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Books That Cook: 'Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking,' 'Haute Potato' and 'Open Range'

TITLE: Haute Potato by Jacqueline Pham (Adams Media, 2013; $18.95)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: If you or a cook you know loves spuds, this single-topic cookbook is a good buy. It's billed as a gourmet cookbook with 75 recipes that run the gamut of cuisines from French to Greek, with some Irish, Indian, Latin American and standard USA specialties thrown in. French techniques are prevalent and the recipes have many steps and often ask for ingredients that new cooks won't be familiar with. This is a book for experienced cooks. Even though potatoes are served mostly as a side dish, the effort needed for these recipes transform them into the main event. Plan on making one of the recipes and serve with a simply grilled or baked protein. Many of them are meals in themselves.

FOR: Potato lovers with kitchen skills and vegetarians who don't mind a cookbook with some meaty recipes, too.

RECIPES: Traditional Samosas, parsley and walnut pesto roasted potatoes, spinach gnocchi lasagna, sweet potato brioche, hasselback potatoes with sauce verte, sweet mashed potatoes with maple syrup roasted bananas.

Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor

TITLE: Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish and Sesame by Cyble Pascal (Ten Speed Press, 2012; $22)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: If you have a family member or friend with food allergies, this cookbook is worth a look. While some of the ingredients may be foreign to those without food sensitivities, if you cook this way regularly you will know exactly where to find them. There is a great variety — really more than anyone without food allergies would ever imagine.

FOR: Those with food allergies and/or people who cook for them.

RECIPES: Beef and broccoli stir-fry, pasta salad, chipotle turkey chili, chicken fried rice, portobello shepherd's pie, mu shu pork, homemade gnocchi, pulled barbecue chicken sandwiches with classic coleslaw, black bean and cheese quesadillas with roasted green chiles.

Ellen Folkman, Times correspondent

TITLE: Open Range: Steaks, Chops & More from Big Sky Country by Jay Bentley and Patrick Dillon (Running Press, 2012; $32.50)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: This is one of those cookbooks for which you need to bring your appetite. While there are recipes for sides and such, this cookbook is really all about beef, lamb, bison, pork and more. There are many color photos of recipes but the great photography is in the scenes of Big Sky country. The food photos are mouth-watering and will make you hungry.

FOR: Hearty eaters. These are big, filling and hearty recipes. Adventurous eaters and hunters will enjoy this book too because of the recipes for venison, elk, wild goose and more.

RECIPES: Sheepherder-style smashed garlic chicken, Andouille and cranberry corn bread stuffing, baked brown rice, leftover roast beef hash, rack of lamb with Dijon herb crust, chuck wagon chili, slow-cooked pork shoulder with pomegranate molasses rub.

Ellen Folkman, Times correspondent

>>MODERATE

Chicken and Sausage Paella

1 cup long-grain basmati rice

2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

1 pound chicken tenders, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

½ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped yellow onion

8 ounces chorizo, Andouille, linguica or kielbasa, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds

1 red bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

¼ teaspoon saffron, crushed

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

¾ cup frozen peas

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

Combine the rice with 1 ½ cups of the chicken broth in a microwave-safe container. Cover and microwave for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken tenders with the paprika and some salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until starting to shimmer. Add the chicken broth and cook for 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the onion and sausage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the bell pepper, garlic, saffron, oregano and ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring for 2 minutes more. Add the remaining cup of chicken broth, bring to a boil and deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits along the bottom, 1 minute or so. Stir in the tomatoes, partly cooked rice and chicken, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and cook, loosely covered, for 8 minutes more or until the liquid is absorbed. Add the peas and heat through for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss with the parsley and serve hot, sprinkled with more parsley.

Serves 6.

Source: Allegry-Free and Easy Cooking by Cyble Pascal (Ten Speed Press, 2012)

>>EASY

Monster Sirloin

2 cups olive oil

3 tablespoons granulated garlic

Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 whole lemon

3 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 (3-pound) center cut sirloin steak, 1 ¾ inches thick

Mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt in a large lidded container. Add the steak and turn to coat both sides. Cover and marinate for 24 to 48 hours, turning occasionally.

When you are ready to prepare the steak, preheat your gas grill on the highest setting for 20 minutes. If you are using charcoal, use plenty of it and wait for the coals to give off a very hot molten glow.

Cook the meat as close to the fire as possible, allowing some of the fire to char the outside of the steak. Do not allow the meat to burn, as it will impart a bitter taste. After the crust had been formed on the presentation side, flip the meat and move it to a more indirect location on the side of your grill away from the fire, or if you are using gas, turn off one of the burners and reduce the heat on the other burners as well: cook meat on indirect heat for desired doneness. Remember, the idea is to get the steak close enough to the flame so that a crust will form and then to finish cooking on much less intense heat. For a rare steak, cook to 120 degrees; for medium-rare, 125 to 130 degrees, and for medium, 135 degrees. (You can also finish in a 400-degree oven rather than on the grill if you choose.)

Remove steak and place on carving board, cover with foil and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Remember, it's the chef's prerogative to cut a small slice for tasting and temperature before serving.

To serve, take a good carving knife and cut 1-inch slices diagonally across the grain. Serve the meat on a warm platter in its own juices.

Serves 4.

Source: Open Range: Steaks, Chops & More from Big Sky Country by Jay Bentley and Patrick Dillon (Running Press, 2012)

>>MODERATE

Pesto Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

½ bunch curly parsley

½ bunch basil (about 2 cups)

1 clove garlic

¼ cup pistachios, lightly toasted

¼ cup pecorino cheese

½ lemon, zested and freshly squeezed

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons coarse salt

¾ teaspoon white pepper

3 pounds russet potatoes (about 5 large)

cup milk, at room temperature

6 tablespoons butter, cut in small cubes

To make the pistachio-basil pesto: Blanch the parsley and basil for 10 seconds in boiling water, then plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain them, pat dry on a paper towel and roughly chop. In a processor or blender, combine the parsley and basil, garlic, pistachios, pecorino cheese, lemon juice and zest. Pulse and slowly add the olive oil until it becomes a smooth paste. If the pesto seems thicker than you would like, thin it out with a few teaspoons of water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To boil the potatoes: Peel the potatoes, cut them into 2-inch chunks and place them in a large pot. Fill it with cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. Bring to a boil over high heat, add 1 teaspoon salt and reduce the heat to medium heat. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. The potatoes should be fork-tender. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and let them cool; don't rinse them.

Assembly time: Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, return them to the pot for 2 to 3 minutes over low heat, to ensure there is as little liquid remaining as possible. Turn off the heat. Using a potato masher or a potato ricer, mash the potatoes. Add the milk, butter and 3 tablespoons pesto Stir well. Add the buttermilk until you reach the desired consistency. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon white pepper. Top the potatoes with the remaining pesto and lightly stir to create a swirl. Serve warm.

Serves 8.

Source: Haute Potato by Jacqueline Pham (Adams Media, 2013)

Books That Cook: 'Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking,' 'Haute Potato' and 'Open Range' 01/15/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 6:45pm]
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