Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sneak Peeks - May $3.99 or Less List!

Grandma had a field-day at the Amazon $3.99 or Less May Kindle book sale, picking up a couple of old favorites and a slew of new cookbooks. Here's what she found:

Grandma has had the paper version of Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations in her collection ever since the book was published.  Containing recipes for 63 different cakes that include Pound Cakes, seven different Coconut Cakes, classics like Lane Cake and Lady Baltimore Cake, fruitcakes, layer cakes and even a New Orleans version of Dobosh Torte, plus nearly a dozen more recipes for frostings and fillings, most of the included  recipes have been collected from some of the best cooks in the South.

The book is well laid out and features an interactive Table of Contents accessible from the Kindle Navigation menu.  All of the recipes are for "scratch" cakes - not a cake mix in the bunch.  Those new to the world of cake baking will greatly appreciate Nancy McDermott's "Baking 101",  where she does an excellent job of providing detailed instructions in the ins-and-outs of cake baking.  Here's a sample recipe:

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting 

This old-timey combination is simple to make and simply delicious. You may want to plan ahead so that you have ripe bananas available on your kitchen counter. You can use a mixer to cream the butter, sugar, and eggs, but be sure to stir in the flour, buttermilk, and bananas with a big spoon or a spatula—the good old-fashioned way—to keep the cake tender.
Serves 8 TO 10
Banana Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk  (see NOTE)
1½ cups mashed ripe bananas
Chocolate Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) butter
⅓ cup cocoa
⅓ cup evaporated milk or half-and-half
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
TO MAKE THE CAKE, heat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to combine well.
IN A LARGE BOWL, combine the butter and sugar, and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the vanilla. Beat well for 2 to 3 minutes more, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until you have a smooth batter.
USING A LARGE SPOON or spatula, stir in half the flour just until it disappears into the batter.  Stir in the buttermilk, and then the remaining flour, the same way. Quickly and gently fold in the mashed bananas, and then divide the batter between the 2 cake pans.
BAKE at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center, and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.
COOL FOR 10 MINUTES in the pans on wire racks or folded kitchen towels. Then turn out onto wire racks or plates to cool completely, top side up.
TO MAKE THE FROSTING, in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, and evaporated milk. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the cocoa dissolves into a dark, shiny essence. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at low speed until you have a smooth, thick frosting.
TO COMPLETE THE CAKE, place one layer, top side down, on a cake plate or serving plate, and spread about I cup of frosting evenly over the top. Cover with the second layer, placed top side up. Spread the frosting evenly, first over the sides and then covering the top of the cake.
NOTE: If you don’t have buttermilk, stir 1½ teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice into ½ cup of milk, and let stand 10 minutes. 
McDermott, Nancie; Luigart-Stayner, Becky (2012-02-17). Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations (Kindle Locations 1806-1808). Chronicle Books. Kindle Edition. 

Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking is new on Grandma's shelf - here's the description:


In Sri Lanka a meal is typically referred to as 'rice & curry'--and curries can vary from main dish offerings (meat, chicken, fish, or mutton) to an assortment of vegetable and even fruit curries. Indian, Malay, Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences all left their mark on the cuisine, but indigenous Sinhalese dishes have remained popular in villages for centuries.

Fernando takes readers on an unforgettable culinary journey through Sri Lanka: demystifying ingredients, spices, and flavors and proving that Sri Lankan food is an easy-to-prepare, healthy option for modern lifestyles.

Includes over 100 recipes, an introduction to Sri Lankan history, culture and cuisine, and stunning color photographs throughout.

The book is loaded with photographs and contains a number of easy to do recipes, but the part that Grandma likes best is the extensive list of Indian ingredients and spices, each of which is accompanied by a picture.  Grandma has been hankering for a picture dictionary of Indian and other Asian ingredients for quite some while.  Here's a sample recipe:


