Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Dogs Ate My Homework, Part 2 (ha, ha, get it? Ate?)

This one is for RubyisComing, who following my meme, asked me to share my 5 favorite cookbooks. I really do have several hundred (counting all the grocery store pamphlet style ones, but not counting all the cooking magazines), so picking just 5 was hard. So hard, that I have to preface this by saying that these 5 are some of my favorites...right now.

With so many, I don't have the space to display them ALL all the time. I only wish I did. I have dreams of a custom kitchen with a huge island, just enough cabinets to store all my cooking utensils and food, and the walls lined with shelves and shelves and shelves of cookbooks. I dream of how I would organize them. By author? Nope, too many. By type of cuisine? Maybe, but then what to do with all the eclectic ones. And so on...and so on...and so on... God, I wish how to organize my cookbooks was my biggest worry. But it's fun to dream about.

Anyway, here are five of my current favs with a recipe from each (my comments in italics). Manga!

Hershey's Classic Recipes. A girl can never have too many chocolate recipes and these are, well, classics.

Hot Fudge pudding Cake - this makes an ooey, gooey hot fudge sauce right in the pan. Why would you want to resist??

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or more, more vanilla never hurt anything!)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups hot water
Whipped Topping (or even better, real whipped cream)

Heat oven to 350. Stir together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk, butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into ungreased 9 inch square baking pan. Stir together remaining 1/2 granulated sugar, brown sugar, and remaining 1/4 cocoa. Sprinkle mixture evenly over better. Pour hot water over top. DO NOT STIR. Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Let stand 15 minutes. Spoon into dessert dishes, spooning sauce from bottom of baking pan over top. Garnish with whipped topping or whipped cream.

Cooking for Comfort, by Marian Burros - These are recipes for the weekend. When you have time and really want to cook. They understand the soothing quality of making a meal by hand.

Mushroom Barley Soup - This soup is one of our favorites. It is hearty and rich and so worth the good mushrooms. I wish it were autumn so I could make it again. And it freezes really well.

1/2 cup dried mushrooms, such as porcini
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound white mushrooms, washed, trimmed, and coarsely cut
1/2 pound shitake, cremini, portobello, or other fresh mushrooms, washed, trimmed and coarsely cut (a mix of the all makes for wonderful texture)
1/2 cup pearled barley
6 cups good quality beef broth or stock
3 tablespoons dry sherry
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon wine vinegar

Cover the dried mushrooms with the hot water and set aside for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and finely chop the mushrooms.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed deep pot. Saute the onion and carrot in the oil over medium heat until the onion begins to color. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the fresh mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms soften and begin to release their liquid.

Raise the heat, add the barley and saute until it begins to color slightly. Add the broth and the sherry. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a fine strainer (a coffee filter works just fine) and add to the pot along with the reconstituted mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the barley is tender. Stir in the wine vinegar, adjust the seasonings and serve.

Shakespeare's Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook, by Francine Segan. I haven't actually made anything from this one yet (it was a recent gift from G.), but it is so beautiful and different I had to include it. All of the recipes are based on actual Renaissance food, with lots of interesting side notes by the author. Although most of the ingredients are ones we see every day, the flavor combinations are not. It's fascinating (at least to me, but I'm a food dork.)

Almond Saffron Chicken in Bread - I wish you could see this picture. So lovely. Ooh, you can. It's the recipe on the cover!

4 saffron threads
4 ounces almond oil
1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons almond paste
salt and freshly milled black pepper
8 oz cooked chicken
12 almonds, chopped
2 cups finely chopped assorted fresh herbs and greens (sorrel, endive, flat-leaf parsley, baby spinach, mint, etc)
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
1/8 tsp dried sage
pinch of cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup currants
2 tablespoons ground pistachios
1 round loaf of day old French sourdough country bread (about 10" in diameter)
1 tablespoon butter, softened

Soak the saffron threads in the almond oil for 30 minutes. Combine the egg yolk and the mustard in a large bowl and slowly whisk in the almond oil until a mayonnaise forms. Whisk in the almond paste, season with salt and combine with chicken and almonds.

