With the holidays nearing, tempting cookbooks clamor for your attention, each promising to turn you into a chef extraordinaire. Here are three new cookbooks that can help you create nourishing meals for your family—and they make great gift ideas, too!
SUMPTUOUS SLOW COOKING
In The Vegetarian Slow Cooker author Judith Finlayson codes dishes with “vegan friendly,” “entertaining worthy,” or “can be halved,” and provides preparation tips and make-ahead options. Attractive photos illustrate many of the dishes such as Irish Oatmeal with Fruit & Toasted Nuts, Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping, and fondues. We tried this sumptuous Indian dish first.
Onion-Braised Potatoes with Spinach
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
4 onions, thinly sliced on the vertical
4 cloves garlic, minced (I pressed mine)
1 Tbsp. minced gingerroot
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
2 cardamom pods, crushed
14 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup vegetable broth
2 lbs. new potatoes, quartered
1 clamshell fresh spinach or 10 oz. package frozen spinach leaves, thawed
¼ tsp cayenne pepper dissolved in 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat oil in a skillet over medium. Add onions and stir until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, salt, peppercorns and cardamom and cook stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and vegetable broth and bring to boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware and add potatoes stirring well. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, until potatoes are tender. Discard cardamom pods. Add spinach in batches, stirring until all the leaves are submerged in liquid. Add cayenne pepper solution and stir well. Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes until spinach is wilted and flavors have melded. Serve with brown rice and a salad.
HEARTY VEGAN CUISINE
It’s possible to repair insulin function and reverse type 2 diabetes by following Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes. This vegan diet improves your body’s response to insulin so that you can cut back or eliminate medication, reduce diabetic complications, lower your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and boost your energy.
This easy-to-read book includes a 7-day menu plan with vegan recipes to get you started. I like the emphasis on international cuisine because native diets are often the healthiest and most interesting way to enjoy whole foods.
Black-Eyed Peas with Sweet Potatoes
Serve with brown rice or low-fat cornbread with hot sauce on the side.
1 package (10-ounces) frozen kale, chard, or collard greens
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 packages (10-ounces each) frozen black eyed peas, thawed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (18 ounces) vacuum-packed unsweetened sweet potatoes, drained, rinsed and chopped, or 2 cups cooked
a few dashes of liquid smoke
Thaw greens in microwave or a bowl of boiling water and drain. Chop and combine with the broth, black-eyed peas, garlic, sweet potatoes, and liquid smoke in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
CASSEROLES TO SWOON OVER
Faith Durand captures the essence of the all-in-one meal in Not Your Mother’s Casserole. Durand easily lures us with recipes like Gruyere and Spinach Egg Puff and the Australian favorite dessert Salted Caramel and Walnut Slice, while she revels in obliterating the casserole stigma. Each recipe has a lively intro with clearly written steps. I sense this is a cookbook my family will treasure.
Oven Paella with Chicken, Shrimp, and Chorizo
If you’re a paella fan but have never had the nerve to make it, this recipe is a doable method, prepared in stages, using a single 5-quart Dutch oven.
½ tsp. saffron threads
1 tbsp. hot water
½ lb. smoked chorizo cut into ½-inch-thick coins (can use lowfat chicken chorizo)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 ¼ cups short-grain or Arborio white rice
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup white wine
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. small shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ lb. mussels, cleaned
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
smoked paprika for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Crumble saffron threads in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them. Let them soak while preparing the meat.
2. Put the Dutch oven over medium high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add sausage and cook until browned on both sides about 6 minutes. Remove. Add chicken pieces and cook until chicken is light golden brown, turning and stirring as they brown (may be done in batches). Remove and set aside with sausage.
3. Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic to the drippings left in pan, and turn heat down to medium. Cook stirring frequently until the onion is translucent and garlic is golden. Add the rice, stir, and cook for five minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and turn the heat to high. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes then add wine, chicken broth, and saffron mixture. Stir in salt and generous amount of pepper. Bring to simmer, then stir in the browned chicken and sausage.
5. Bake covered for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Rinse the shrimp then pat dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Uncover the paella dish and add the shrimp and mussels arranging them evenly in the rice and pushing them down a bit. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and mussels have opened. Discard any unopened mussels.
6. Drizzle the finished paella with melted butter and dust lightly with paprika. Serve immediately.
Anya Wolfenden, M.A., is the director of communications for The Heritage Natural Market soon to be at the NEW location: 984 Laskin Rd, Virginia Beach, in The Linkhorn Shoppes. Call 757-428-0500 or visit www.HeritageNaturalMarket.com.