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Today I'm spotlighting two cookbooks by Crescent Dragonwagon. Both have been well used in my kitchen.
Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread is the perfect cookbook for winter. It consists of a collection of recipes Crescent made for the guests at her inn, Dairy Hollow House, in the Ozarks. The book starts off with a chapter on making stocks, which is followed by a chapter on tips, garnishes, and ideas. Then comes the wonderful soup recipes, divided by main ingredient or style (such as dairy-based soups).
The recipes are clearly laid out with easy-to-follow numbered directions. All the recipes use ingredients you can get at a good grocery store, even the ethnic soups. I admit (sorry Crescent!) that I don't always make homemade stock and that I often use canned (no salt, organic) beans, but either way I've had great success with every soup I've made from the book. When I pulled my copy off the shelf, I found a shopping list marking the page for Harira, a Moroccan vegetarian soup. It's delicious.
Of course there is also a bread chapter, which includes yeasted breads and quick breads, biscuits, and muffins. I noticed that the back of my book falls open to the stained and gritty page that has the recipe for Whole-Wheat Butterhorns, which are made from a wonderful honey-sweetened yeast dough. These always get rave reviews from my dinner guests (and Mr. BFR).
Throughout the text you'll also find the stories behind the recipes, variations, tips, and menu ideas. I also love the literary quotations and black & white sketches that add to the book's charm.
The other Crescent Dragonwagon cookbook I have is called Passionate Vegetarian. Let me tell you that my book is almost falling apart. It's a hefty tome at 1100 pages! But it is filled with just about everything you could possibly want to know about cooking grains, cereals, vegetables, and beans.
The really wonderful thing about this book, is that you do not need to be a vegetarian to find it useful. The basic information and incredible variety of dishes make this an excellent kitchen reference for everyone. And the fabulous index makes finding what you want a breeze.
Each section focuses on a single ingredient and provides basic information, recipes, tips, alternative cooking methods, and many yummy variations. The difficulty of recipes runs the full range: from dead simple to multi-stepped, but they are all well thought out and very flavorful.
I particularly recommend this book for people who have joined a CSA (community sponsored agriculture) or who shop at a local farmers market. You'll never be too intimidated to try something new again.
Crescent Dragonwagon has a website and a blog where you can learn more about her and her books (including the origin of her name). I bet you'll subscribe to her blog after just one look! She has a new cookbook coming out; watch this space for a review and more information.
Crescent Dragonwagon at Amazon
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Both books discussed in this post were bought (see review policy)