Joanna McQuillan Weeks: Updated cookbook is worthy of joining the classics
Like many of you, I have more cookbooks on my shelves than I actually consult, at least on a regular basis.
Some are one-subject cookbooks, say, on apples. Others are books of ethnic cuisines that aren't in my regular repertoire, but may come in handy someday if a reader asks about moussaka or preserved lemons, for example.
There are bread-baking books, cookie books, seafood books, community fundraising books. Some have a tinge of nostalgia about them, like Peg Bracken's "I Hate to Cook Book" and "Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes," volumes one and two, which I associate with my late mother.
Some I've never really studied. Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of Cooking" is one. Someone handed down their copy and it sits on the shelf, more as a talisman than a useful resource. It definitely is a monument to encyclopedic cookbooks.
There are cookbooks I keep around because they have a handful of recipes I actually make. My sister Mary Anne would say I should scan the useful recipes and get rid of the book.
But there are foundation cookbooks — I call them kitchen bibles — that I can't imagine doing without. "The Fannie Farmer Cook Book" is one. I have the 1979 edition revamped by Marion Cunningham, and a paperback edition from the '60s. The latter has a recipe for a barbecue sauce that is on the thin side, sharp with vinegar, sparked with celery seeds and not too sweet. That's that one Mom used to make, and Cunningham went and changed it when she edited "Fannie." I was very happy to find that paperback copy in a used bookstore so I could recover that flavor of my childhood.
"The New Doubleday Cookbook" by Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna is my "go-to" for the basics, and "The Joy of Cooking" by Irma Rombauer used to be.
The one that never was in my childhood kitchen, or so far in mine, is "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book" in the distinctive red-and-white plaid cover. The 16th edition hit my desk last week. The comb-bound book (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $21.99) boasts more than 1,200 recipes and 1,000-plus photographs.
The book covers all the basic techniques a beginning cook needs to know, and has plenty to keep experienced ones intrigued. There are "8 to try" features, such as various fillings for an omelet, or different styles of candy bark. Chimichurri Shrimp Spring Rolls is just one of the fresh ideas among the recipes. The steps of some recipes are helpfully illustrated with small photos.
The book's type is a little small for my eyes, but that's the only way to cram so much into a book of a manageable size. All in all, it's a worthy addition to the cookbook shelf.
With the Super Bowl coming up, you're likely to make a batch of that party standard, chili.
Just to change things up, you could try this variation. It can easily be doubled if you're inviting a crowd.
Southwestern White Chili
Makes eight main-dish servings.
From "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book."
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 4.5-ounce cans diced green chilies or chopped jalapeno peppers
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (1 pound)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces)
Sour cream (optional)
Canned diced green chilies or chopped jalapeno peppers (optional)
In a large pot, cook onion and garlic in hot oil until onion is tender.Stir in cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add one can of beans to the pot; mash with a potato masher or fork. Stir in remaining beans, chicken broth, and the two cans chiles. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken; heat through.Ladley chili into bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 cup cheese. If desired, top with sour cream and additional canned chilies.Nutrition analysis per 1 cup serving: 471 calories, 16 grams total fat (7 grams saturated fat), 76 milligrams cholesterol, 488 grams sodium, 43 grams carbs, 9 grams fiber, 38 grams protein. Exchanges: 3 starch, 3 lean meat, 1/2 fatEditor's note: Substitute canned cannellini beans if you can't find canned Great Northerns.
Joanna McQuillan Weeks is food editor of The Standard-Times in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaWeeksSCT