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I was totally planning on posting about some cookies today, but then this morning I realized that it’s already the 1st of the month today! I should have posted the summary for the Cookbook of the Month yesterday, but time just seems to be getting away from me lately. So here it is, one day late!!

I usually only do 4 recipes from the Cookbook of the Month, but this month, I couldn’t help myself – I actually ended up making 6. I’ve posted about 4, and I am bringing you a bonus recipe today! I’m so glad I let someone else choose my cookbook this month, because otherwise, I don’t know if I would have heard about this cookbook when I did. And I have really enjoyed it! It’s had it’s high points – those Blackberry Pie Bars were killer – and it’s had it’s low points – the Ground Beef Gorditas that didn’t quite work out. But overall, what a good cookbook this is! The recipes in this book come from Rebecca Rather, the owner of The Rather Sweet Bakery and Café in Fredricksburg, Texas. It’s books like this that always make me want to open up my own little home town café, until I remember how much work it is cooking for a crowd!! I think my favorite thing about the recipes in this book is that they are not pretentious. All of the recipes seem to be full of flavor and personality. And it doesn’t hurt that the book features breakfasts, desserts, drinks and lunches/dinners. The only thing that I can complain about is purely a personal reason. I don’t drink, and only use alcohol in recipes where the alcohol will be cooked out. There are a handful of recipes in this book that I will either have to find substitutions or not make because of the alcohol. But like I said, this doesn’t apply to everyone! I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone, and I have added her second book – The Pasty Queen Christmas – to my wish list.

Recipes made from The Pastry Queen:

Peach-Filled Kolaches
Ground Beef Gorditas
Blackberry Pie Bars
Coconut Cream Flan
Green Chile Crab Cakes with Tomatillo Salsa (recipe at the end of the post)

May’s Cookbook of the Month is kind of an unusual choice for me. I was actually browsing through craigslist a few weeks ago to see if there were any cookbooks for sale that I would like. Usually I come across things like “Microwave Dinners in 5 Minutes” from 1982 that someone is trying to sell for $10. Yeah, books that probably wouldn’t be worth the gas it costs to go pick them up, much less the price tag on them. But one day, I came across a copy of Everyday Italian for only $10. It’s a book that I’ve wanted, so I got excited. Then I saw that the same person had a copy of Barefoot Contessa Parties, also for $10. I originally blew it off, because I don’t entertain, but then I decided to inquire about it as well. Well, a few days later, I was the proud owner of these two books for only $20! And I have to admit, once I started looking through Ina’s book, Giada’s suddenly became not so important to me anymore.

Let me explain why I didn’t think I’d really love Barefoot Contessa Parties. Back when I was single, I had an idea of what my future husband would be like. He’d be very manly, but with a sensitive side as well. He’d love sports and the outdoors, but he would also take me to the theatre and the ballet. And I dreamed of having dinner parties with friends on a regular basis. Then I met Josh. He swept me off of my feet from the beginning. He was manly and sensitive, loved sports and the outdoors, and was willing to take me to the theatre, even if it wasn’t in his top 5 favorite things to do. But dinner parties? I can just forget about that. My husband is great with people but he is just not a really social person. He would rather spend the evening on a date with me than spending it with a group of people. If I would try to have a dinner party, I can just expect him to not be there. I’m not complaining, because I really think I have the best husband in the world. But my dream of entertaining has gone down the drain. (Maybe one day I’ll have to organize a girls group – that way I don’t even have to involve my husband!!) So seeing an entertaining book, I figured it just wouldn’t apply to me.

Boy was I wrong! I’m so excited to dive head first into this book because there are some great sounding recipes in it! So, I decided to choose it as the Cookbook of the Month for May!

And here is the bonus recipe from The Pastry Queen – this one is a real keeper!!

Green Chile Crab Cakes with Tomatillo Salsa
adapted from The Pastry Queen

Salsa
1 pound tomatillos, papery skin removed,halved
1 medium yellow onion, cut into chunks
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

Crab Cakes
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 roasted chiles (optional)
1/3 jalepeno, seeded and finely diced
1 pound lump crabmeat, cleaned
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups Panko
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper

To make the salsa:
Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the tomatillos, onion, and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and roast, stirring once until brown around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a food processor and process until pureed. Transfer the puree to a glass jar and refrigerate until cold, about 45 minutes.

To make the crab cakes:
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and both chiles. Sauté for 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a medium bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.

In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, lime juice, cilantro, eggs, 1 1/2 cups of the breadcrumbs, the mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Stir in the cooled vegetable mixture. Form into 8 3-inch patties.

Pour the remaining breadcrumbs into a medium bowl. Coat the patties in the crumbs. Melt the remaining butter and olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the crab cakes and cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Serve immediately with tomatillo salsa.

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19 Responses to Cookbook of the Month Review – April 2008

  1. Katie B. says:

    Ooooh! Yum!! My in-laws were here recently, and my MIL had her fill of crab cakes… ever since, I’ve been thinking about them… We love tomatillos, so this looks like a perfect choice!!

  2. dobetter says:

    Okay, you have to start a girls group for entertaining! I’ve been in a girls dinner club for years and love it. I think the husbands even get a little jealous! Well, I’m excited to see what recipes you do this month!

  3. Mandy says:

    I am so glad that you get the BC parties! I have made so many recipes from that book, and they are all winners! Can’t wait to see which recipes you are making for May!

  4. noble pig says:

    Fun, I can’t wait to see the goods from this book, I have yet to purchase it as well.

  5. PheMom says:

    Count me in for the girls group! That is so funny about your husband and what you thought life would be like. We were definately raised from the same book because that describes what I hoped for exactly too. My husband doesn’t mind getting together with people though, but he is always too focused on all of his “hobbies” (skydiving, BASE jumping, etc – seriously). All three books sound awesome! Can’t wait to see some of the recipes from your new book!

  6. Kevin says:

    These crab cakes sound really good! The salsa verde would be perfect with them.

  7. glamah16 says:

    Craigs List for books? Have to check that out. Great finale with the crab cakes!

  8. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    I have all of Ina’s books and I love each of them. Her recipes are straightforward and unfussy. Plus, they always turn out. I’m looking forward to see what you come up with this month.

  9. Emiline says:

    Hmm, I’ll be interested in seeing what you whip up. I like Ina.

    I’m like your husband; very anti-social.

  10. sher says:

    Amazing recipe! Those crab cakes would be wonderful to serve to guests–but to myself too! :):)

  11. Grace says:

    ina has some rather strange friends and habits, but darn it if the woman doesn’t crank out some great dishes for entertaining. i’ll be looking forward to seeing what you make!

  12. Pearlsofeast says:

    Hi Deborah, All ur recipes are great.
    Please can u check my blog,I have something special and surprise for u !!!!!!!!

  13. Dhanggit says:

    crab cakes oh i love this!!! and the tomatillos sound so perfect together! would love to try this for the weekend gathering :-)

  14. Nan says:

    Crab season opened here, and when the crabs start coming out of their hiding places, I will be making every crabcake recipe known to man. This looks so delicious and is definitely a little different from lots of recipes out there. You should definitely start a dinner group with your girlfriends…it’s way more fun without the boys ;)

  15. BMK says:

    The Pastry Queen is my favorite cookbook of all time. I recently went to the Rather Sweet Bakery and it was phenomenal. I ate there twice while vacationing! I highly recommend the Pastry Queen Christmas, you won’t be disappointed. Have fun with Barefoot Contessa Parties, thats my other favorite!

  16. RecipeGirl says:

    Hi Deborah,

    I think you saw that I featured a bunch of Ina recipes recently. Most of them were from Barefoot Contessa Parties! I loved all of them. It’s a great cookbook. I’m excited to see what you’ll be trying!

  17. Elle says:

    I love Ina’s recipes. That is one book of hers that I don’t have, but I’m rethinking it now. And crab cakes are one of my favorites!

  18. Shelley says:

    I cannot wait to try these! We grow, roast and hand peel green chile! Yummy! We actually ship this to restuarants.

  19. Kelly-Jane says:

    I love Ina! Looking forward to seeing what else you choose :)

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