This hearty South Indian soup gets the Sri Lankan treatment with the addition of coconut milk, raw curry powder, and tempered ingredients prior to serving. 
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 pounds (1 kg) chicken or mutton with bones, chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, sliced
• 2-inch (5-cm) piece ginger, sliced
• 10 black peppercorns
• 3 tablespoons raw curry powder (page 41)
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
• 8 to 10 cups (2 liters) water
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1/2 pound (250 g) tomatoes, diced
• 1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
• salt to taste
• dash of lime juice
For tempering:
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 sprig curry leaves
• 2 teaspoons raw curry powder 
1. Heat oil in pan. When hot, fry onions until translucent.  
2. Add chicken, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, curry powder, and turmeric powder, and toss for 2 to 3 minutes.  
3. Add water, carrot, and tomatoes and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about I hour until stock is reduced to half.  
4. Remove meat, cut into small pieces, and discard bones. Return meat to pot and add coconut milk and salt to taste.  
5. just before serving, fry the tempering ingredients in a small skillet and add to pot, stirring well. Add a dash of lime juice before serving. 
S. H. Fernando Jr. Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking (The Hippocrene International Cookbook Library) (Kindle Locations 447-450). Kindle Edition. 

Susie Middleton's Fast, Fresh, and Green is another newcomer to Grandma's cookbook library.  Here's the book description and a sample recipe:

This new bible for all things vegetable from Fine Cooking's Vegetable Queen is ideal for the millions of eaters who want to get the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and greens into their daily diet. Susie Middleton shares her love of healthful, delicious veggies with a guide to shopping for and cooking delectable meatless meals, including such delights as Spinach with Shallots and Parmigiano and Roasted Eggplant, Bell Pepper, and Fresh Basil Salad. More than 100 recipes for appetizers, snacks, entrees, and side dishes, many of them vegan, make Fast, Fresh & Green an excellent resource for vegetarians and omnivores.

Corn Sauté with Chile and Lime 

This is one of my favorite recipes in the book. Use this recipe as a template and feel free to make substitutions. Instead of cilantro, use mint or basil (or a combination); replace the lime zest with lemon; or try a combination of ground cumin and coriander in place of the ancho chile powder. You could also use a little diced bell pepper in place of some of the onion, or add ½ tsp of minced serrano pepper to the onions. 
1½ CUPS/165 G SMALL-DICED YELLOW ONION (1 medium-large onion), preferably sweet
1 TSP KOSHER SALT, and more if needed
2 SLIGHTLY HEAPING CUPS/315 G FRESH CORN KERNELS (from 4 medium ears; see tip on page 67)
1 Melt 1 Tbsp of the butter with the olive oil in a 10-in/25-cm sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and ½ tsp of the salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Uncover, turn up the heat to medium, and sauté, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes more. 
2 Add the remaining 1 Tbsp butter, the corn kernels, and the remaining ½ tsp salt. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the corn is tender but still slightly toothy to the bite, 4 to 5 minutes. (It will begin to intensify in color, glisten, and be somewhat shrunken in size.) Add the chile powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the lime zest and remove the pan from the heat. Let the corn sauté sit undisturbed for 2 minutes. Stir again, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  
3 Season the sauté with a few generous grinds of pepper and a good squeeze of the lime. Stir in half of the cilantro. Let sit for another couple of minutes if you have time. Stir and season with more salt, pepper, or lime juice. Stir in the remaining cilantro just before serving. Serves 4 
Middleton, Susie; Fink, Ben (2010-04-28). Fast, Fresh, and Green (Kindle Locations 1324-1328). Chronicle Books. Kindle Edition. 

When Grandma first saw the listing for Fresh from the Farmers' Market: Year-Round Recipes for the Pick of the Crop she thought that the book was authored by kitchen guru Alice Waters.  Waters only wrote the introduction.  Janet Fletcher is the author.  One thing Grandma particularly likes is that the recipes in the book are divided up by what is in season.  Here's the description and a sample recipe:

Offering quality and prices that can't be beat, and emphasizing the enduring value of small local farms, farmers' markets are popping up all over the country. Acclaimed food writer Janet Fletcher and photographer Victoria Pearson bring the freshness and flavor of peak produce to the kitchen with Fresh from the Farmers' Market. The more than eighty easy and delicious recipes included here -- many but not all of them meatless -- are as perfect for family meals as for entertaining. Organized by season, Fresh from the Farmers' Market is for anyone who wants to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables at their peak of flavor.

