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Books That Cook: '300 Sensational Soups,' 'Simple Italian Snacks,' 'The Ski Country Cookbook'

TITLE: 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds (Robert Rose, $24.95; 384 pages)

Generally speaking: This is a thorough guide for homemade soups. Very little, if any, convenience products are used in these recipes. Oh, there may be a can of crushed tomatoes or a teaspoon of dried herbs there, but every other ingredient is fresh. There are even recipes for croutons and other garnishes to go along with some soups. Don't let the prep work scare you away. This book include recipes appropriate for all skill levels.

For: Soup lovers who may be in a rut. They will find plenty here to augment their regular repertoire. Try some of the dessert soups, too.

Recipes: Pumpkin soup with ham and Swiss chard, roasted summer vegetable soup, Sicilian fish soup, farmhouse-fresh chicken soup, sausage stuffed pepper soup, curried Indian dal soup, cream of broccoli soup with bacon bits, lamb and lentil soup, chicken soup with tomatoes, wine and orange, black-berry and white chocolate soup, and chilled minted melon soup.

TITLE: Simple Italian Snacks: More Recipes From America's Favorite Panini Bar by Jason Denton and Kathryn Kellinger (William Morrow, $23.95; 184 pages)

Generally speaking: Co-author Jason Denton has joined the small-bite bandwagon, believing the days of huge family meals are on the way out. But we think Simple Italian Snacks offers 80 recipes that are suited to entertaining than a meal. Panini may be the exception.

For: Foodies and adventurous cooks. These recipes are reminiscent of the food you might find in metropolitan areas such as New York or San Francisco.

Recipes: Taleggio, apple and pistachio panini, almond orange biscotti, chickpea and black olive bruschetta, shrimp panini with pickled red peppers and lemon mayonnaise, orange scented olives, radicchio and cremini salad, warm salad of butternut squash, and eggs baked in tomato sauce.

TITLE: The Ski Country Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman (Robert Rose, $24.95; 256 pages)

Generally speaking: You don't have to be a skier to enjoy this cookbook, but these are hearty, warming recipes. Many of the recipes require a lot of preparation in the form of chopping, which is something that can be done in advance. There are recipes for all skill levels and, because it's such a busy time right now, you can find some that are quicker to prepare after a long day.

For: Anyone looking for hearty, cold-weather recipes. They are even good for the cold we get around here. Just perusing these recipes warms you up.

Recipes: Brandied mocha coffee, creamy macaroni and cheese, baked penne with sausage and cheese, oven-braised pork roast, turkey and vegetable meat loaf, cider-braised chicken and vegetables, mushroom barley soup, grilled goat cheese and pesto mini-sandwiches, and cornmeal pancakes with fresh blueberry sauce.

Ellen Folkman's cookbook review column appears monthly.

>>MODERATE

Chicken Soup With Tomatoes,

Wine and Oranges

¼ cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 large carrots, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds cut into 8 pieces, OR 3 pounds skinless chicken thighs

1 bay leaf

1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice

4 cups chicken stock

1 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Pinch cayenne pepper

Grated zest of 1 orange

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup hot, cooked long-grain white rice

¼ cups minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add carrots, celery and thyme; saute until vegetables start to soften, about 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook until starting to brown, about 3 minutes.

Add bay leaf, tomatoes with juice, stock and wine; bring to a simmer. Partially cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, about 45 minutes. Skim the soup if any scum develops on the surface.

Using tongs, transfer chicken to a large plate and let cool slightly. Remove skin and bones and discard. Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Return chicken to the pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in vinegar, cayenne, orange zest and salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf.

Divide rice among heated bowls and top with soup. Garnish with parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds (Robert Rose, $24.95; 384 pages)

>>MODERATE

Red Beet Salad With Pistachios

½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios

4 medium red beets, well rinsed, tops cut off

4 teaspoons plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 blood oranges, cut into segments over a bowl, juice reserved

4 cups arugula, loosely packed, rinsed and spun dry

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 chunk of Pecorino Romano

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread the pistachios on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until they are lightly colored and fragrant, about 4 minutes, shaking the pan midway through. Remove from sheet and set aside to cool.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Rub each beet with a teaspoon of olive oil. Place each beet on a square of aluminum foil, season with sea salt and black pepper, and then wrap it up in the foil. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 40 minutes. (The tip of a knife should easily pierce the beet.) Remove from oven, unwrap and let cool.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into ½-inch dice. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the diced beets, the orange segments and the arugula.

Make a vinaigrette by combining the reserved orange juice with the red wine vinegar and ¼ cup olive oil. Dress the salad and toss gently. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Divide salad among four bowls. Sprinkle salads with toasted pistachios and a generous grating of Pecorino Romano before serving.

Serves 4.

Source: Simple Italian Snacks: More Recipes From America's Favorite Panini Bar by Jason Denton and Kathryn Kellinger (William Morrow, $23.95; 184 pages)

>>EASY

Warm Rum Raisin Cider

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon sugar

½ cup golden raisins

6 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

6 cups (48 ounces) apple cider

12 ounces dark rum

Apple slices for garnish

Cinnamon sticks for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar, raisins, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the cider and heat, stirring, until the mixture just begins to simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in the rum and

ladle into cups. Garnish each drink with apple slices and a cinnamon stick and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: The Ski Country Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman (Robert Rose, $24.95; 256 pages)

Books That Cook: '300 Sensational Soups,' 'Simple Italian Snacks,' 'The Ski Country Cookbook' 12/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 11:40am]

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