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Thomas Keller’s Omelette Soufflé


Thomas Keller created this recipe as part of his alliance with All-Clad. As one would expect from a top American chef, the combinations are delicious, including dark rum and chopped pears. He also has an interesting approach to serving this dish. We think it would be a delicious option for Easter brunch.

Thomas Keller’s Omelette Soufflé

Fragrant with rum-soaked dried pear, this is a special-occasion omelet.

Fragrant with rum-soaked dried pear, this is a special-occasion dish.

1/3 cup 1/2-inch diced dried pears or other dried fruit
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
Pinch of coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter
Powdered sugar in a shaker or fine mesh strainer

Directions:
Soak the pears in the rum for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack in the center of the oven.

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl with the salt.

Whisk in the milk a tablespoon at a time, to keep the batter smooth.

Whisk in 1 tablespoon of sugar to combine. Whisk in the egg yolks. Drain the pears and add any rum that has not been absorbed by the fruit to the batter.

Whisk the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until they foam. Whisk in 1/3 of the remaining sugar until the whites begin to hold a form. Add another 1/3 of the sugar and continue to whisk to hold a bit more of a shape and then whisk in the remaining sugar until the whites are shiny and hold a firmer shape. Do not over whisk the whites, they should be glossy and hold a shape but over-whisking can cause them to break down.

Gently stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to combine and lighten the batter. Fold the remaining whites into the batter.

Place the butter in the (All-Clad) Copper-Core 8-inch fry pan or other stovetop-to-oven pan over medium high heat until the butter is a rich golden brown. Remove pan from the heat. Pour half the batter into the pan, sprinkle with the pears and top with the remaining batter. Place back over the heat and cook for about 1 minute. The sides will brown slightly, and just begin to set and rise.

Place the fry pan onto a baking sheet and into the oven. Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes. The surface should be a rich golden brown and firm to the touch. The center of the soufflé should remain slightly soft.

Dust the top of the soufflé with powdered sugar and serve directly from the pan or invert the soufflé out onto a plate and dust with powdered sugar. Use a spoon and a fork to pull the soufflé apart into irregular pieces and serve immediately.

Serves 4

From chef Thomas Keller

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Pickled Radishes


Do you love the bite that radishes bring to dishes? Here’s an easy pickled version from celebrated chef Thomas Keller that will add a welcome kick to most any meal.

“Our basic pickling liquid is 2 parts vinegar to 1 part sugar to 1 part water; it can be scaled up easily for larger quantities of vegetables,” writes Thomas Keller in “Ad Hoc at Home.” It can be used with baby leeks, green beans, cauliflower, carrots and garlic, among other vegetables.

Pickled Radishes

Basic Pickling Liquid (recipe follows)
1 cup icicle radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal, or red radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced (see note)

Basic Pickling Liquid

1/2 cup Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

Combine vinegar, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator.

Put the radishes in a canning jar or other storage container and pour the pickling liquid over them. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Note: If using red radishes, expect the color to run.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

From “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

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Il Sogno to Host CIA Board, Star Chef/Restaurateurs


Il Sogno will host a CIA meeting Wednesday.

Il Sogno Osteria will be closed to the public because of a private dinner Wednesday.

Chef/owner Andrew Weissman says that the CIA Board of Trustees will be dining there that evening.

Expected to be among the 70 or so people at the contemporary Italian restaurant in the Pearl Brewery will be three nationally high-profile chef/restaurateurs: Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s and Charlie Palmer, who has a collection of eponymous restaurants.

“I’ve eaten at the French Laundry (Keller’s famous Napa, Calif. restaurant) five times,” Weissman said. “This is the first time I will get to cook for him.”

Weissman sent the news out on Twitter Friday afternoon:  “Just confirmed, will be cooking for Thomas Keller, Charlie Palmer and Roy Yamaguchi next week. #excitedashell

Il Sogno is at the Pearl, at 200 E. Grayson St.

 

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Local Chef Headed for French Laundry


Robbie Nowlin, chef de cuisine at the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, will soon be working at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. The restaurant, under the direction of chef Thomas Keller, has been hailed by many publications as the finest in the country.

Nowlin, who grew up in nearby Fairfield, Calif., will be Keller’s chef de partie, which places him in charge of the ingredient preparation for the restaurant.

