Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oyster hummus is one holiday temptation

Get cooking for the holidays with ideas from these books:

“Taste of Treme: Creole, Cajun and Soul Food from New Orleans’s Famous Neighborhood of Jazz,” By Todd-Michael St. Pierre — Some folks still aren’t familiar with Treme, the New Orleans neighborhood bording North Rampart to North Claiborne and Orleans Avenue to St. Bernard Avenue. This is a beautiful book with photos and recipes that will put you in NOLA with some strong coffee, andouille, muffuletta, oysters and whatever else you crave. I love every page. Here’s a blend that goes with just about anything in the book:

Suck da Heads and Pinch da Tails Creole Spice
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons smoked paprika
3 tablespoons salt
Combine all the ingredients in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for an extended shelf life for up to 1 year.

The Blississippi (Frosty Mochas)
1 cup hot coffee
6 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
1 cup cold coffee
Combine hot coffee and chocolate syrup in a blender, and blend until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add the ice crem and the cold coffee. Blend until smooth. Pour into tall glasses and serve immediately.

“Duncan Hines Complete Cake Mix Magic: 300 Easy Desserts Good as Homemade,” by Jill Snider – Peachy Angel Dessert has you whip up an angel food cake and get layers of cream cheese, icing, whipping cream, peach schnapps and pie filling on top. What a stunning display in stemmed glasses. Devil’s food cake becomes chocolate banana muffins and white cake mix becomes cookies. Make pudding cream frosting by beating flavored instant pudding mix and milk, and folding in whipped cream. Go banana, vanilla, pistachio, chocolate, lemon or butterscotch.
Lemon Zucchini Cake
1 package lemon cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In large mixer bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, zucchini oil and water. Beat on low speed for one minute to blend, then on medium speed two minutes. Spread batter in prepared 13- by 9-inch pan, greased. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. For a variation, add dried cranberries or raisins to the batter.

“250 Best Beans, Lentils & Tofu Recipes,” a Robert Rose book of Healthy, Wholesome Foods – My mother was skeptical when I invited her for lentil stew. She left a believer. Cool weather is the season for a book like this of hearty fare, and I love that beans and lentils are so good for you and so inexpensive. Make them a staple in your pantry, because they look so beautiful in glass jars. Recipes in this book include Lentil Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pistachios, Cheater’s Cassoulet, Not Too-Corny Turkey Chili with Sausage and Beer-Braised Chili. I love smoked oysters for the holidays, and I made a pate with them and cream cheese. The following version will be much more calorie-friendly:

Smoked Oyster Hummus
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large roasted red pepper
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1 can smoked oysters, drained
Freshly ground black pepper
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted pepper, garlic and salt until smooth, stopping and scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add oysters and pulse just to chop and combine, about 5 times. Season with pepper to taste. Serve with pita bread, pita toasts or crudités.

“Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds” by Denise Vivaldo is a Robert Rose title with more than 1,000 photos for guidance. I’m thinking young teens would love to get this hardback spiral as gift to inspire years of future hosting. Clamshell, Elf Boot and Luna Moth are in the advanced section. I think I can master a trifold, tray roll and rosebud in no time. Ample photos make it easy to adapt the offered ideas and to make them your own. Some holiday tips: add a flower or seasonal twig for extra flair. This book is a great way to get the whole family involved in entertaining family and friends.

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