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By April 29, 2020 No Comments

Kitchen Helpers

By Meda Kessler
Photos by Aaron Dougherty

We count on the classics in good times, and in bad

While we love experimenting with exotic dishes from modern cookbooks, we’ve found ourselves turning to familiar favorites these past months. They are constants on our kitchen bookshelf, dog-eared and stained, with loose pages hanging on for their lives. Classics include Helen Corbitt’s Cookbook (Stanley Marcus convinced her to head up Neiman’s food services) and Joy of Cooking. We also have a stash of well-used Junior League cookbooks from around the country, sourced from puttering around kitchenware stores on our travels. The Silver Palate Cookbook, which came out in 1982 just in time for Mother’s Day, helped us host many a post-college dinner party as we were honing our skills in the home kitchen. The spinach-feta phyllo triangles and chicken Marbella (a daring dish for its use of prunes and olives) and still never fail to impress. With warm weather imminent, we look forward to the chilled goodness of Silver Palate’s seafood gazpacho. Local cookbook authors also have a place in our kitchen. Debbie Meyer-Gore’s Good Friends, Great Tastes remains a go-to for easy-to-prepare dinners that fit almost any occasion. And The Kimbell Cookbook by Shelby Schafer keeps us coming back for more. Schafer hung up her apron after manning the tiny kitchen for more than 35 years at the Fort Worth museum, but her legacy will live on thanks to cooking tips and no-nonsense recipes for dishes such as her crustless spinach quiche.

Crustless Spinach Quiche

Serves 6

  • 10 cups fresh, trimmed spinach leaves, lightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried dill
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or cheese of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted fresh breadcrumbs (we’ve also used
    store-bought panko)
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (add more if desired)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat 9- or 10-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place spinach leaves in large saute pan with 1 teaspoon water. Cook over low heat, stirring as spinach wilts. Drain thoroughly and squeeze to remove all excess liquid. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute for 5 more minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, dill, lemon zest, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the chopped spinach, shallot mixture and Monterey Jack cheese. Pour mixture into pie pan and sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden on top. Allow quiche to stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

You won’t miss the crust thanks to the slightly crispy top created by the cheese and breadcrumbs.

The Silver Palate Cookbook elevates this summer classic with crabmeat. Add shrimp if you really want to make an impression.

Seafood Gazpacho

Serves 10

  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 jalapenos, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 5 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 5 cups tomato juice
  • ½ cup lime juice (4 limes)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced or diced

Combine breadcrumbs and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add tomato juice and lime juice. Stir to combine. Add breadcrumb mixture and oil. Stir to combine.

Puree half of the soup in a food processor or blender. Pour puree back into original mixture.

Season with cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate.

To serve, stir in crab and top with avocado.