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Archive for the category “Book Club”

Simply Suppers’ Lemon Pound Cake

My friend Rachel hosted a Saturday brunch a couple of weeks ago.  My contribution was Lemon Pound Cake from the cookbook Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.  Thanks to Katie for sending me this cookbook; I’ve been loving many of its recipes.

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the loaf pan
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the loaf pan
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter-flavor all-vegetable shortening
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

For the Lemon Glaze:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the reserved flour mixture and mix until well blended. Add the milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Stir to blend. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean,
about 60 to 70 minutes. While it is still in the pan, pierce several holes in the cake with a knife or skewer. Prepare the glaze and top before the cake is completely cooled or removed from the pan.

4. To make the glaze: In a small bowl combine the melted butter, sugar, lemon juice, and water.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the glaze over the cake and let the cake sit in the pan until the glaze is fully absorbed, about 20 minutes.

5. Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8.

Baked Explorations Cookbook

Just received a review copy of Baked Explorations in the mail.  Am drooling over the cover already.

Check out the book trailer!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

The following recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup is just one of many delicious entries in a new cookbook of recipes using apples by Philip & Lauren Rubin called The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite.

This recipe was sweeter and richer-tasting than my usual butternut squash soup, while still being cream- and butter-free.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken stock
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper
½ cup walnut halves
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced in ¼ -inch rounds

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the squash, apples, carrots, stock, and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Ladle the vegetables and half of the broth into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in the remaining broth, one ladleful at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, place a few walnuts in the center of a soup bowl. Shingle 2 slices of goat cheese on top of the walnuts and ladle the soup around the goat cheese. The idea is to have the goat cheese visible atop the soup. (Hint: it may be easier to ladle the soup into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour from there.)

Serves 6

Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook: Corn Muffins

The Eat Clean Cookbook by Tosca Reno is full of healthful, delicious recipes.  I enjoyed making many recipes in this cookbook, but there is one I return to again and again: Corn Muffins.  (Often I make it as cornbread in a loaf pan.)  Maybe it’s because I’m married to a southerner, but in our house, you can never have too much cornbread around.

Super Simple Corn Muffins by Tosca Reno

Dry Ingredients:
1 and 1/3 cups / 320 ml whole-wheat flour
1 1/3 cups / 320 ml cornmeal
1/3 cup / 80 ml skim milk powder
2 Tbsp / 30 ml Sucanat or rapadura sugar
2 tsp / 10 ml baking powder
2 tsp / 10 ml baking soda
1 tsp / 5 ml finely ground sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
½ cup / 120 ml unsweetened applesauce
2 cups / 480 ml skim milk, soured with 2 Tbsp / 30 ml lemon juice
2 Tbsp / 30 ml coconut oil, canola oil or melted butter
4 egg whites, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C. Line a muffin tin with unbleached paper liners.
2. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. Place wet ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix together well.
4. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix.
5. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until just golden on top.

A cool thing about this cookbook is that Tosca Reno has some signature ingredient blends that she incorporates into several recipes.  Power Flour, for example, is a combination of various flours that can be used in place of regular or whole-wheat flours.  She also has a recipe for Eat Clean Cooking Spray to use in place of PAM or the like.

Thanks to Rechelle for sending me a review copy of this cookbook.  I’ll be using it for years to come.

Organic, Shaken and Stirred: Cocktail Recipes

Organic, Shaken and Stirred: Hip Highballs, Modern Martinis and Other Totally Green Cocktails is an awesome new collection of recipes by Paul Abercrombie, published by Harvard Common Press.

I had the pleasure of being asked to look at a copy of the book and give my take here on Smorgasbite- thanks Paul!

I enjoyed sampling several of the cocktail recipes -delicious- and I enjoyed drooling over the rest.  The photography is exquisite and the ingredients- muddled blackberries, fresh mint, crystalized ginger- are, shall we say, top shelf.  That said, not too many of the recipes can be made with ingredients just lying around the house (save you tropical island dwellers, perhaps) so it pays to plan and shop accordingly.  Meanwhile, while the book calls for organic spirits (rum, tequila, etc) – regular will do.

I’m happy to be able to share with you a recipe.

Coming in Hot!

2 organic strawberries, hulled
4 slivers peeled and seeded organic jalapeno chile
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
1.5 ounces organic repasado tequila
1/2 ounce organic agave nectar

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberries, 3 of the jalapeno slivers, and the lemon juice until well mashed.  Add the tequila and agave nectar, and fill the shaker with ice cubes.  Shake vigorously, then strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with the remaining jalapeno sliver.

Lastly, Paul writes a great blog about all things cocktail at, you guessed it, organicshakenandstirred.com

Moosewood Cookbook 4-Seasons Recipe Deck

We’ve all (likely) heard of The Moosewood Cookbook from the people at The Moosewood Restaurant, but how about The Moosewood Recipe Deck?

Moosewood Restaurant Farm Fresh Meals Deck: 5- Delicious Recipes for Every Season is a collection of 50 recipe cards that fit into the box.  They are divided by season, so each season’s recipes use produce and other ingredients appropriate to that time of year.  There is a mixture of main courses (pastas, casseroles, sandwiches), sides (soups, salads, vegetables) and desserts (cookies, pies, and puddings) for each season so that you can plan an entire menu very easily.

Another benefit to the cards is that you can throw one or three into your bag before heading to the store without being weighed down by a whole book.

I have tried several of the recipes from this deck and found them all to really highlight seasonal flavors and not use too many ingredients (a big plus in my book deck).

Thanks to Jessica for sending me a copy to review.

