| Nashville Tennessean
With more people cooking at home due to COVID-19, cookbooks seem the ideal gift this holiday season.
“Cookbooks make a great gift,” said Karen Hayes, co-owner of Parnassus Books, which carries more than 650 cookbook titles, including a shelf full by local authors. “It is a solid category all year, but goes up big during the holidays.”
Here are some cookbooks from local authors. All but one are available at Parnassus.
“Skillet Love, From Steak to Cake: More than 150 Recipes in One Cast-Iron Pan,” by Anne Byrn. Grand Central Publishing, $30
Nashville native Byrn shows readers the versatility of a cast iron skillet for almost any kind of cooking — searing, stir frying, baking, caramelizing, grilling and even dry roasting. She offers tips on how to clean and care for these old-fashioned gems.
In her introduction, she says, “no matter the kitchen and no matter the occasion, my skillet fit in, segueing from anniversary dinners of seared salmon to Saturday pancakes with the kids.”
Among her favorites: “The skillet pizza is a game-changer and so much cheaper and better than ordering pizza to be delivered. Plus, it’s a family activity.
“People also love the method for skillet cooking a steak — really, it’s a blueprint method to adapt to the cut of steak you like,” said Byrn. “The iron skillet gets searingly hot – especially if you put it on the backyard grill, much hotter than the oven — and it goes along with our COVID-approved way of dining outside with the fire pit.
Another favorite is “”the warm chocolate chip cookie you serve right from the pan,” she said.
“Simply Laura Lea, Balanced Recipes for Everyday Living,” by Laura Lea, Blue Hills Press, $35
If you are looking for healthy and easy cooking, check out this cookbook by holistic chef Laura Lea, who offers easy family-friendly and yes, healthy, recipes most of which can be made within 30 minutes.
Her Nashville-based Laura Lea Balanced business focuses on increasing awareness of the relationship between food, and mental, emotional and physical health.
“Nashville Eats: Hot Chicken, Buttermilk Biscuits and 100 More Southern Recipes from Music City”, by Jennifer Justus, Abrams, $35.
Justus, a former food writer for the Tennessean and now associated with the Nashville Food Project, offers recipes for Nashville classics like hot chicken and homemade biscuits. She also shares wonderful stories of local restauranteurs, bloggers and foodies, including Phila Hach, Pat Martin, Margot McCormack, Kahlil Arnold, and Food Project cooks, about the food they offer and how they make it.
Favorite recipes in the book include the summer treat of tomato pie, her chicken and dumplings and the Olive & Sinclair double chocolate pound cake.
“Tried and True: A Celebration of Food and Friendship,” by Jeannette Goddard and Lee Oakley
These two foodies, Goddard of ChefWorks Catering and Oakley of Oakley’s Southern Delights, teamed to present their “fan favorite” recipes that work well for first-time cooks as well as veterans.
The two Nashville women, who became friends years ago when their middle school daughters were soccer teammates, share a love of food. They created this book, blending Goddard’s catering background with Oakley’s small batch food supply company offerings.
Among the most popular recipes from Goddard’s catering days are the Strawberry Vinaigrette dressing and the Strawberry Fields salad with the candied almonds and vinaigrette. “When I came up with that salad, it was 1997 and we were providing all of the takeout food at Bread & Company,” Goddard said.
A favorite from the Oakley kitchen is the Buttermilk Pound Cake that was a family staple Lee remembers from childhood.
The publisher is BookBaby. A portion of the proceeds from book sales will go to the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s in Middle Tennessee. The book is not available at Parnassus but can be purchased at Tinwings, the White Orchid, the Giftery, Miss Daisy’s in Franklin, Something Special and Sperry’s Mercantile. Or order at https://www.oakleyssoutherndelights.com/our-products/tried-and-true-a-celebration-of-food-and-friendship
“Chaat, Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets and Railways of India,” by Maneet Chauhan and Jody Eddy. Clarkson Potter Publishers, $32.50
Super chef Maneet Chauhan, owner of Nashville’s Indian restaurants Chauhan and Chaatable describes herself as an “Indian cuisine crusader” after arriving in the United States to find her native Indian food “woefully misrepresented.”
Her cookbook offers authentic recipes along with colorful stories of India and its unique foods.
“Chaat are the sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, creamy, hot and cold snacks — street food, really, found in Indian markets, train stations and home kitchens,” Chauhan said.
She says the Peanut Chaat is a good recipe to try.
“Soul Food Love, Healthy Recipes inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family,” by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams. Clarkson Potter Publishers, $30.
This Nashville mother-daughter collection of recipes offers healthier versions of their family’s “soul food” heritage, and weaves fascinating family stories into the mix.
Randall, who once wrote that she was striving to be “the last fat black woman” worked with her daughter to rewrite family recipes to make them work for modern families and healthier than the original versions.
“You can cook every one of them from a Walmart shelf,” the authors’ preface says. “This is the story of our search for a kitchen where what’s good is good for you.”
Randall said two of the most popular recipes in the book are: sweet potato, kale and black-eyed pea soup, and the peanut chicken stew.
Those are closely followed by a dish called Jugged Pears and a recipe for breakfast casserole, she says.
“South, Essential Recipes and New Explorations,” by Sean Brock, Artisan Books, a division of Workman Publishing, $40.
This James Beard award winner and founding chef of Husk restaurants, offers an eclectic collection of Southern cuisine recipes for cooking everything from a strip steak to a low country fish head stew or grilled catfish with Hoppin’ John.
His oversized book includes recipes for an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad and grilled or fried okra. Of course, there is a recipe for fried chicken and some for assorted cornbread.
Many of his offerings include multiple steps and beyond basic ingredients (such as Bourbon Smoked Paprika, honey vinegar, Geechie Boy Jimmy Red cornmeal and Aleppo pepper ) so it was good to see Brock’s advice to his foodie followers: “Read all the way through the recipe before you start cooking. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway into a dish and realizing you don’t have a certain ingredient or enough time to get it done.”
“Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook, Recipes and Stories to Celebrate the Bounty of the Moment,” by Nancy Vienneau, Nelson Books, $24.99
Even though there are not many potluck meals being organized during the pandemic, Nancy Vienneau’s potluck cookbook is full of great recipes organized by month.
The focus is on recipes for good wholesome food, but there is also encouragement to create sustainable and seasonal meals that pedestrian cooks like me might not otherwise think about.
For example, a couple of the more popular seasonal recipes include butternut squash leek lasagna and flourless chocolate cake with cinnamon whipped cream.
Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap, and at Tennessean.com/mscheap, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”