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Delicious reading

New cookbook releases highlight array of dishes

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Martha Hall Foose

Martha Hall Foose has been cooking up some treats.

The James Beard Award winning cookbook author and Greenwood resident has several new releases that are sure to awaken the senses and have cooks — from the novice to the more experienced — in the kitchen expanding their culinary repertoires.

Although the books have been published during a time when most book tours have been either canceled or postponed, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to get more creative in the kitchen, with many families now opting for home-cooked meals rather than grabbing take-out.

“Everybody’s cooking at home so much more now,” said Foose.

These newly released books will allow home cooks to turn each weeknight meal into an array of delicious, flavorful entrees, sides and desserts.

Last week, “I Cook in Color: Bright Flavors from My Kitchen and Around the World” was released. Foose teamed up again with Asha Gomez for a cookbook that serves up vibrant dishes from across the globe.

The last book they wrote together was “My Two Souths,” which focused on blending traditional Southern cooking with Southern Indian cooking.

"I Cook in Color"

Foose said she and Gomez talked for a long time about “I Cook in Color.”

“We were trying to decide how we wanted to structure the book,” she said.

The book was inspired by the different dishes Gomez embraces from across the world and takes readers on a flavorful journey.

“She’s traveled a great deal and has friends who are chefs all over the world,” Foose said.

Foose said Gomez described the book as “‘really the way I cook in my kitchen every day. ... I’m not making tikka masala and curry every night of the week.’”

Some of the recipes include Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Capers and Japanese Eggplant with Peanut Sauce.

“They truly are recipes from all around the world — everything from a Thai salad to gazpacho to pumpkin and bean stew,” said Foose. “It’s just a really great array, and there’s some beautiful desserts that will be great for the holidays.”

Some of the desserts include Mango Cardamom Cake, which Foose describes as “delicious,” Strawberry Chocolate Flake Pavlova, and simple pound cake and pie recipes.

“There’s some challenging recipes that I think more experienced cooks will really love, but then there are also some really simple down-home recipes, like the You-Pick Blueberry Cake, that more novice cooks won’t be intimidated by,” said Foose.

In April, “A Good Meal is Hard to Find” was published. The cookbook features 60 go-to recipes, which are introduced by humorous fictional vignettes — from Francine’s bedtime doughnut to Edna’s blind date at the barbecue joint. In this cookbook, Foose teams up with artist Amy C. Evans, who created eye-catching artwork to accompany each recipe.

“It’s a storybook, and it’s a cookbook, and it’s also a picture book,” said Foose. “I think it’s a really unique collection. ... The inspiration for all the recipes are Amy’s paintings, and her paintings have such funny, great names.”

"A Good Meal is Hard to Find"

For example, one painting is called “Camille’s Grandmother Loved Duke’s Mayonnaise and Costume Jewelry.” There’s a funny short story about Camille and a recipe for egg salad.

“So all the recipes are named for someone — most of them are women — and then I came up with the recipes and Amy did the paintings, and then we work together on these little fictional vignettes,” said Foose.

The book includes “some really fun recipes,” such as an overnight breakfast in bed casserole with strawberry jam, a doughnut recipe, chicken posole and a recipe for buttermilk poppy seed waffles with plum jelly butter.

The book is also good “for people who like to just read cookbooks in bed like me,” said Foose. “It’s just a fun storybook because some of these stories are so mysterious that you really have to ponder on them for a while.”

In September, a companion book came out, “A Good Meal is Hard to Find Journal: A Pocketbook of Notions & Notes.”

“It’s really cute,” said Foose. “It’s got a little pocket in the back, where you can put newspaper clippings, and then it has a little section for birthdays, a section for gifts, a little section for road trips and a section for books you want to read or a friend recommends to you.”

The companion book also features cooking tips and tricks and recipes.

“There are some handy recipes to keep in the kitchen,” Foose said, “that you’ll reference again and again.”

Some of the recipes include a quick quiche recipe, all-purpose pastry dough, a one-bowl muffin and a vinaigrette.

“This is a great book to have in the kitchen,” said Foose. “When you’re talking on the phone and somebody recommends a book, you’ve got a little place to jot it down.”

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tomato-Ginger Gravy

Featured in “I Cook in Color” is a Roasted Butternut Squash with Tomato-Ginger Gravy recipe.

Foose was recently given a new title — the World Tomato Society’s culinary ambassador.

“It’s this great organization out of Los Gatos, California, but it really is the world society,” she said. “There are members from every place you can think. ... It’s a bunch of people who are just tomato enthusiasts.”

The website includes everything a person would want to know about tomatoes, including growing tomatoes, entomology, taxonomy, types of tomatoes, seeds, tomato culture, recipes and some videos featuring Foose and other locals.

“It’s just all things tomato, everything you could want to know about soil maintenance, tomatoes in history, tomato gadgets,” she said. “I’ve learned so much. So I’m very enthusiastic about growing tomatoes next spring.”

For more information about the World Tomato Society, visit www.worldtomatosociety.com.

For more information about “A Good Meal is Hard to Find,” visit www.agoodmealishardtofind.com.

All of Foose’s books are available at Turnrow Books.

Here is a recipe from “I Cook in Color”:

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tomato-Ginger Gravy

4 small butternut squash

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

4 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

1½ teaspoons pink Himalayan salt, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

6 fresh plum tomatoes, pureed

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise from the stem down. Leave in the stem and skin on for this recipe. Use a small spoon to scoop the seeds out. Using a paring knife, score the flesh side of the butternut squash horizontally and then vertically. Place the butternut squash on the sheet pan, skin-side down. Rub each half of the butternut squash with 1½ teaspoons of the butter. Drizzle the honey evenly all over the butternut squash and season them with the black pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork-tender.

In the meantime, make the tomato gravy. Place a small pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and ginger. Cook the ginger for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown. Add the fresh tomato puree to the ginger. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Let the tomatoes cook down and reduce by half; this should take about 15 minutes. Serve the tomato gravy alongside the roasted butternut squash. Garnish with fresh oregano.

• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or rrobison@gwcommonwealth.com.

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