Originally created 02/22/06

Small bites



Food to die for

AVERY ISLAND, La.(AP) - Formally, "Food To Die For" is the title of a distinctive cookbook, newly announced as first-place winner of the 16th annual Tabasco Community Cookbook Awards.

The book, compiled by Jessica Beemis Ward, is subtitled "A Book of Funeral Food, Tips and Tales," and it's a project of the Southern Memorial Association to benefit the Old City Cemetery of Lynchburg, Va.

It's a sensitive combination of practical information, warmth, and even gentle humor, along with local, family and traditional recipes, seasoned with plenty of personal notes, anecdotes and social history. The book's design is elegantly apt: it's a ring-bound, black-covered paperback with evocative black-and-white photos, tombstone cutouts, and pages with subtly sooty edges.

The Old City Cemetery, founded in 1806, is a Virginia Historic Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places.

The community cookbook awards second-place winner is "Steamboat Season - A Medley of Recipes" from the Strings in the Mountains Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colo. "Creating Comfort," a cookbook celebrating comfort food, created by the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas, was third-place winner.

("Food To Die For," $25, is available by mail from Old City Cemetery, 401 Taylor St., Lynchburg VA 24501; by phone (434) 847-1465; by fax (434) 856-2004; or by e-mail from occ(at)gravegarden.org)

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Free tea-recipe cookbook offer

BOULDER, Colo. - Ten leading women chefs have each contributed a recipe using tea to a collection offered in a free, sturdy and colorful ring-bound booklet.

The recipe collection, "From Teapot To Table Top," includes information about types of teas - black, green, chai or white - as well as about heart health and tips for using tea.

The 10 recipes range from Moroccan spiced apricot chicken, created by Lisa Schroeder of Mother's Bistro & Bar, Portland, Ore., to red dress vanilla rose pound cake, from Emily Luchetti of San Francisco's Farallon Restaurant.

Tea manufacturer Celestial Seasonings, which is offering the booklet, says it has made a donation to WomenHeart, the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, in honor of each chef who contributed a recipe.

The book is available by calling toll-free (866) 211-0374.

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Mardi Gras spice is taste of the day

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Fat Tuesday, the culmination of Mardi Gras festivities, may reawaken a yen for New Orleans-style cooking whether you're a displaced Southerner or just enjoy the cuisine.

Many traditional recipes of the region, from a steaming bowl of gumbo to the perfect etouffee, call for a liberal use of herbs and spices. Here's a list of some seasonings to use at Mardi Gras or any day:

-Bay leaves: Use whole to add a pungent flavor to hearty dishes like red beans and rice and gumbo (remove whole leaves before serving).

-Black and white pepper: Come from the berries of the pepper plant. Black is hot with a slightly piney flavor, white is milder and more delicate, both are used liberally in Creole cooking.

-Cayenne pepper: Made from the dried pods of chili peppers, adds heat to red beans and rice, etouffee and jambalaya.

-Celery seed: Lends the slightly bitter flavor of fresh celery to any dish, used in most Creole seasoning blends.

-Garlic powder: Dehydrated, ground garlic adds the flavor of garlic, is conveniently dispersed for use in seasoning blends.

-Gumbo file: Dried, ground sassafras leaf, used to add flavor and as a thickener for gumbo.

-Onion powder: Dehydrated, ground onions used in Creole seasoning blends for meat and fish.

-Oregano: Used with meat, fish and vegetable dishes, oregano's pungent odor and flavor lend depth to meat and vegetable dishes.

-Sweet basil: Intensely fragrant and slightly sweet, basil can be added to any dish but is especially good with meat, cheese and eggs.

-Sweet paprika: A warming spice with a pungent flavor, great for fish and vegetable dishes, and remoulade sauce.

-Thyme: Found in most traditional Creole dishes, thyme is from the mint family and adds a slight minty flavor and subtle aroma to gumbos and etouffee.

(Source: The Spice Hunter, on the Web at:

http://www.spicehunter.com.

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Betty Crocker focuses on brides

HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) - A classic cookbook dresses up for the wedding, with a bridal edition designed for a place on newlyweds' kitchen-library shelves.

"Betty Crocker Cookbook, Bridal Edition" (2006, $29.95) is a specially designated version of the cookbook's current 10th edition, less utilitarian in format, and not ring-bound.

It wears a pastel, flower-strewn cover; a bonus front section packed with advice for new housekeepers also sports a few spring-blossom bouquets on its pages. There are little card-size space for inscriptions and notes, too, suggesting a keepsake function.

The rest of the volume features the conventional all-purpose cookbook benefits: loads of advice, helpful color illustrations and, of course, recipes - at least 1,000, covering every meal or snack, to make at any time of day, for family or entertaining. Included in the bonus section are menus for a bridal shower lunch and suggestions for when the in-laws come to dinner.