Tasty Treats

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Tasty Treats

Cookbooks to delight and inspire

There are only certain times of year that I feel a desire to bake.  I don’t cook – that’s what the Food Network and family members are for - but now that summer is approaching, the urge for munchies sets in. If you think I’m the only one, check out this recent article in the Washington Post.

Good baking is really an art; just imagine a lovely dessert showcase and you'll know what I'm talking about. I first learned to bake with a Betty Crocker cookbook. Times have changed though, and if you're looking for some different fare, then here are some books to try:

Take Nigella Lawson's cookbooks for example; readers who are intimidated by culinary perfection will enjoy Lawson’s sensual approach to food. With an earthy, playful tone, Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast is a great place to start. Look at the Doughnut French Toast on page 188 - would that not make you want to get out of bed in the morning?

For those who are willing to muster a bit more enthusiasm, try Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes. Martha’s books are always a foodie’s delight with their beautiful pictures, but this text is a relatively easy read. Don’t ask me for a favorite recipe, because there is no way I could choose. Instead, what I really enjoyed about this cookbook was its range: full of creative, awe-inspiring creations, this book will have you out running to Sur la Table in no time.

Pies should also be on your to-do list as the weather grows warmer. Topped with ice cream, pie is the best way to make use of fresh fruit. Two texts that I have enjoyed lately are Crazy About Pies by Krystina Castella and Pie Love by Warren Brown. Crazy About Pies includes a useful introduction to the art of making pies. From different types of flavor to how to best bake the crust, this cookbook offers information that will appeal to both first time cooks and seasoned professionals.  Pie Love goes further with in-depth coverage of how to create different types of pie crusts. I was especially intrigued by the recipe for Peach Pie on page 83, but the fun aspect about this text is that it really encourages every cook to experiment with different tastes and textures.

Cookies, on the other hand, make the world go round – this is a fact and not open to debate! I adore Alice Medrich’s text Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy. The title alone says it all, but if you must open this text, then I dare you not to find at least one recipe to try! With tantalizing ingredient suggestions, this book promises to win over the most hardened of critics.

As with any discussion of dessert, I would be remiss to not include the perennial crowd pleaser: ice cream. Although it does not involve baking per se, it’s so fun to eat, how could I not include it? Try your hand at the next flavorful concoction with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. From terrines to sundaes, Bauer’s text is a delight of cool whimsy. Another cool delight, People’s Pops by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell and Joel Horowitz might just bring out the hidden gourmet in you with mouth watering but unusual ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Try the apricot and orange blossom recipe for an ice pop on page 57; it sounds quirky but might make you head to the kitchen to make it for your friends or family.

To think there are so many recipes but so little time! While I may continue to be an armchair cook by living vicariously through others' creations, you don’t have to.  Just don’t forget to send me a bite!