella in each bread cup and then cover with 1 or 2 slices tomato. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (if using) and finish with ribbons of fresh basil.

Serves 4.


Vegetarian Pasta Heaven

1 eggplant, chopped roughly

3 leeks, sliced

4 red onions, quartered

5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped, roughly

6 tomatoes, quartered

2 sprigs of rosemary, thyme or sage

2 ¼ pounds penne pasta

5 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

Scant ½ cup butter

18 ounces mascarpone

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the eggplant, leeks and red onions in a large roasting tray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Mix well and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes and herbs to the partly cooked vegetables. Mix well, season with salt and pepper and add another tablespoon of olive oil if it looks a little dry. Return the roasting tray to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the pasta and simmer for 10 minutes or according to package directions.

Mix together the parsley, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic to make a gorgeous pesto-type sauce. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Stir in the butter. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and tip them onto the pasta. Stir in the pesto type sauce and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the mascarpone. It should be sensational — creamy, garlicky and yet full of good nutrition with the roasted vegetables.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Books That Cook: 'The Back in the Swing Cookbook,' 'Ten Dollar Dinners,' 'The Ultimate Student Cookook' 09/18/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 2:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours