When home cooking mimics restaurant cooking, you may have had one too many restaurant meals. But that is an emerging trend, even among cookbooks.
Three new cookbooks promise to help you re-create restaurant favorites. If you're looking for a “Blue Plate Special” like Salisbury Steak or Turkey Croquettes, or classics like Hushpuppies, Broiled Tomatoes, or homemade Roquefort Dressing, The American Diner Cookbook by Elizabeth McKeon & Linda Everett (Cumberland House, $16.95) includes 450 recipes that are still on diner menus nationwide. With names like Webbies, Daddypops, and the Night Owl, most of the diners featured are in New England. Cookbook author Todd Wilbur has been sleuthing for kitchen secrets for more than 15 years in an attempt to copy favorite name foods at home. His latest book Even More Top Secret Recipes: More Amazing Kitchen Clones of America's Favorite Brand-Name Foods (Plume Publishing, $13) has recipe “clones” of Girl Scout Cookies - Shortbread and Thin Mints, Honeybaked Ham Glaze, and KFC Extra Crispy Chicken. From burgers to candy bars to snack cakes, he provides recipes and blueprints. Even dieters crave Chinese, Mexican, Thai, or Greek foods. WeightWatchers Take-Out Tonight! (Fireside, $13.95) has 150 recipes that have been modified for fat and calories according to the Weight Watchers Winning Points weight-loss plan. Whether you follow the plan or not, the recipes are healthy versions. Make your own General Tso's Chicken, the Greek baked pasta casserole known as Pastitsio, Skinny Chimichangas, and Spicy Thai Seafood Pot. Chicken Saltimbocca transforms a veal tradition with chicken cutlets.
Also seen among this season's lineup of cookbooks devoted to healthy cooking: 5 A Day: the Better Health Cookbook by Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka and Barbara Berry (Rodale, $15.95) encourages the use of fruits and vegetables to keep us healthy. The goal: Include five servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. Consider this a game, they advise. That's not hard with recipes such as Chunky Fresh Tomato Salsa (which is kid-friendly), Cherry Couscous Salad made with canned sweet cherries, and Pork Medallions with Honey-Glazed Fruit. Great Healthy Food for Strong Bones by Fiona Hunter & Emma-Lee Gow (Firefly, $19.95) has 120 recipes using calcium-rich ingredients such as Bacon & Ricotta Tart, Deep-Fried Smelt, and Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Topping.
Travel the world with cookbooks. Jessica Harris, long considered an expert on the foods of Africa, has turned her attention to Creole food in Beyond Gumbo: Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim (Simon & Schuster, $27). She finds the heart of down home Creole in Brazil, Belize, and the Bahamas; in Haiti, Trinidad, and Jamaica, New York City and New Orleans. From the hearty hominy soup known as Pozole in Costa Rica to the Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad of the United States, to the Puerto Rican Roast Leg of Pork, the book has 175 recipes. Also included are arroz con pollo and Hoppin' John. The New Irish Table by Margaret M. Johnson (Chronicle Books, $24.95) shows Ireland's food renaissance. Old World ingredients such as farmhouse cheese, beef, lamb, and wild fruits are interpreted in Baked Rock Oysters with Bacon, Lamb Cutlets with Honey, and Smoked Salmon Chowder. Marmalade Puddings with Bushmills Custard Sauce is an old-fashioned steamed pudding with new flavors. Closer to home is The Amish Cook by Elizabeth Coblentz with Kevin Williams. Newspaper editor Williams persuaded an Old Order Amish grandmother to write a weekly cooking column 10 years ago. This book brings together Elizabeth Coblentz's most beloved columns, along with 75 recipes such as Smoked Summer Sausage, Shoo-Fly Pie, and German Rivvel Soup. Ms. Coblentz died in 2002, just before the book was published, but her column continues via one of her daughters.
The Toledo Symphony League has planned a Russian-style spring luncheon when it presents Olga Kern: Keys to Van Cliburn Gold at noon on April 15 in the Stranahan Great Hall.
The menu includes a Minsk Star Salad with tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion in a light horseradish dressing over mixed greens; Ukraine Chicken layered with spinach and cheese and served over Eastern European noodles; and fresh berries marinated with a sweet vodka and a Blinchik Vishnya (pancake with cherry compote). Cost is $40 per person.
A shopping boutique takes place at 10 a.m. and a social hour starts at 11. Ms. Kern will speak and perform at 1 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Toledo Symphony League music education program.
For reservations, call the symphony office at 419-241-1272. Deadline is Friday.