Hello. My name is Kim and I am a cookbook-aholic. I’ve flagged more cookbook recipes than would be humanly possible to make in a single lifetime. Yet my obsession with acquiring new and old cookbooks persists unabated. This month I share my compulsive tendencies via the “21 Days” series, featuring some of my favorite cookbooks from local authors and publishers. Please feel free to join me in finding new cookbooks to feed our passion at any of my favorite Triangle indie book sellers: The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh or McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village.
2012 was a good year for local cookbooks. It was the start of a series of ingredient-themed small format cookbooks from UNC Press’ “Savor the South” series. One of the first two books released focused on America’s native tree nut, the pecan. The book’s author, Kathleen Purvis (food editor of the Charlotte Observer) shares her fondness for (and some humorous stories about) pecans, as well as tips on cracking and storing those precious nuts.
The cookbook features about fifty recipes for using pecans at various occasions, in appetizers and party foods, main dishes, salads and sides dishes, and of course in desserts. As Purvis points out, pecans pair well with cheeses, butter, honey, oranges, strawberries and bourbon (another of her books is all about that traditional Southern spirit). The first chapter of recipes includes one party food recipe I’m particularly fond of, Sweet Heat Sriracha Pecans (page 16, pictured above). It’s a simple recipe with just five ingredients that packs a big punch and satisfies all sorts of cravings at once: crunchy, spicy, sweet and salty. The recipe notes that the pecans can be stored in an airtight container for up to five days. But take those nuts to a party and I doubt they’ll last five minutes.
The next two chapters focus on main dishes and sides that utilize the versatile pecan. They’re toasted and tossed in a Fruity, Nutty Chicken Salad. They can be a pine nut substitute in pesto that’s an ingredient in the Shrimp and Farfalle with Pecan Pesto or they can be ground and used to crust fish in the Pecan-Crusted Grouper main dish. In the Spring we all enjoy a Strawberry Spinach Salad with a few pecans tossed in the mix. Come Thanksgiving, I’m going to be trying the Bourbon-Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans. Just about anytime of year would be perfect for Roasted Broccoli with Browned Butter Pecan Sauce.
The final chapter focuses on the sweet tooth and includes four variations on the classic pecan pie. You’ll find recipes for all sorts of cookies, cakes and candies using pecans, like Pecan Lace Cookies, Pecan Pralines and Leche Quemada. As I do with most any new cookbook, I stick little flags to each recipe I want to try as I’m scanning through the recipes for the first time. However, for the dessert chapter I ended up flagging them all. I just have to figure one which I want to make next, maybe the Cinnamon-Pecan Coffee Cake… or those Coconut-Pecan Dessert Bars.
Which would you make first? Do you own the book and if you do which recipe(s) is/are your favorite?