Robbie Nowlin

“It’s awesome,” he said of the news, adding that he’s “nervous” as well as excited.

In culinary circles, Keller is held in the same respect that Michael Jordan is among sports fans, Nowlin said, and he’s been a Keller fan for years now.

If Nowlin’s name is familiar to local foodies, it’s because he won the Chaine des Rotissuers competition for best young chef three years in a row. He started working in professional kitchens at age 14 and discovered his passion for cooking. He attended St. Philip’s College and went to work for Damien Watel of Bistro Vatel for three and one-half years before moving to work for Jason Dady at the Lodge more than six years. He started as chef de partie, the same job he will take on at the French Laundry.

The title may be the same but the duties are much different. For starters, Nowlin will have three commis, or apprentices, working under him in a kitchen with 30 cooks. “It’s definitely bigger,” Nowlin said with a chuckle thinking about the size of the two kitchens.

“Also, chef de partie is obviously a step down from chef de cuisine … but well worth stepping down in rank to work at the best restaurant in the country if not the world,” he said.

He will be moving with his 6-month-old son and fiancée about two weeks before he begins work on April 18. He will remain at the Lodge until then.

“We are all very excited for him,” Dady said. “What an awesome opportunity for him!”

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Leek Bread Pudding


Fresh leeks

“Just as custards work well in the savory portion of the meal, although they’re more often served as a dessert, so do bread puddings,” writes Thomas Keller in “Ad Hoc at Home” (Artisan, $50).

It would go well with Thanksgiving dinner, prime rib or roasted duck breasts. “Or top it with oven-roasted tomatoes and serve it as a vegetarian meal,” he writes.

Leek Bread Pudding

2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)
Kosher salt, to taste
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless brioche or Pullman sandwich loaf
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
3 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup shredded Comté or Emmentaler cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of tepid water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will released liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid (see note) and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.

Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about walkway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.

Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, the add the chives and thyme.

Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup of cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks up the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.

Add the remaining custard mixture, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.

Note: To make a parchment lid, fold a large rectangular piece of parchment paper in half to give you a square bigger than the pot to be covered. beginning at the crease, fold over the edge to create a narrow triangle. Continue to fold the triangle over until you have reached the opposite side of the parchment paper.

To gauge the size, place the tip over the center of the spot to be covered and mark the edges of the pot with your thumb, then cut the end off there. With a pair of scissors, cut 1/4 inch off the narrow tip of the triangle. Trim the pointed edges of the triangle to form a smooth rounded edge. Unfold the triangle. It will be a circle the size of your pot with a steam hole in the center. Put the paper lid in the pot so that it rests gently on the food you’re cooking.

Makes 12 side dish servings or 6-8 main dish servings.

From “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

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Get Out Your Wooden Spoon and Whip Up Some Coffee Ice Cream


I remember my mother using the same wooden spoons day in and day out in her baking or in general home cooking. They were all-purpose tools that she would use to stir the fruit for a pie filling or a beef stew. They would scrape bowls clean. They would withstand heat or cold. They were also used to measure ingredients, as she knew just how shortening or sugar much would fit at the end of the spoon.

I don’t know what wood those spoons were made from, but I do know they were indestructible. Mom still uses them decades later, preferring them to some of the silicone tools she’s been given in recent years.

Celebrated chef Thomas Keller seems to know the same secret. He recommends using a wooden spoon to stir up the custard for this decadent coffee ice cream.

Coffee Ice Cream

3 tablespoons coffee beans
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided use
10 large egg yolks
Pinch of kosher salt

Using the bottom of a heavy pot or a rolling pin, lightly crush the coffee beans, splitting each one into 2 or 3 pieces. Pour the milk and cream into a large sauce pan, add the coffee beans and 1/2 cup of the sugar, and bring to just under a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar; a skin will form on top and the liquid should just begin to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep, uncovered for 1 hour.

Return the pan to the heat and heat until the milk is just below a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar and the yolks in a  bowl until slightly thickened and the whisk leaves a trail. Slowly, while whisking, add about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the yolks, then whisk in the remaining milk mixture. Set a fine-mesh basket strainer over a clean saucepan and strain the liquid into the pan; discard the coffee beans.

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Set a medium bowl in the ice bath have a strainer ready.

