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Diane Cowen's Sunday Dinners is a celebration of just such family traditions. She contacted thirteen pastors and asked them to share a family story, a prayer, and the recipes that grace their tables. Although the cookbook has a Texas and southern focus, a few of the families live in the North.
One of the things I love about collections like Sunday Dinners is that the recipes are all tried and true and have been made by ordinary home cooks. And, in fact, every dish in this book is within the reach anyone with moderate kitchen skills. I also appreciate that the ingredients are easy to find and require almost no special equipment. The dishes are perfect for family gatherings and should have a wide appeal.
As I mentioned, the cookbook has a southern feel, which is evident by the recipes for country-fried pork chops, biscuits, corn bread, pimiento cheese, grits, and gumbo. But you'll also find spring rolls, rack of lamb, pot roast, and salads. Because these are Sunday dinners, there is a good selection of desserts, including Texas sheet cake, strawberry cake, puddings, cookies, and flans.
It's common for family recipes to rely on processed foods, and the Sunday Dinner collection is no exception. I'm not judging; I'm just pointing out that quite a few of the dishes include ingredients such as a cream-of soup, a cake mix, canned pie filling, or bottled sauces. In addition to vegetable and salads, all the meals include a meat or fish.
Although I'm more of a from-scratch kind of cook, there were still plenty of recipes that caught my attention. For example, I thought the pecan sweet potatoes (recipe follows) would be great at Thanksgiving. I've marked the pulled-pork tacos to make this spring, and the herb-roasted salmon looks both healthful and easy. Many of the desserts called to me too, especially the carrot cake and chewy chocolate cookies.
Whether you want to start a new tradition in your family or hope to add some new flavors to your standard Sunday fare, pick up a copy of Diane Cowen's Sunday Dinners. If you have dietary concerns or are a vegetarian, you might want to check this one out of the library before you buy. Note on the photos: Both photos were scanned from the cookbook; all rights and copyright remain with the photographer, Michael Paulsen.
Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes
- 10 medium-size sweet potatoes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 2 cups chopped pecans (though photo shows halves)
Make the potatoes: Bake the sweet potatoes until soft, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow them to cool enough to be handled, then peel and mash them. Push the potatoes through a ricer or sieve and place in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk, and butter. Add to the sweet potatoes and mix. Pour the potato mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
Make the topping: Whisk together the brown sugar and flour. Stir in the melted butter until crumbly. Then add the pecans. (If the mixture isn't crumbly, add more sugar.) Sprinkle over the potato mixture and bake for 50 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly.
Andrews McMeel, 2013
Source: Review (see review policy)
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