Asparagus with soft-scrambled eggs 

Asparagus growers, like corn growers, say the best way to cook their vegetable is to put the water on to boil before you harvest. Asparagus quickly loses moisture and sugar after picking, so its flavor and texture are compromised. If you don’t grow your own, your next best option is to buy your asparagus at a farmers’ market where it likely was picked the day before. And if your market has an egg vendor selling fresh-laid eggs, you are in luck. Asparagus and eggs enhance each other, whether it’s a fried egg atop buttered asparagus; a soft-cooked egg cut open and used as a dipping sauce for asparagus tips; chopped eggs in the vinaigrette over boiled asparagus; or this combination of creamy soft-scrambled eggs over warm buttered tips. If you want to make the dish more dramatic, shave black truffle over each portion. 
Preheat oven to warm. Holding an asparagus spear in both hands, bend it gently; it will break naturally at the point at which the spear becomes tough. Repeat with remaining spears. Set the tender ends aside with all the tips pointing in the same direction; discard the tough ends. In a small bowl, beat eggs and cream together with a fork.  
In a large skillet, bring an inch of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus, keeping all the tips pointing in the same direction. Boil until just tender, about 2 minutes. Lift asparagus out with tongs and transfer to a clean dish towel. Pat dry. Drain skillet, return the asparagus to the skillet and toss gently with 1 tablespoon butter and salt to taste, taking care to keep the tips pointed in the same direction.  
Transfer asparagus to a serving platter and place in oven to keep warm. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in the top of a double boiler set over—not touching—barely simmering water. Add eggs and cook slowly, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula and scraping the sides of the bowl often. You want them to set in a creamy mass, without forming curds.  
When eggs begin to thicken and set, after 3 to 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper. When they are set but as soft and creamy as a thick béchamel sauce, stir in chives and remove from heat. Immediately spoon the eggs over the middle of the asparagus spears and serve on warm plates. 
Waters, Alice; Fletcher, Janet; Pearson, Victoria (1997-04-01). Fresh from the Farmers' Market: Year-Round Recipes for the Pick of the Crop (Kindle Locations 672-679). Chronicle Books. Kindle Edition. 

If you love history, as Grandma does, then The Pharaohs Kitchen : Recipes from Ancient Egypts Enduring Food Traditions might just be a book you would be interested in.  This would make a great resource for those studying Ancient Egypt.  Note that this is from Oxford University Press. Here's the description and a very doable recipe:

Judging from the evidence available from depictions of daily life on tombs and in historical texts, the ancient Egyptians were just as enthusiastic about good food and generous hospitality as are their descendants today. Magda Mehdawy and Amr Hussein have done extensive research on the cultivation, gathering, preparation, and presentation of food in ancient Egypt and have developed nearly a hundred recipes that will be perfectly recognizable to anyone familiar with modern Egyptian food. Beautifully illustrated with scenes from tomb reliefs, objects and artifacts in museum exhibits, and modern photographs, the recipes are accompanied by explanatory material that describes the ancient home and kitchen, cooking vessels and methods, table manners and etiquette, banquets, beverages, and ingredients. Traditional feasts and religious occasions with their own culinary traditions are described, including some that are still celebrated today. A glossary of ingredients and place names provides a useful guide to unfamiliar terms.


Serves 4–6
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp ghee
1/2 kg tomatoes, finely chopped
2 chilli peppers, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 eggs
1 tbsp chopped parsley  
1. Dice onion and garlic. Fry in ghee until golden.
2. Add tomatoes and peppers. Stir until tomatoes begin to dry. Pour in 1/2 cup of water and add the salt and pepper.
3. Pour the mixture into the serving plate. Make 6 small slots with a spoon and break an egg into each one.
4. Decorate with chopped parsley. Place in hot oven for 15 minutes. Serve. 
Mehdawy, Magda; Hussein, Amr (2010-05-15). The Pharaohs Kitchen : Recipes from Ancient Egypts Enduring Food Traditions (Kindle Locations 696-705). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition. 

Last, but hardly least is a great James Harriot read, All Things Wise and Wonderful.  Harriot is one of Grandma's all-time favorite authors, often funny, always engaging.  His books are just perfect for those "hurry up and wait" moments.  Maybe next month they'll have more of the set.

See All 100 $3.99 or Less Kindles for May


  1. I went back and forth on fresh green.. but you sold me:) I clicked from here to buy it, hope I did it right.


    1. Thanks! I went back and forth on that one myself Becky, but I had a little bit of a balance and I've been trying to get more green into my diet. I really liked the way that the author divided up the recipes by ways to cook them rather than putting all the carrots in one spot. Some things were old standbys in my kitchen - the Roasted Asparagus in particular - but others are new. I'm going to have fun with this one.


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