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Cookbook reviews: Winter cocktails and a new book from Giada De Laurentiis

.TITLE: Giada's Feel Good Food: My Healthy Recipes and Secrets by Giada De Laurentiis (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 256 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: This cookbook is quintessential Giada De Laurentiis. If there was no title to the cookbook, you'd know they were her recipes by the ingredients. Many of the recipes contain her favorite grains such as quinoa, farro and bulgur, to name a few. Another telltale sign that this is a Giada cookbook? The nibbler recipes she includes. She has a knack for snack recipes such as cinnamon kettle corn and smoked almonds. The recipes are suited for any taste and skill level.

FOR: If you are a fan of Giada's you'll want this book in your collection. If you're not, you'll want the book for the healthful aspects. The recipes are flavorful without a lot of fat and use healthful ingredients such as whole wheat and multigrain products.

RECIPES: Chewy Granola Bars, Vegetarian Chili Verde, Halibut With Artichoke and Olive Caponata, Stuffed Red Bell Peppers With Whole Wheat Couscous and Avocado Sauce, Chocolate Fig Bites and updated Waldorf Salad With Apple Vinaigrette.

.TITLE: Fine Cooking Soups & Stews: No-Fail Recipes for Every Season by editors of Fine Cooking (Taunton Press, $17.95, 235 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Maybe the cool weather we had recently put you in the mood for soup or stew. This cookbook offers classic recipes like tomato soup and classic chicken pot pie as well as more unfamiliar dishes like chicken, lemon and olive stew. Some recipes have a long list of ingredients and even longer instructions that can be intimidating. Don't fear. Many of the techniques are simple and can be achieved by most any home cook.

FOR: People who enjoy the comfort, and the warmth, that soups and stews provide. If you enjoy a simmering pot on the stove or want something quickly, you will find recipes for both.

RECIPES: Spiced Lentil Soup With Herbed Yogurt, Bouillabaisse, Farmhouse Ragout With Pesto, Cinnamon Beef Noodle Soup, Root Vegetable and Barley Soup With Bacon, Potatoes and Porcini, Yogurt and Lime and Parsnip and Parmesan soup.

.TITLE: Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks by Maria del Mar Sacasa and Tara Striano (Quirk Books, $22.95, 159 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Many party planners suggest serving a signature drink to guests, a drink that friends and family come to expect at your gatherings. If you're looking for such a beverage, Winter Cocktails may have just the thing. It is important to mention that some of these beverages are labor intensive. For example, the Homemade Sangria requires you to make homemade sour mix or homemade blood orange sour mix before you even begin to mix the sangria. There are many classic drink recipes as well as some that appear to be original.

FOR: People who enjoy entertaining and serving cocktails. There are some snack recipes, but the book's primary focus is adult beverages.

RECIPES: Drinks: Brandy Alexander, Nutella Melt, Hot Buttered Rum, White Sangria, Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and Mulled Wine. Small bites: Cheese-Crusted Olives, Homemade Marshmallows, Orange, Cardamom and Pistachio Mexican Wedding Cakes and Bagna Cauda.


Kale and Mushroom Wraps

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1 medium leek, white and pale green part only, rinsed and thinly sliced

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

(4 cups)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (8-ounce) bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped

¼ cup vegetable broth

cup unsweetened dried cranberries

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (¼ cup), at room temperature

4 (10-inch) high-fiber multigrain wraps

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, leek, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 8 minutes. Add the broth and cranberries. Bring to a boil and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the goat cheese. Divide the filling among the wraps. Fold the bottom of each wrap up and roll in the sides, like a burrito. Cut in half and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Giada's Feel Good Food, My Healthy Recipes and Secrets by Giada De Laurentiis (Clarkson Potter, 2013)


Winter White Hot Chocolate

4 cups whole milk

6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (see note)

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in chocolate and salt and cook, stirring, until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almond extracts and lemon juice. Serve in warmed cups.

Serves 4.

Note: Use the best-quality white chocolate you can find. Lower-grade varieties tend to be chalky and overly sweet.

Source: Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks by Maria del Mar Sacasa and Tara Striano (Quirk Books, 2013)


Tortellini in Broth With Roasted Vegetables

3 cups (¾ inch diced) winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, cauliflower, broccoflower, winter squash and sweet potatoes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt

6 ounces frozen cheese tortellini

1 small shallot, sliced into rings

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

¼ cup (about ½ ounce) freshly and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

½ small lemon, cut into 2 wedges

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a large pot of water on to boil. In a 9- by 13-inch baking dish, toss the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and spread in one layer. Roast until well browned and shrunken, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After the vegetables have roasted for about 15 minutes, add 2 teaspoons salt and the tortellini to the boiling water; cook the pasta until tender. Drain the tortellini in a colander. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add shallots; saute until softened and browned, about 2 ½ minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes and add broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off heat and keep covered.

Divide the tortellini among 4 warmed bowls. Spoon the roasted vegetables over the pasta. Pour the broth over the vegetables and garnish with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Source: Fine Cooking Soups & Stews: No-Fail Recipes for Every Season by editors of Fine Cooking (Taunton Press, 2013)

Cookbook reviews: Winter cocktails and a new book from Giada De Laurentiis 12/09/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 9, 2013 4:34pm]
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