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Cookbooks for lovers of sweets, Southern food and salads

TITLE: The Flying Brownie by Shirley Fan (Harvard Common Press, $17.95, 176 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: You might think from the name that this is a cookbook full of brownie recipes. Not so. There is a great variety of treats suitable for desserts, lunch boxes or as gifts. Many of the recipes will keep for one month or more, making them perfect for care packages.

FOR: This cookbook is perfect for so many people. Most recipes are designed for shipping so if you have a college student and love to cook, these will be perfect for those care packages. Many recipes make dozens, good if your church, school or organization holds bake sales as fundraisers. Some recipes may be intimidating but most are good for any skill level.

RECIPES: salted nut brittle, cherry, hazelnut and pistachio nougat, coffee and spice doughnut loaf, orange-bourbon tipsy cake, black pepper and rosemary crackers, crunchy PB&J cookies, glazed coconut-lime shortbread, chocolate-caramel surprise cookies, tricolored peppermint striped cookies, cinnamon marshmallows, cherry vanilla granola and peanut butter crunch brownies

TITLE: Southern Living No Taste Like Home — A Celebration of Regional Southern Cooking and Hometown Flavor by Kelly Alexander (Oxmoor House, $27.95, 320 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: When someone mentions Southern food, fried food often comes to mind. This cookbook is much more than fried food. There are classic Southern dishes but also some updated versions of Southern favorites. You'll find recipes from popular restaurants and chefs as well as some from celebrities who call the South home.

FOR: Southern food lovers and those who love to travel. This cookbook reads, in part, like a travel book with stops in places such as Nashville, Austin, Cajun country, Birmingham and Louisville, with author Kelly Alexander bringing each city to life with a brief tour.

RECIPES: bananas foster upside-down cake, flounder with lady pea succotash, peach melba shortcakes, vanilla-rosemary lemonade, crawfish pie, mandarin black bean salad, asparagus-new potato hash, bourbon mushrooms, sorghum-glazed turnips, Crook's Corner shrimp and grits, spicy slow cooker beef chili and chicken, shrimp and ham jambalaya

TITLE: Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings — 60 Sensational Recipes to Liven Up Greens, Grains, Slaws, and Every Kind of Salad by Michele Anna Jordan (Harvard Common Press, $16.95, 182 pages)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: If you've never made a vinaigrette or salad dressing from scratch, you just don't know what you're missing. This new cookbook will change the way you look at store-bought dressings and, in most cases, using the recipes and making your own will save money. Also included are potato salad, slaw, salads made with bread and grains that use a choice of dressings. You may even be inspired to create your own dressings. Each recipe includes a box suggesting best uses for that recipe.

FOR: Just about anyone. If you enjoy salads made with grains, greens and other ingredients you're sure to find a dressing for them here.

RECIPES: ruby vinaigrette, white wine vinaigrette, creamy feta and green peppercorn dressing, harissa sauce, warm bacon-maple vinaigrette, caraway vinaigrette, warm shallot vinaigrette, basic warm potato salad with variations, shellfish pasta salad, apple cider vinaigrette, plain and simple farro salad, warm tomato vinaigrette

>>MODERATE

Chewy Mocha Caramels

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee granules

4 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup water

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving extra for overhang; set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the heavy cream, butter, espresso powder, cocoa and salt. Heat until the mixture is warm and combined, whisking constantly.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Carefully add the cream mixture to the pan — it will bubble violently, so use caution. Bring the mixture up to 245 degrees. Quickly pour the caramel into the prepared pan and allow the mixture to cool at room temperature until set, about 2 hours.

Grasping the parchment paper, remove the caramel from the pan and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the caramels into bite-sized pieces. Wrap in candy wrappers, waxed paper or parchment paper and pack the candies in zipper-top plastic bags or airtight containers.

Makes 6 to 7 dozen.

Source: The Flying Brownie by Shirley Fan

>>EASY

Blackberry Cornbread

2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix

½ cup sugar

5 large eggs

1 (16-ounce) container sour cream

½ cup canola oil or melted butter

2 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Stir together cornmeal mix and sugar in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together eggs, sour cream and oil; add to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in blackberries. Spoon batter into a lightly greased 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 25 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary.

Serves 8 to 10.

For muffins: Prepare batter as directed. Fill wells ¾ full in two lightly greased 12-muffin pans. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Cool in pans on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack.

Makes 2 dozen.

Source: Southern Living No Taste Like Home by Kelly Alexander

>>EASY

Molasses and Honey Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons molasses, warmed

2 tablespoons honey, warmed, plus more as needed

6 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 small shallot, minced

3 tablespoons toasted chopped pecans (optional)

2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Put the molasses and honey in a wide-mouth pint jar, add the vinegar and salt, close the jar tightly and shake it vigorously until the mixture is smooth. Add the shallot, pecans (if using), white pepper and olive oil. Close the jar and shake it again.

Taste and correct for sweetness, acid, salt and oil as needed. Use immediately or store, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days. Shake the dressing vigorously immediately before using.

Best uses: salad of sweet potato, red onion and toasted pecans; salad of spaghetti squash and Spanish chorizo; roasted root vegetable salad; slow-cooked collard greens.

Makes about 2 cups.

Source: Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings by Michele Anna Jordan

Cookbooks for lovers of sweets, Southern food and salads 10/28/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 28, 2013 2:04pm]

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