If you have the urge to break with tradition this holiday season and forego the green bean casserole and can-shaped cranberry sauce, the library has some great new cookbooks to peruse. Here is a small sample of some recently published selections available for checkout.
In “Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking from the Heart of Louisiana” George Graham, a lifelong resident of Louisiana, engagingly details the history and traditions of the region and its food. This cookbook includes time honored recipes for jambalaya and gumbo, but you’ll also find intriguing combinations like Grilled cantaloupe and goat cheese salad. Some recipes may even prompt a double-take; the snapping turtle sauce piquante, for example.
“The Indian Cooking Course” by Monisha Bharadwaj is a beautifully photographed collection of more than 300 recipes with emphasis on selection of ingredients and preparation techniques. The food of India is as diverse as the country itself, and Bharadwaj gives a fascinating look at the culinary aspects of numerous regions.
If you like to experiment with food combinations from different regions, consider “My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen” by Asha Gomez with Martha Hall Foose. The first south, Kerala, the Indian state on the Arabian Sea, is where Gomez was raised and first learned to cook. Gomez now resides in the second south — Atlanta. Cardamom cornbread, southern-style pork vindaloo, and sweet potato and spinach bhajia are just three examples of the blending of Indian and Southern food that make this collection of recipes unique and enticing.
The Italian marketplace: Eataly, has compiled “Eataly: A Contemporary Italian Cookbook,” serving up traditional dishes with a modern twist. Recipes are quick and easy to prepare, focusing on picking the freshest locally sourced ingredients for a savory outcome.
If your only experience with tacos has been the drive-thru variety, do yourself a favor and check out “Taquería Tacos: A Taco Cookbook to Bring the Flavors of Mexico Home” by Leslie Limón. Limón shares her early memories of helping to roll masa (dough) and flattening it with a tortilla press before her grandmother placed it on the hot comal (griddle). She guides the reader through the process of creating authentic tacos from the making of the tortillas to selecting ingredients for a wide variety of fillings.
The Manatee County library system also offers free cooking demos. Chef Warren Caterson will present “Stressless Holiday Entertaining” at 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Rocky Bluff Library. On Dec. 9 at 11:30 a.m., he will present “Cooking with Wine” at the Central Library. Chef Warren, as he is popularly known, is the author of “Table for Two: The Cookbook for Couples,” and “Table for Two: Back for Seconds.” Both titles are available for checkout from the Manatee County Library System.
For more information about this, or any other subject, call your local library. You may also access the library via the Internet: www.mymanatee.org/library.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday.