Book Review: Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes

Most of our favorite recipes have some kind of story attached to them.  They are outstanding recipes in their own right but there is usually something else that makes them extra special to us.  A sister who used to bake a special type of coffee cake or a mother-in-law that could make samosas better than any street vendor in Chenai.  Maybe it was an old family recipe that doesn't even have a real name or a recipe for ni su mien bao that was shared by a friend from a distant land.  These are some of the things that make home cooking great!

Last week, a cook book was released that celebrates these best loved home cooked dishes along with the people that make them come to life.  The Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes features 1,485 recipes that represent the best of the best recipes that have been submitted to The Taste of Home Magazine over the last 20 years.  Each of these recipes was chosen from thousands that were submitted by readers.  They were subjected to numerous tests and reviews.  Each was selected because their directions are clear and simple, they use ingredients that are readily available at most grocery stores or markets, and most importantly they work!  The recipes are guaranteed to look, smell, and taste as good in your kitchen as they do in the Taste of Home's test kitchens.  Each of these recipes includes the year it was published, the name of the reader who submitted it, plus any tips, facts, or other stories submitted by the reader.  Many of the recipes include full color photographs as well. 

The book begins with a small introduction about the history of Taste of Home Magazine which published its first issue over 20 years ago.  The magazine began as a bimonthly publication and later evolved into a family of magazines, annuals, special issues, and cookbooks.  It has always operated on a simple premise - create a magazine that is devoted to delicious home cooked food and include as many high quality recipes submitted by readers as possible.  The book continues with section after section of recipes.  Overall, this is a very large, well bound volume.  It contains so many recipes that it would be easy to lose your way were it not for a set of three detailed indexes that were included at the end of the book.

For our review, it was especially difficult to choose only three recipes from such a voluminous collection.  After much consideration, we settled on two classic European dishes and one recipe for a side dish that could go with almost any meal.   We tried the German classic, Beef Rouladen along with the utility side dish, Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes.  Both were very easy to make - only a few steps - and both resulted in outstanding dishes as well as great leftovers the next day.  We also tried a breakfast recipe, another European classic, the Overnight Cherry Danish. This recipe required a little more planning as we were required to mix up the dough the day before and refrigerate it overnight.  The next morning, the dough was a perfect consistency and easy to roll out in order to construct the danishes.  This recipe was also very easy to make and we liked the versatility of it as many other seasonal fruits could be substituted for the cherries.  Overall, this is an exceptional collection of recipes.  If we were only allowed to have one cookbook, this one would be our choice.  The book includes an extensive collection of enticing recipes - we especially liked the international meal collections like Mexican Fiesta, Traditional German Meal, French Christmas Menu, Memories from India, A trip to Armenia, and Cooking to a Cuban Beat to name a few!  The recipes are easy to make and the stories included from the recipes' creators are also very interesting.  We give Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes five stars out of five.

Overnight Cherry Danish Recipe

cherry danish
These rolls with their cherry-filled centers melt in your mouth and put a touch on holiday color on your table.  They store well, unfrosted, in the freezer.

2 packages (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm 2% milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tspn salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups warm half-and-half cream
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling

2 tbsp butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 tspn vanilla extract
dash of salt
4 to 5 tbsp half-and-half cream

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Add the yeast mixture, cream, and egg yolks;  stir until mixture forms a soft dough (dough will be sticky).  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Punch down the dough; divide into quarters.  Roll each portion into an 18-in. x 4-in. rectangle; cut into 1-in. x 4-in. strips.
  3. Place 2 strips side by side; twist together.  Shape into a ring; pinch ends together.  Repeat with remaining strips.  Place 2  inches apart  on greased baking sheets.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a 1/2 inch deep indentation in the center of each roll.  Fill each with about a tbsp of cherry pie filling.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 14 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
  6. For icing, in a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy.  Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, salt, and enough cream to achieve a drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over warm rolls.
Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes and Leann Sauder of Tremont, IL 
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Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes Recipe

make ahead mashed potatoes
Creamy mashed potatoes get even better when topped with a savory trio of cheese, onions, and bacon.  Plus, these potatoes offer make-ahead appeal.

3 pounds of potatoes (about 9 medium), peeled and cubed
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 tspn onion powder
1 tspn salt
1 tspn garlic powder
1/2 tspn pepper
6 bacon strips, chopped
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped

  1. Place potatoes in a Dutch oven and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender.  Drain; mash potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream, and butter.  Stir in milk and seasonings.
  2. In a small skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain.
  3. Transfer potato mixture to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; sprinkle with cheese, onions, and bacon.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Remove potatoes from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 50 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes and Amanda Sauer of University City, MO

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Beef Rouladen Recipe

Our family was poor when I was growing up in Germany, so we ate garden vegetables for many weekday meals. When mother made meat for a Sunday dinner, it was a terrific treat. My favorite is this tender beef dish, which gets great flavor from Dijon mustard.

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
8 slices beef top round steak (1/4 inch thick and about 2 pounds)
salt and pepper to taste
8 bacon strips
1 large onion, cut into wedges
3 tbsp canola oil
3 cups beef broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
chopped fresh parsley, optional

  1. Lightly spread mustard on each slice of steak; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place 1 bacon strip and a few onion wedges on each slice; roll up; secure with toothpicks.
  2. In a large skillet, brown beef in oil until no longer pink; drain.  Add broth; bring to a boil.  reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. Remove meat and keep warm.  Combine flour and water until smooth; gradually stir into broth.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  Remove toothpicks from rolls and return to gravy; heat through.  Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes

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Homemade Tabasco Hot Sauce Recipe

15 cayenne peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut into 2 large pieces
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tspn kosher salt

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all of the ingredients.  Heat until mixture begins to boil then remove from heat.
  2. Remove and discard the jalapeno peppers.
  3. Pour the remaining ingredients into a small jar and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

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Rasam Recipe

Rasam is a spicy and tangy soup that is popular throughout India.  This version of rasam is my mother-in-law's recipe.  Try it with turkey samosas or sago pagoda.

Recommended Equipment:
mortar and pestle

1 3/4 cup water
tamarind5 tamarind, peeled
2 garlic cloves
1 tspn peppercorns, ground
3/4 tspn cumin
1 red chili pepper, dry
1/2  12-oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 tspn turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp canola oil
2 curry leaves, dried
1/2 tspn mustard seeds
1/4 tspn cumin seeds

  1. In a medium sized bowl, soak the tamarind in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes (until it is soft).
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, and peppercorns to the mortar and mash together using the pestle.
  3. In a separate bowl, add 1/4 cup of water and the garlic, cumin, and peppercorns.
  4. Squeeze the tamarinds in the bowl in which they are soaking.  Using a strainer, pour the tamarind liquid into the bowl containing the garlic, cumin, and peppercorn mixture.  Reserve the tamarind husk in the original bowl and add 1/2 cup of water and let soak.
  5. Add 1/4 tspn of turmeric to the rasam.
  6. Strain the remaining tamarind water into the rasam.
  7. Mince the red chili pepper and add it to the rasam.
  8. Add the tomato sauce to the rasam.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add 3/4 tbsp cilantro to the rasam.
  11. Pour the rasam into a pot and cook over medium heat until it begins to boil.  Then reduce heat to simmer.
  12. Add 1 tbsp canola  oil to a small skillet over medium heat.
  13. When oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.  When the seeds begin to pop, place a lid on the skillet until the popping stops - about 3 minutes.
  14. Add the curry leaves and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Then add to the rasam and serve.

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