Preheat over to 375. Cut a 4" circle in the top of the bread, remove the top circle of crust and scoop out the soft bread inside the loaf. Place the fresh herbs and greens, marjoram, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, currants and pistachios in a bowl and mix well. Spread the herb mixture in an even layer in the bottom and up the sides of the bread bowl, reserving about 1/2 cup for the top. Spoon the chicken mixture over the herbs, completely filling the cavity. Spread the reserved herb mixture over the top and replace the top crust of the bread. Spread the butter on the bottom of the bread, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes.

1000 Chocolate Baking and Dessert Recipes from Around the World, by Parragon Publishing - I know I already listed one chocolate cookbook. Sue me, sue me, what can you do me...(okay, I'm also a musical theatre dork)

Banana and Chocolate Chip Loaf - I adore fresh banana bread, so when I found this recipe that added chocolate, I was in love. Plus, its an easy one to take to work for the endless birthday parties. I swear, I don't understand how the whole firm doesn't waddle.

4 oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
scant 1 cup light brown sugar
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, beaten
5 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
whipped cream or butter to serve

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a loaf pan. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a bowl and set aside. (I rarely bother to sift).

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together til light and fluffy. Beat in the bananas and then the eggs. Stir in the flour mixture, alternating it with the boiling water, until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Turn out to finish cooling. Serve in slices (or huge chunks if you are me) with whipped cream or butter.

The Internet - Really. You can find a recipe (or 300) for almost anything you want. You can read reviews on them, the way other people tweaked them to suit, get ideas other dishes to go with, sources for the odd ingredients, and more. A couple of my favorite sites are and Both offer daily or weekly email newsletters, and more. No recipes for this one. Go find your own and report back.


atomic mama said...

The mushroom-barley soup sounds FAB - I'll have to try that! And I know I am weird, but I am not a crave-er of the chocolate or baked goods... I'll eat 'em ('cause I'll eat anything), but I can do without them.

rubyiscoming said...

FABU chica!!! I love it! I, too, am obsessed with and I belong to the Good Cook Book Club. I "only" have about 100 cookbooks, but I'm well on my way to joining your ranks :)

The pudding cake and barley soup are must tries for me this week - thanks!

We just had a paella party on Saturday and I'll try and put some of the recipes up on our blog

Dee said...

Ruby - I've never had paella so I'm looking forward to seeing your recipies!

Amy said...

Was that a challenge? Here's one of my favorite recipes from

Butter Rum Glazed Applesauce Cake

1/3 cup unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
1 cup applesauce
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped (not Red Delicious—too mushy for baking)
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ tsp rum extract
3 to 4 Tbsp half and half or milk

Preheat oven to 3500. Grease an 8-inch baking pan. For cake: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, 2 to 2 ½ minutes, just until butter begins to brown. Remove from heat; stir in sugar, applesauce, apple, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in applesauce mixture and mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Prepare glaze: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 2 ½ minutes, just until butter begins to brown. Immediately remove from heat; stir in confectioners’ sugar, rum extract, and half-and-half or milk until spreadable and smooth. Pour warm glaze over cake when it’s removed from oven. Let cool 30 minutes. Serve warm.

I will make your chocolate pudding cake at my earliest convenience. :)

Mrs.X said...

I have the most ridiculous collection of recipe books. Most of them I've never even peeked at.
Except for the jello one because it claimed to have over 100 different ways to prepare jello and I HAD to see that. (except, ew!)

Anonymous said...

Can I just come over and eat at your house?

Anonymous said...

I just copied those recipes. I love them! I think the chicken in the bread sounds great and who can resist banana bread with chocolate.

Millicent said...

Thanks for sharing the recipes. As I am living a life of leisure these days, I think that one of my responsibilities is to cook for my husband and I. Me? Cook? Yes. I am gradually becoming more and more comfortable in the kitchen and that makes me happy. Maybe I'll try one of those recipes...I like the chicken in bread one. Share more recipes when you get a chance. Thanks!

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