TITLE: The American Cookbook — A Fresh Take on Classic Recipes by Elena Rosemond-Hoerr and Caroline Bretherton (DK Publishing, $25, 256 pages)
GENERALLY SPEAKING: If you are a fan of classic American foods such as mac and cheese and fried green tomatoes but want to change up the recipes, this cookbook will help you do it. Sometimes, the classic version of a recipe is given with three variety suggestions. For example, the classic mac and cheese recipe suggests tomato and ricotta, tuna and petit pois, or mac 'n' cheese balls as variations.
FOR: Those who like, but get a little bored with, classic recipes. There are lots of choices so your menu won't become stale. Most recipes are perfect for any skill level but there are a few that require a more advanced understanding of techniques.
RECIPES: Bourbon and brown sugar BBQ chicken, garlic buttered roast turkey, pork chops with apple and bacon compote, Boston baked beans, vegetable fajitas with cilantro cream, sweet potato Parmesan tots, strawberries and cream whoopie pies, jalapeno, onion and cheddar hush puppies, mole shredded pork enchiladas, three-bean chili, spicy chorizo-style dirty rice, deli-style Reuben, peach cobbler, Boston cream trifle, tomato, basil and mozzarella pizza, sausage and chestnut stuffing and rainbow potato gratin.
TITLE: Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond by David Ponte, Jamie Barber and Lizzy Barber (Sterling Epicure, $24.95, 192 pages)
GENERALLY SPEAKING: Brazilian food uses fresh ingredients, especially pork, prawns and fresh fruits such as limes and bananas. Some ingredients — like cassava meal or guava paste — may be harder to find than others, but most are readily available. This is more than a cookbook. You can learn to samba; you can learn about Brazilian fruits; you can even learn how futebol came to Brazil.
FOR: You really don't have to be too adventurous for the recipes in this cookbook. The recipe names may be a bit intimidating but there are no difficult techniques.
RECIPES: Cachaca grilled chicken, picana burger, steak oswaldo aranha, shrimp, pineapple and palm heart salad with honey-cinnamon dressing, crazy lady cake, beijinhos, banana upside-down cake, malagueta jumbo shrimp, cachaca grilled chicken, grilled crab shells, mango and coconut granola crunch, Brazilian hot chocolate, chili and cumin marinated hanger steak and chili mayonnaise.
TITLE: The Big Book of Breakfast & Brunch (Betty Crocker, $19.99, 336 pages)
GENERALLY SPEAKING: Experts and moms alike have always said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This new cookbook from Betty Crocker will give you a plethora of recipes to start your day. Some of the recipes can be made ahead and baked while you get ready for school or work. There are even a few gluten-free recipes.
FOR: Breakfast lovers! There are lots of great recipes here.
RECIPES: Oatmeal pancakes with banana walnut syrup, raspberry-rhubarb puff pancake, cinnamon French toast sticks with spicy cider syrup, very berry parfaits, carrot mango smoothie poppers, sausage-French toast panini, maple bacon buttermilk waffles, upside-down banana-walnut French toast, cinnamon breakfast bread pudding, cheesy sausage and egg bake, peachy chai smoothies, super spinach smoothies, s'mores hot cereal, indulgent overnight oatmeal swap, cranberry-apple gran-oatmeal, very berry parfaits, veggie-stuffed omelet, creamy chocolate-almond coffee, and breakfast tacos.
Boston Cream Trifle
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 stick butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup milk
1 pound 5 ounces berries, such as blackberries, strawberries (hulled and halved), raspberries, blueberries
For the custard:
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
⅓ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the ganache:
3 cups semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
For the custard: Heat the milk, cream and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat immediately.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Gradually add the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer to a clean saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Sieve the custard into a bowl ow remove the vanilla bean and any lumps. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the bowl, making sure it touches the top of the custard and chill.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Double sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. Using an electric hand whisk, cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking between additions, then add the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour mixture using a large metal spoon, one-third at a time, alternating with the milk. Continue to fold until the batter is smooth and everything is well incorporated.
Grease and line a 9-inch square pan and pour the batter into the pan, making sure it spreads evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
For the ganache: Heat the chocolate and cream in a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or in the top of a double boiler). The bowl should not touch the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Slice the cake into 5- by 5-inch squares and place a layer of cake at the bottom of a tall glass bowl. Spread the berries evenly on top of the cake, reserving a handful for garnishing. Pour the custard evenly over the berries, then top with the remaining cake slices. Pour the ganache over the top and smooth it out. Top with the reserved berries and place in the refrigerator to chill. Serve chilled.
Source: The American Cookbook — A Fresh Take on Classic Recipes by Elena Rosemond-Hoerr and Caroline Bretherton (DK Publishing)
Shrimp, Pineapple and Palm Heart Salad With Honey-Cinnamon Dressing
1 small ripe pineapple, diced
9 ounces cooked shrimp
1 (14-ounce) can palm hearts, drained and sliced
Small handful of mint, leaves chopped
Small handful of Italian parsley, leaves chopped
Large handful of arugula
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons runny honey (see note)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons sunflower or other neutral-flavored oil
First, make the dressing. Whisk the honey (note: loosen the top of the jar and set it in hot water until it becomes liquid again), cinnamon, mustard, salt and pepper together to create a thick paste. Gradually whisk in the vinegar, followed by the oil. (If making in advance, store the vinaigrette in a sealed jar and refrigerate. It will keep for 1-2 weeks.)
Assemble the salad when you are nearly ready to serve. Toss the pineapple, shrimp, palm hearts, mint and parsley together in a large bowl. Add the arugula and half the dressing and gently toss again. Divide the salad among the 4 individual bowls and drizzle over a little more dressing. Serve immediately.
Source: Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond by David Ponte, Jamie Barber and Lizzy Barber (Sterling Epicure)
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup chopped walnuts
3 medium bananas, sliced
1 loaf (about 1 pound) sliced, unfrosted, firm cinnamon bread
1 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar, if desired
Spray 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and walnuts until smooth. Gently stir in bananas. Spoon mixture into baking dish.
Reserve ends of bread loaf for another use; they do not soak up the egg mixture very well. Arrange 2 layers of bread on banana mixture, tearing bread to fit if needed.
In medium bowl, beat eggs, milk and vanilla with whisk until well blended. Pour over bread. Cover tightly; refrigerate at least 1 hour but no longer than 24 hours.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake uncovered 45 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve portions upside down, spooning sauce from bottom of dish over each serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
Source: The Big Book of Breakfast & Brunch (Betty Crocker)