Recipe: Taste of Home’s Honey-Oat Granola Bars

I had a small gathering of friends over on Friday night to watch some livestream of TED 2010 in Long Beach.

We decided on a potluck approach to the evening so, among other things, I whipped up a batch of some Honey-Oat Granola Bars from the Taste of Home Cookbook, Cooks Who Care edition (by the people who publish Taste of Home cooking magazine- free issue offer on the website).

This is a pretty new cookbook, and it’s enormous with over 1300 recipes in every category imaginable.  A person’s name and hometown is associated with each recipe, which gives me that all-fuzzy-inside feeling.  You know, if Marlys in Cincinnati loves this recipe, it must be good 😉   I’ve noticed the ingredients tend to be budget-friendly and many of the recipes could likely be made with staples you already have in the pantry.

The Taste of Home Cookbook also features 21 heart-warming stories of people helping others through food-related efforts. The Cooks Who Care cookbook ed. celebrates the recipes and charitable acts performed by Cooks Who Care. The hope is that these stories and recipes will hopefully inspire others to make a difference in their communities.

I added a meyer lemon glaze to the top of mine to add a bit of festivity.

Honey-Oat Granola Bars with Meyer Lemon Glaze


4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped salted peanuts
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sunflower kernels
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, peanuts, chocolate chips and sunflower kernels. Stir in the butter, honey and vanilla until combined (mixture will be crumbly). Press into a greased parchment paper-lined 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.

2. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack; cut into squares. Cool completely before removing from pan. Yield: 3 dozen.


1 Meyer lemon (can substitute regular lemon)
1-1.5 cups powdered sugar

1. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Squeeze lemon over bowl so juice pours into bowl, being careful to catch any seeds.  Whisk until combined and smooth.

2. Pour over honey-oat granola bars.

Thanks to Anjali for sending me this cookbook!

The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones

I was thrilled to be contacted by Julie offering a review copy of The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.

I’ll take a nutrition book over a spy or romance novel any day, and this one had me flipping the pages late into the night.

Dr. Colbin has sound science and nutrition to back her claim that our cultural fear of osteoporosis outweighs its prevalence and true threats, and that misinformation is commonplace when it comes to our bones.  That said, there is a lot we can be doing to protect our bones into old age, and it’s not just calcium (or even just calcium plus vitamin D plus magnesium plus dairy products plus dark leafy greens).  In fact, too much of these and other good things can backfire if they upset balances within our cells and bodies.

This book outlines what the correct balances are to strive for, and includes over 80 pages of recipes to provide us with the right blend of nutrients.  I’m retaining my belief in supplements, but I agree that whole foods are the most important component of dietary health.  I would highly recommend this book for anyone who worries when she sees the list of “warning signs of osteoporosis” (caucasian, check.  thin, check.  family history, check…).  Or anyone who worries she may be seeing a future version of herself in that commercial with Sally Field.  (Not that looking like Sally Field does at her age would be a bad thing, but I digress.)

Book Club: An Honorable Run

An Honorable Run (website / amazon) is the exciting debut novel/memoir of Matt McCue, a young New Yorker by way of Iowa, Colorado, thousands of miles of cross-country running and some incredible coaching.He is also a good friend of mine.
I was proud to be (a bit) involved in the process of this book, through discussion and some editing, though I can’t take any credit for its wonderful outcome.  This is 100% McCue and I am so proud of him for accomplishing what so many intend to do but few actually do: publish a book- and a thought-provoking, heartwarming and successful book at that.
Knowing that Smorgasbite is more about eating than running, Matt was able to convince me to post on Smorgasbite in the following email (in which he quotes some of An Honorable Run’s tasty tidbits):

Besides the theme of wafting bacon, these are the best food related passages I could come up with. For the record, In N Out is very nutritious. Have you ever eaten there?

1. After one particularly draining fourteen-mile death march, I lounged on my aunt’s deck, my body feeling heavy in the wooden chair as the high noon sun roasted me. My digestive system was in tatters, the result of efforts to replenish my nearly 2,000 burned calories by eating a breakfast fit for three, and continuously shoving fried eggs and toast, cereal and spoonfuls of peanut butter into my mouth.

2. That night, along with my parents and my younger siblings, I celebrated at The Cheesecake Factory with a decadent slice of sinfully-rich peanut butter swirl cheesecake. Thanks to my high mileage and fast metabolism, the calories would burn off in my sleep.

3. To cap off the night, my dad had driven me along with a carload of my teammates, to an In-N-Out Burger. At midnight, scores of paper-thin distance runners packed the famous burger joint, gorging on well-deserved “double-doubles”, the grease running down our chins.

4. Freshly showered, I pulled up to the Fight Club’s granite kitchen counter, unfolded the sports section, and sat down to my favorite breakfast: crunchy homemade peanut butter granola doused with fresh cream.

Doesn’t that make you hungry?  Doesn’t that make you want to not run ten miles?  Doesn’t that make you want to buy this fantastic book and/or meet Matt on his extensive book tour?

Kudos, Matt.

Book Club: Bringing Nature Home

Well, haven’t I been a busy little reader lately? Or should I say busy little bee?

Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy describes the steps we need to take to restore backyard biodiversity and to keep plant and animal species from extinction.  There are colorful photographs on every page, many of bugs and plants.  Cute bugs and exotic plants!

There is a website that goes along with the book: www.PlantANative.com

This is helpful for those who don’t like books like to review online what they learned in the book.  There’s even an electronic map that makes suggestions on what to plant based on your geographic aone.  What’s more, the website has answers to tough questions.  (You know you want to check those out.)

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