For Mother’s Day, delight mom with intriguing food-related gift books and unique recipes to celebrate the day in her honor. Warm her taste buds with The Book of Spice: From Anise to Zedoary (Pegasus Books) which explains the medical and magical properties of spices. Author John O’Connell combines history with insights into art, religion, medicine, and science, seasoned with anecdotes. Learn why Cleopatra bathed in saffron and mare’s milk, why wormwood-laced absinthe caused 18th century drinkers to hallucinate, and how cloves harvested in remote Indonesian islands found their way into a kitchen in ancient Syria.
For moms who are gardeners, foodies and/or history buffs, a gift of How Carrots Won the Trojan War (Storey Publishing) offers a collection of behind-the-scenes tales of the world’s most popular vegetables. Readers discover that Henry Ford was obsessed with carrots and that Abraham Lincoln ordered corned beef and cabbage for his first Inaugural address.
Masterchef winner Whitney Miller’s cookbook New Southern Table (Nelson Books) “keeps it simple for the home cook with approachable recipes that embody the true hospitality of a southern family,” said Emeril Lagasse.
Drawing on not only her southern roots, but also her international travels and culinary experience, Whitney presents such recipes as Campfire S’Mores Scones, Sweet Corn Grits Tamales with Barbecue Shrimp and Corn Salad, White Chocolate Bread Pudding Beignets, and Sweet Tea Peach Cobbler.
Give her Pea Pesto, Creamed Coconut Greens, and Griddled Blueberry Muffins (below, courtesy of Nelson Books) a try for Mother’s Day or other special occasions.
Makes about 1 cup.
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Place the peas, basil, dill, salt, and oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Coconut Creamed Greens
Makes 4 servings.
2 teaspoons coconut or olive oil
12 cups packed chopped turnip greens or kale, ribs removed
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
6 cloves roasted garlic
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup unsweetened shaved coconut, roughly chopped
For Roasted Garlic
1 head garlic
¼ teaspoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the outer layers of the skin from the head of garlic and cut off about ¼ inch from the top, exposing the cloves. Place the garlic on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle the oil over the exposed cloves. Bring the edges of the aluminum foil together and crimp to close. Bake the garlic for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until fragrant and softened.
Place the oil in a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add the greens and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until slightly wilted, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and roasted garlic. Stir until well mixed. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the salt, and cook uncovered for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Transfer the greens to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the greens are broken down into chunky small pieces, about 30 seconds. Do not puree. Stir in the honey to cut any remaining bitterness from the greens. Pour into a shallow 8-inch casserole dish. Season the creamed greens with additional salt to taste. Sprinkle the coconut in an even layer over the greens.
Preheat the broiler. Broil the greens until the coconut is golden brown. Serve warm.
Griddled Blueberry Muffins
Makes 6 servings.
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ cup pure cane sugar
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
Coarse sugar sprinkles, optional
Powdered sugar, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and let cool slightly. In another bowl stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the lemon zest, sugar, buttermilk, milk, egg, honey, and vanilla to the slightly cooled butter and whisk until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of the flour mixture. Do not overmix.
Add the blueberries to the remaining flour mixture and toss to coat. Fold the blueberries and flour mixture into the muffin batter.
Divide the batter evenly among the paper liners. Top each with the coarse sugar sprinkles, if using. Bake the muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, until lightly browned. Let them cool for about 15 minutes. Cut the muffins in half.
Grease a cast-iron griddle with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place the muffin halves on the griddle and cook until toasted and browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining muffins. Serve immediately with butter and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, if using.
Ann Hattes has over 25 years experience writing about both travel and food for publications both in the US and internationally. A senior living in Wisconsin, she’s a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and the Midwest Travel Writers Association.