Put the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom and sides often with a wooden spoon, until steam begins to rise from the surface and the custard thickens enough to coat the spoon. Strain into the bowl, add the salt and let cool, stirring from time to time.

Refrigerate until cold or, preferably, overnight.

Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the texture is “soft serve,” transfer to a storage container and freeze to harden. (The ice cream is best eaten within a day, but can be made several days ahead.)

Makes a generous 1 quart.

From “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

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Beard Overlooks San Antonio


The nominees for this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards were announced Monday, and no one from San Antonio was among the nominees. It was the first time in years that one of the city’s best chefs had not made the list.

The nominees for best chef in the Southwest included only one Texan, first-time nominee Bryan Caswell of Reef in Houston. Other nominees included Ryan Hardy of Montagna at Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., as well as Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam, Claude Le Tohic of Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand Hotel and Rick Moonen of RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, all of Las Vegas.

There was a name with a local connection on the list. Culinary Institute of America president Tim Ryan, who has visited the San Antonio campus on numerous occasions, was nominated for the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America award. He is in charge of the schools three campuses, including Hyde Park, N.Y., and Greystone, Calif., in addition to San Antonio.

SavorSA has written about several of the cookbooks that have been nominated. The list includes:

For a full list of the nominees, click here. Winners will be announced May 2.

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A Creamy Dessert That’ll Leave You Weak in the Knees


Panna cotta, which is Italian for “cooked cream,” is one of those desserts that cooks either get so right you want to play kiss the chef or so wrong that you want to deliver a swift kick.

There is no in-between. I’ve had versions ruined with the likes of grana padano cheese, rosemary and pistachios, which destroyed both texture and flavor. I’ve also ruined one or two myself by using too much gelatin. The end result was more like Cream Jell-O rather than a dessert that can be a form of culinary seduction.

I was surprised to discover just how easy Thomas Keller’s version was in “Ad Hoc at Home.” The celebrated chef, who also owns the French Laundry, didn’t dress his panna cotta up, except by using sour cream, buttermilk and crème fraîche to give it a tangy taste.

His version doesn’t really “cook” too much, which is fine. Just don’t expect to up-end this version onto a serving plate. It’s better to use a martini glass or a special bowl for each serving.

As Keller says, “Panna cotta can be served plain or enhanced with a compote or a sauce.” And I’ve included my own at the end.

Panna Cotta

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered, unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon water
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk or 1/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream

Put the gelatin in a small cup and add the water. Let stand for about 5 minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of the mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring, just to warm. Add the softened gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers; it should not feel gritty. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes; then stir the gelatin mixture into the sour cream mixture.

Whip the crème fraîche in a mixer until it thickens and holds a shape. Fold in the sour cream mixture, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Spoon into six 4- to 5-ounce martini glasses, ramekins or bowls. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or up to 2 days.

Top with your favorite sauce. For one variation, see below.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

Blueberry Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sweet wine, red or white
1/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
About 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat, but don’t let it burn. Add white and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then reduce by half. Add blueberries, a generous squeeze of juice from a lemon, a pinch of salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

From John Griffin

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken From Thomas Keller


Deep fried fast food, spring chicken in golden lemon batter“If there’s a better fried chicken, I haven’t tasted it,” Thomas Keller writes in “Ad Hoc at Home.” “First, and critically, the chicken is brined for 12 hours in a herb-lemon brine, which seasons the meat and helps it stay juicy. The flour is seasoned with garlic and onion powders, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. The chicken is dredged in the seasoned flour, dipped in buttermilk, and then dredged again in the flour. The crust becomes almost feathered and is very crisp.”

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Two 2 1/2- to 3-pound chickens (see Note on Chicken Size)
Chicken Brine (recipe follows), cold

For dredging and frying:
Peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
1 quart buttermilk
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Coating:
6 cups flour
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Ground fleur de sel or fine sea salt
Rosemary sprigs, for garnish
Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Cut each chicken into 10 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breast quarters, and 2 wings. Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken pieces, add in the chicken, and refrigerate for 12 hours (no longer, or the chicken may become too salty).

Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine) and rinse under cold water, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towels, or let air-dry. Let rest at room temperature for 1-1/2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.

