Books That Cook: 'MasterChef,' 'Earth-Bound Cook,' 'New American Heart Association Cookbook' and their recipes

Title: MasterChef Cookbook (Rodale, 260 pages, $24.99)

Generally speaking: The recipes included in this cookbook are mainly from the contestants of the Fox show MasterChef with a few from the judges. Though many of the recipes look delicious, most are very involved with numerous steps and expensive ingredients. For example, contestant Whitney Miller's stuffed chicken Parmesan with roasted cherry tomato sauce requires you to make the sauce, the filling and the chicken Parmesan. There's no doubt that this recipe is good, but you will be in the kitchen most of the day making it. Expensive ingredients include saffron, lobster, beef tenderloin and veal.

For: Fans of MasterChef and anyone looking for gourmet recipes. These recipes are for a more experienced home cook who knows how to manage time in the kitchen so all parts of the recipe are finished together. With many of these recipes, time management is key.

Recipes: Catfish acadiana with creamy shrimp butter sauce; seared mahi mahi with haricots verts; oven-roasted tomatoes and kalamata olive puree; Route 66 slaw burger; beef tenderloin with port-plum sauce and shrimp with passion fruit glaze; banana pudding Napoleon; vanilla creme brulee with vanilla, orange and mango coulis; Chinese egg rolls with sweet and sour Mandarin sauce.

Title: The Earth-Bound Cook: 250 Recipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet by Myra Goodman (Workman, 462 pages, $20.95)

Generally speaking: This collection of recipes promotes cooking with sustainable ingredients to make wholesome foods. Goodman encourages the use of locally grown ingredients.

For: Any household. There are recipes in this cookbook that will appeal to just about everyone.

Recipes: Wild rice and shiitake salad; coconut-crusted salmon; seared tuna with French lentil salad; roasted cauliflower tart; vegetarian three-bean chili, homemade veggie burgers; herbed rib roast of pork; Bistro 211 Cobb salad; mini calzones; fried brown rice; baked apples three ways; whole wheat pecan pancakes with pecan maple syrup.

Title: The New American Heart Association Cookbook by the American Heart Association (Clarkson Potter, 698 pages, $35)

Generally speaking: The eighth edition of this popular cookbook is updated and includes more than 150 new recipes. All recipes have nutritional information. It would be helpful if the new ones had a note saying they were new. These recipes show that a healthful diet can be flavorful. There is a lot of variety.

For: Anyone looking to improve their eating habits, not just people with heart disease.

Recipes: Sesame-peanut pasta; barley risotto with mushrooms and asparagus; Italian vegetable bake; Mediterranean lima beans; Tex-Mex lasagna; steak marinated in beer and green onions; five-spice turkey medallions; crisp pan-seared trout with green onions; tangy carrots; apple dressing; walnut bread; peachy stuffed French toast; Southern raised biscuits.

>>easy

Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe

and Italian Sausage

1 pound broccoli rabe, stems trimmed

1 pound orecchiette pasta

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 sweet Italian sausages, cut on the bias into ½-inch slices

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and cook for 4 minutes or until the spears are slightly tender and bright green. Don't overcook. Use tongs to transfer the rabe to the bowl of ice water. When chilled, remove rabe from water bath and chop into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.

Return the pot of salted water to a boil. Add orecchiette and stir. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Coat a large skillet with the oil and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage. Cook and stir for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the sausage is browned and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl and set aside.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan, stirring for 30 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the reserved broccoli rabe, season with salt and pepper and stir for 1 minute.

Add the sausage back to the pan, along with the orecchiette. Toss to evenly distribute the ingredients, adding reserved cooking liquid if the pasta seems too dry. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Source: MasterChef Cookbook

>>easy

Roasted Butternut, Fennel and Cranberries

3 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice (about 6 cups)

3 large fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, cored and cut into ½ inch dice, fronds reserved

3 crisp apples, such as Fuji or Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch dice

¾ cup dried cranberries, preferably organic

½ cup finely minced pancetta (optional)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped reserved fennel fronds

Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the squash, fennel, apples, cranberries and pancetta, if using, on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the olive oil and maple syrup in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the oil mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat. Add the thyme and chopped fennel fronds and season with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture out. Do not crowd the vegetables, as this will cause them to steam rather than brown (use two pans or cook in batches if necessary).

Roast the vegetables until they are lightly caramelized and tender, 30 to 45 minutes. As they are roasting, shake the baking sheet or stir the vegetables occasionally so they develop a crust on each side.

Transfer the vegetables to a warm platter and serve immediately.

Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days. Reheat over low heat or in the microwave before serving.

Serves 8 to 10.

Source: The Earth-Bound Cook:

250 Recipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet

>>easy

Caribbean Grilled Chicken Breasts

Marinade:

2/3 cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon red hot pepper sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, all visible fat discarded

2 slightly underripe bananas, halved lengthwise and crosswise (8 pieces total)

In a large, shallow glass dish, stir together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 12 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the grill on medium.

Remove the chicken from the marinade. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes.

Brush the bananas generously with the marinade. Grill the chicken and bananas for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, turning over halfway through. Brush the chicken and bananas with the reserved marinade before serving.

Serves 4.

Source: The New American Heart Association Cookbook

Books That Cook: 'MasterChef,' 'Earth-Bound Cook,' 'New American Heart Association Cookbook' and their recipes 10/12/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 9:00am]

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