Cookbook reviews: Greek yogurt; homemade bread; comfort food

.TITLE: Cooking With Greek Yogurt by Cassie Johnston (Countryman Press, $15.95, 173 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Every recipe uses plain Greek yogurt to step up the healthy aspect of the dish. Greek yogurt is calcium-rich, full of probiotics and often has twice the amount of protein traditional yogurt does. Greek yogurt is a great substitute for cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream in many dishes.

FOR: The recipes for "lightened-up comfort foods" are for anyone looking for a healthier lifestyle. The yogurt complements, rather than overpowers, the flavors of the recipes.

RECIPES: Wedding cauliflower soup; cranberry-oat breakfast bars; Buffalo blue cheese chicken dip; dark chocolate coconut frozen yogurt; green chicken enchiladas; under-the-weather smoothie; lemon poppy seed cupcakes; potato salad with sun-dried tomatoes and bacon; broccoli rice cheddar bake; sweet corn chowder; creamy chickpea and tuna salad; orange salted chocolate mousse; and roasted red pepper spaghetti.

.TITLE: Made at Home Breads by Dick and James Strawbridge (Mitchell Beazley, $19.99, 176 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: If you have ever wanted to bake bread at home, from scratch, but were too intimidated, Made at Home Breads will help you every step of the way. The authors cover just about everything you ever wanted to know about breadmaking: preparation, kinds of breads (yeast bread, quick breads and those made from starters), yeast, pans, water misters, oven temperatures and more. It includes 50 recipes with more than 15 clear, step-by-step techniques. Some recipes may be more advanced for the first-time bread baker, so find one you're comfortable with and work up to the more difficult ones.

FOR: The novice home bread baker. I'm certain that more experienced bread bakers will benefit also.

RECIPES: Potato bread; pumpernickel, crumbly cheese biscuits; sourdough; stollen; saffron rolls; soda bread; English muffins; fig, walnut and red wine bread; banana dumplings; baguettes; focaccia; brioche; and bagels.

.TITLE: Junior's Home Cooking — Over 100 Recipes for Classic Comfort Food by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen (Taunton Press, $24.95, 268 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: For those who may not know, Junior's is a landmark metro New York restaurant chain that has been specializing in comfort food and cheesecakes since 1950. Inside this cookbook you will find more than 100 recipes with many variations, plus tips and techniques for successful dishes. Many of the recipes can be mixed and matched to create an array of menus. Pair Junior's club sandwich with roasted tomato soup. Serve up Southern fried chicken with Junior's red skin potato salad and carrot sheet cake with Junior's cream cheese frosting for dessert. From simple to sophisticated, this cookbook has it all.

FOR: Fans of Junior's restaurants, fans of comfort food and fans of good made-from-scratch food.

RECIPES: French onion soup with Swiss cheese; Junior's Cobb salad; fried green pickles; homemade potato chips; curried jumbo shrimp; company prime rib of beef au jus; veal cutlet parmigiana; oven-braised short ribs; potato pancakes with homemade applesauce; Junior's cheesecake French toast; cherry crumb pie; s'more cupcakes, whoopie pie cheesecake; and combo Reuben.

>>EASY

Creamy Chickpea and Tuna Salad

1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 (5-ounce) cans chunk light tuna, packed in water, drained

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 medium stalks celery, diced

½ medium onion, diced

1 teaspoon minced fresh dill

¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds

Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Serve immediately, or refrigerate a few hours so flavors meld.

Serves 4.

Source: Cooking With Greek Yogurt by Cassie Johnson

>>MODERATE

Crumbly Cheese Biscuits

3 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

6 tablespoons butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

1 cup milk

2 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 ½ tablespoons baking powder

2 eggs, beaten, plus extra for brushing

4 ounces cheddar cheese, or other crumbly cheese

½ cup walnuts, whole or lightly broken into pieces

¼ cup shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Place the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl, then rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, baking powder and beaten eggs, then use your hands to form a rough dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth. Sprinkle the crumbly cheese and walnuts over the dough and work again for another few minutes until evenly distributed.

Shape dough again into a round about 10 inches across. Transfer to greased baking sheet and score loaf into 8 triangles with a knife, being careful not to cut all the way through the dough. Brush the top with beaten egg and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush with a little more egg and sprinkle with the shredded cheese, if using. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden. Let cool on a wire rack.

Wrap leftover biscuits in wax paper and store in a bread box to stay fresh for three to four days. Refresh before eating by warming in a preheated 350-degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes.

Makes 8.

Source: Made at Home Breads by Dick and James Strawbridge

>>MODERATE

Curried Jumbo Shrimp

3 cups uncooked white rice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons curry powder

¾ teaspoon turmeric

2 large onions, cut in half, then each half cut into ¼-inch-thick half-moons (2 cups)

2 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into ¾-inch dice (1 ½ cups)

1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic

Kosher salt

2 pounds jumbo shrimp (21/25 count), shelled and deveined

½ cup chicken stock or broth (homemade or store-bought)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into ¾-inch dice (1 ½ cups)

1 ½ cups sliced scallions (white and green parts) cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

to ¼ teaspoon minced seeded fresh hot pepper, such as Scotch bonnet, optional)

Cook rice per the package directions; keep warm.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, stir in the curry powder and turmeric and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant; be careful not to burn the spices. Add the onions and bell peppers and saute for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt and saute until crisp-tender, about 1 minute more. Stir in the shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes.

Mix the stock and cornstarch together in a cup until dissolved. Stir into the skillet and continue cooking until the shrimp has cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, then the scallions and hot pepper, if using, and heat through. Taste the dish and adjust the seasonings if you like. Serve immediately over the hot rice. This dish is at its best when served right after you make it.

Serves 6.

Source: Junior's Home Cooking

Cookbook reviews: Greek yogurt; homemade bread; comfort food 01/13/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 13, 2014 5:55pm]

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