If you have two large pots (about 6 inches deep) and a lot of oil, you can cook the dark and white meat at the same time; if not, cook the dark meat first, then turn up the heat and cook the white meat. No matter what size pot you have, the oil should not come more than one-third of the way up the sides of the pot. Fill the pot with at least 2 inches of peanut oil and heat to 320 degrees. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.

For coating: Combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Transfer half the coating to a second large bowl. Pour the buttermilk into a third bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set up a dipping station: the chicken pieces, one bowl of coating, the bowl of buttermilk, the second bowl of coating, and the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Just before frying, dip the chicken thighs into the first bowl of coating, turning to coat and patting off the excess; dip them into the buttermilk, allowing the excess to run back into the bowl; then dip them into the second bowl of coating. Transfer to the parchment-lined pan.

Carefully lower the thighs into the hot oil. Adjust the heat as necessary to return the oil to the proper temperature. Fry for 2 minutes, then carefully move the chicken pieces around in the oil and continue to fry, monitoring the oil temperature and turning the pieces as necessary for even cooking, for 11 to 12 minutes, until the chicken is a deep golden brown, cooked through, and very crisp. Meanwhile, coat the chicken drumsticks and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Transfer the cooked thighs to the cooling rack skin-side-up and let rest while you fry the remaining chicken. (Putting the pieces skin-side-up will allow excess fat to drain, whereas leaving them skin-side-down could trap some of the fat.) Make sure that the oil is at the correct temperature, and cook the chicken drumsticks. When the drumsticks are done, lean them meat-side-up against the thighs to drain, then sprinkle the chicken with fine sea salt.

Turn up the heat and heat the oil to 340 degrees. Meanwhile, coat the chicken breasts and wings. Carefully lower the chicken breasts into the hot oil and fry for 7 minutes, or until golden brown, cooked through, and crisp. Transfer to the rack, sprinkle with salt, and turn skin side up. Cook the wings for 6 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the wings to the rack and turn off the heat. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter. Add the herb sprigs to the oil (which will still be hot) and let them cook and crisp for a few seconds, then arrange them over the chicken.

Note on chicken size: You may need to go to a farmers’ market to get these small chickens. Grocery store chickens often run 3 to 4 pounds, or more. They can, of course, be used in this recipe but if chickens in the 2-1/2- to 3-pound range are available to you, they’re worth seeking out. They’re a little easier to cook properly at the temperatures we recommend here and, most important, pieces this size result in the optimal meat-to-crust proportion, which is such an important part of the pleasure of fried chicken.

Note: We let the chicken rest for 7 to 10 minutes after it comes out of the fryer so that it has a chance to cool down. If the chicken has rested for longer than 10 minutes, put the tray of chicken in a 400 degrees oven for 1 or 2 minutes to ensure that the crust is crisp and the chicken is hot.

Chicken Brine

5 lemons, halved
24 bay leaves
1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch (1 ounce) thyme
1/2 cup clover honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
3/4 cup black peppercorns
2 cups (10 ounces) kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
2 gallons water

[amazon-product]1579653774[/amazon-product]The key ingredient here is the lemon, which goes wonderfully with chicken, as do the herbs: bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. This amount of brine will be enough for 10 pounds.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

(photo: Rob Owen-Wahl)

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10 Cookbooks That Make Great Gifts


CookbookGifts

The past year has been a good one for cookbook lovers, with dozens of new titles covering every topic from opulent cocktails to special desserts. Here are 10 choices in no particular order that would make great gifts to various people on your holiday shopping list:

1. “La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy” (Rizzoli, $45)  – Fifty years ago, a group of Italians known as the Accademia Italiana Della Cucina decided to collect recipes from throughout their home country. The recipes were gathered region by region, and the project was only completed in 2001. It took eight years, but this encyclopedic approach to the country’s culinary riches is finally available in English. The end result can be richly rewarding for those who are not slaves to a recipe, as some need finessing (too little water here, too much spice there). Yet the compilation is exhaustive, exhilarating and an exciting new way to view Italian cuisine.

2. “I Know How to Cook” by Ginette Mathiot (Phaidon, $45) – The success of “Julie & Julia” has turned the spotlight on Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” But don’t overlook this French volume, first printed in 1932 and now available in English for the first time. More than 6 million copies have sold in its home country, and it’s easy to see why. It’s clear and concise. Yes, editors have updated the work, making the 1,400 recipes more direct without losing their Gallic charm. Soon, you’ll be saying “Je suis cuisiner” (“I know how to cook”), too.

