Celebrate National Butterscotch Pudding day!

Who knew that there was a such thing as National Butterscotch Pudding Day?

Indeed, there is!

Maybe you've never made your own? This doesn't have to be the case.

The New York Times Dessert Cookbook has a recipe for it. That's not the only treat you'll find in this volume. Florence Fabricant, a long time food writer for the New York Times, put together this collection of 400 dessert recipes that appeared in the paper through the years. There's a wide range of recipes here, as well as essays and holiday menu suggestions.

I've mentioned this book before, but Make the Bread Buy the Butter has a recipe for butterscotch pudding, along with other foods you might not otherwise think to make at home.

David Leibovitz gets a bit fancier with his take on it with Butterscotch Pudding With Coffee-Caramelized Bananas in Ripe for Dessert. This book will inspire you with unique recipes like Brazil Nut, Date and Ginger Tart, or Pineapple Frangipane Tart.

As we head into fall, a bit of butterscotch pudding might be the perfect way to transition from light summertime treats to the deeper flavors of autumn.

Fun Fall Cookbooks

One thing I look forward to every fall is my family’s yearly pilgrimage to our local apple orchard. If you have a cellar full of bags of apples that you don’t know what to do with, The Apple Lover's Cookbook and An Apple Harvest: Recipes and Orchard Lore will show you how to make delicious meals and treats.

On a cold, blustery autumn day there isn't anything better than curling up with a good book with a bowl of hot stew. Soups, Stews and Chillis: A Best Recipe Classic is an excellent place to start and will teach you the basics like the good old standby chicken noodle soup and beef stew. If you want to get adventurous and try something new, however, you might want to try Recipes from the Night Kitchen and The Best Soups in the World. You can find more soup and stew recipes here in the library's catalog.

Fall is also pumpkin and squash season, and The Compleat Squash has a section on how to make transform these gourds into tasty fall meals.

And if you hunt (or you know someone who does) The Venison Cookbook will teach you how to incorporate venison into your meals.

Chocolate Milkshakes

Give me an excuse to think about, drink, or even be near chocolate milkshakes, and I'm in. This time, the excuse is National Chocolate Milkshake Day, September 12.

"Chocolate milkshake" isn't the sort of thing that will easily generate a well-populated catalog search, but don't worry. We've done some digging for you. Many of AADL's cookbooks have recipes for unique ice cream + chocolate concoctions.

For example, if you're in the mood for a Chocolate Stout Milkshake you can find a recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. If you like chocolate and mint, you might enjoy Bobby Flay's Fresh Mint-Chocolate Speckled Milkshake, which you can learn how to make in Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries and Shakes. In fact, if you like chocolate milkshakes, this book won't let you down with recipes like Banana-Milk Chocolate Crackle Milkshake, Double Chocolate Milkshake, Dark Chocolate Milkshake With "Fluffy" Coconut Cream, and a few other chocolate-featuring milkshakes.

Flavor Exposed: 100 Global Recipes From Sweet to Salty, Earthy to Spicy gets creative with its treatment of chocolaty shakes. Here you'll find a recipe for a Chocolate Brownie With Gula Melaka Toffee and Chai Milkshake. In case you don't know what gula melaka is, you're not alone. I looked it up; it's palm sugar.

There you have it, an excuse to try a few new treats.

Homemade Pizza

September 4 was National Cheese Pizza Day. It's not to late to celebrate by exploring pizza-related cookbooks.

If you would like to learn about pizza, not limited to the cheese variety, Pizza: A Global History might be the book for you. Here, in this brief volume, Carol Helstosky takes us from pizza's origin in eighteenth century Naples through its presence (omnipresence?) in popular culture. This particular book is a part of a series dedicated to the history of food and drink with a global perspective. Thought this book is mostly a book about pizza, you'll also find a few recipes to try if you find yourself inspired. If you enjoy this book, you might like others in the series on topics such as pie, pancakes, hot dogs, and sandwiches.

Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough's book Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! can be described as their guide to making a variety of enjoyable pizzas at home. This book contains over 100 recipes including classics and more inventive recipes with toppings such as squash, chard and even duck confit. This book also includes instructions for making a variety of crusts including a gluten-free one.

For a take on pizza from a well-known chef and restauranteur, try Alice Water's Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza & Calzone. From the title you can tell that this isn't a single subject book. However, it has something in store for you if you're interested in pizza. Some of these recipes can be time consuming, particularly if you're tackling the homemade pasta, but with over 140 recipes, you're sure to find inspiration. In this book you can expect to find recipes with names like "Buckwheat Pasta, Roasted Peppers, & Endive," or "Barbecued Artichokes & Broken Garlic Pasta."

Inspired by a trip to Naples, Charles and Michiele Scicolone became determined to find a way to duplicate the pizzas they experienced in their home kitchen. Their pizza-related quest, gives us the book Pizza: Any Way You Slice It, which boasts tips on topics from dealing with dough to selecting toppings.

Pizza California Style sets out to provide a pizza recipe for every palate. Here you'll find California style pizzas which are relatively light and have a thin crust. The flavors in the pizzas in this book borrow from a variety of cuisines including Mexican, Japanese, Thai, French and Italian. Here you can find recipes for "Chinese Style Duck" pizza or "Sesame Shrimp Teriyaki" pizza.

In any case, it's pretty likely that even the most die-hard pizza fan can find a new way to enjoy it!

Lunch box inspiration

Looking for inspiration as you face another school year of packing lunches? Or maybe this is your first year sending a young one off to school during the day. Maybe, even, this isn't the first year in school, but you've decided that this is the year you don't go for the hot lunch, and decide to pack lunch instead. Maybe you don't have kids, and you're looking for ideas to make your own lunches more fun. In any case, we have some cookbooks that might help.

Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes For School Lunches Kids Will Love is a packed-lunch cookbook with ideas that you can implement without driving across town looking for hard-to-find ingredients. It might even make you see some of the things you already cook in a new way, as candidates for lunch.

The vegans don’t need to be left out! Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love! is full of ideas that will make those packed lunches interesting. You don’t have to be a vegan to see the fun in this book. Long before her book was published, McCann maintained a blog where she photographed and posted the vegan lunches she made for her son.

If you’re looking for something more striking, you might try Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes. Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal, and is common in Japanese cuisine. This book can help you see how different edible building blocks can combined to make visually impressive lunches for your kids (or yourself).

Building a Pantry

We're in those August weeks where there's still some summer to be had, but preparing for the school year is right around the corner.

Like the new year, this can be a time to assess things, and maybe set some goals. If you have a goal to make more of your food at home, there are many books that can help you toward that end.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch is the book that came about when Jennifer Reese lost her job. In this situation, she decided to start making some of the things that she had previously bought for convenience. Sometimes, she wondered whether her efforts were actually saving her money. In this book, you can find out which homemade items were money-saving winners and which weren’t. This isn't simply a book of recipes, but you get a sense of Reese's family and the impact of her experiment on them.

If this sort of thing appeals to you, you might take a look at Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making. Alana Chernila’s book, also, was born of a tight budget. She’ll show you how to make things that, maybe, you never considered making before like ketchup, sauerkraut, potato chips or spice mixes.

If you’re attracted to economy in the kitchen, you might like An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. This book is a bit more philosophical than the other two. Here, Tamar Alder will point out (or remind you of) things that can add some efficiency to your efforts to create more of your meals in your own kitchen.

2013 Sizzling Summer Reads #2 - Feasting on Fiction

Fabri Prize-winner Eli Brown's Cinnamon and Gunpowder opens in 1819 when the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood is kidnapped by ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail. He works miracles in creating culinary masterpieces with the meager supplies on board the Flying Rose, tantalizing her with the likes of tea-smoked eel and brewed pineapple-banana cider as he watches her pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox.

"Brown concocts a clever tale in which history, ethics, action, and romance blend harmoniously." "(S)izzling and swashbuckling".

Susan Rebecca White's A Place at the Table is inspired by the stories of chefs Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, in which she tells the story of 3 troubled souls finding their way and making a place for themselves through the magic of the big city and a love of cooking.

Alice Stone, an African American girl growing up in North Carolina, whose upbringing was marked by racism; Bobby Banks, a gay man from Georgia, is ostracized by his conservative family and friends; and Amelia Brighton, whose privileged life is turned upside down by her husband's infidelity and a mysterious family secret. As the novel unfolds, these three are drawn together at a tiny café in New York City.

"With unforgettable characters, rich detail, and seamless narration,... (it) will long remain in the reader's mind and memory, a gentle reminder of the importance of acceptance in all its forms and the myriad connections that surround us."

Whitney Gaskell's Table for Seven is an entertaining tale of a monthly dinner club. It interweaves the lives of two couples - Fran and Will, Jaime and Mark; Audrey, a young widow; Leland, an elderly neighbor, and the extremely attractive, man-about-town bachelor, Coop.

A series of dramatic crises force the dinner club members to confront their own flaws and work on their lives. "Gaskell has mastered the art of putting the fun in dysfunctional."

July is National Ice Cream Month

This summer, when the temperature rises and the A/C just isn't cutting it, dig into a bowl of creamy, delicious ice cream! July is National Ice Cream Month, and you don't have to love dairy to partake in this cool dessert. Check out Vegan a la Mode: More than 100 Frozen Treats for Every Day of the Year for how to make your own non-dairy delicious desserts. (Maybe now would be a good time to buy an ice cream maker?) Also take a look at A Passion for Ice Cream or Williams-Sonoma's Ice Cream for more conventional ice creams. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, check out Raw for Dessert which includes uncooked dessert recipes with a whole chapter on sorbets, ice creams, and sundaes.

Meet Top Chef Season 10 Seattle Winner, Kristen Kish!

Sunday July 21, 2013: 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Spend the afternoon with Kristen Kish - the winner of Top Chef Season 10!

Kristen is the chef de cuisine at Menton Boston and is the second female winner in Top Chef history! Hear about her Michigan roots, her culinary journey, her Top Chef experience, and her chef career in Boston.

Born in South Korea and adopted into a family in Kentwood, MI, Kristen's love for cooking began at the young age of six years old as she watched Great Chefs of the World on the Discovery channel. While in college, her mother suggested she go to culinary school. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago and has never looked back.

After culinary school, Kristen worked for numerous world-renowned chefs, including Michelin-star chef Guy Martin, and she currently works for James Beard Award Winner and Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Barbara Lynch. Most recently, Kristen took home the winning title of Top Chef on "Top Chef: Seattle," fighting her way back to the finale through the Last Chance Kitchen after elimination earlier in the season.

Do not miss this chance to meet the most recent Top Chef winner!

Dirt Candy

It's a restaurant. It’s a cookbook. It’s a graphic novel. It’s worth checking out.

Dirt Candy: Flavor-forward food from the upstart New York City vegetarian restaurant, by Amanda Cohen & Ryan Dunlavey, is a graphic novel that tells the story of how the actual NYC restaurant came to be. It is also a cookbook as it includes recipes that are served at the restaurant interspersed with the story. The recipes include chapters on pickles, soups, salads, appetizers, sauces, entrees, pasta, desserts. All vegetarian, many with vegan variations. The book is honest and quite humorous and would be a fun read for foodies, graphic novel enthusiasts, and those who are in the restaurant business.

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