3. “Pastry Queen Parties: Entertaining Friends and Family, Texas Style” by Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman (Random House, $32.50) – Who can resist a cookbook with a recipe for something called Peach Daiquiri Likkercicles? Fredericksburg pastry chef Rebecca Rather offers recipes for six Texas-style parties ranging from San Antonio Fiesta (of course) to Gulf Coast Beach Bash. Nothing pretentious here, and many of the recipes use home-grown recipes, such as Honey-Lavender Rack of Lamb.

4. “The Craft of Baking: Cakes, Cookies and Other Sweets With Ideas for Inventing Your Own” by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox (Clarkson Potter, $35) – DeMasco, Tom Colicchio’s former pastry chef, uses seasonal ingredients to create an array of spectacular desserts. She also tells you how to adapt your recipe to what’s in season, so a Rhubarb Rose Cobbler becomes a Mixed Berry Cobbler as the seasons change. The list of must-bake recipes just keeps growing as you leaf past the likes of Pine Nut Tart With Rosemary Cream, Pumpkin Seed Brittle and Raspberry Granola Bars.

5. “America’s Most Wanted Recipes” by Ron Douglas (Simon and Schuster, $15) – Ever wanted to make Olive Garden’s salad dressing in your own home? Or Johnny Carino’s Five Cheese Chicken Fettuccine? Copycat versions of all your favorites are here, including Red Lobster’s Cheddar Biscuits and Luby’s Spaghetti Salad. There are no pictures in this affordable paperback. But who needs pictures? You’ve had the dishes enough at each of these chain restaurants to know what it looks like. The recipes are no presented in a no-nonsense way that makes each easy to replicate in your own home.

6. “The Conscious Cook” by Tal Ronnen (William Morrow, $29.99) – This vegan chef has taken a familial approach to his cookbook, inviting fellow vegan chefs to join him in creating a surprisingly varied array of dishes. He starts with the basics, including a section on cashew cream, which he swears “makes it easy to live without dairy.” He then moves on to small plates, salads, soups, sandwiches, entrées and desserts. Even meat-eaters could like Paella With “Sausage,” Nori-dusted Oyster Mushrooms and Wine-braised Artichoke Hearts or Cajun Portobello Sandwich with Avocado and Rémoulade.

7. “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller (Artisan, $50) – The chef/owner of the French Laundry goes for more accessible fare at his home-style restaurant, Ad Hoc. By accessible, we mean Buttermilk Fried Chicken and chicken pot pie. Those who were put off by the tortured, laborious recipes Keller presented in his overwrought “French Laundry Cookbook” will be surprised by the warmth and down-home style here. “Ad Hoc at Home” is still a large, coffee table-sized book that won’t fit into many small kitchens easily, but the recipes will leave you hungry for more.

8.  “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method” by Jim Leahy (W.W. Norton & Company, $29.95) – If you’ve always wanted to make bread but haven’t trusted yourself around yeast or the controversy about kneading (too much vs. too little), then this book is for you. Leahy mixes flour, yeast, salt and water together quickly, then leaves the mixture alone for 12 hours before baking it in a Dutch oven. That’s it. And people swear by the results. Once he finishes the basics, Leahy takes cooks on through a series of breads as well as pizza dough.

9. “Foods and Flavors of San Antonio” by Gloria Chadwick (Pelican Publishing, $19.95) – Want to send a taste of home to some friends who live far away? Check out this cookbook, which is a savory mix of traditional Alamo City classics presented alongside some colorful variations, such as Chipotle Salmon to Apple Enchiladas. Chadwick also offers some good information on the city’s cultural traditions and attractions, making it a keepsake for locals and tourists alike.

10. “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” by Ree Drummond (William Morrow, $27.50) – Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond (thepioneerwoman.com) welcomes you to her culinary frontier, where home cooking is prized by all. Recipes for Cowboy Calzone, Tomato-Basil Pizza and Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes are all accompanied by step-by-step photographs, so you can cook to your heart’s content with assurance. From Spicy Pulled Pork to Patsy’s Blackberry Cobbler, this is an Oklahoma answer to Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home.”

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