Updated cookbook is jammed with info


September 25, 2002|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Call me sentimental, but I've always liked the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. It was the first real cookbook I ever had, a gift from my sister-in-law soon after I moved into my first apartment 20 years ago. The book might not have had the sophistication of, say, The Joy of Cooking, but it had a lot to offer a beginning cook -- easy recipes, helpful illustrations and a wide range of dishes.

The book has been updated a couple times since I received mine, and a new edition is about to be released -- the 12th since the book was introduced in 1930.

The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Meredith Publishing Group, 2002) has the same red plaid cover, but much inside has changed. The new book has 1,200 recipes -- 900 new ones -- in 21 chapters reflecting trends toward spicier ethnic cuisines, vegetarian dishes, meals that can be prepared quickly and using fresh ingredients. There are more than 500 photographs, a larger chapter on cooking basics and a new chapter on crockery cooking.

While the writing isn't eloquent, the many charts, lists and tip boxes are packed with information. This book tells you how to stock a pantry, choose vegetables, handle foods safely, even how to arrange charcoal on a grill. There are photographs of various cuts of meat, different kinds of rice and exotic fruit. Each recipe includes nutritional information and dietary exchanges and icons that tell whether the dish is low-fat, no-fat or fast.

For the most part, the recipes still aren't flashy. The book even has the same recipes for Barbecued Ribs and Blueberry Rolls that appeared in the second edition in 1937.

Even modern dishes like the Asian-inspired Baked Coconut Shrimp With Curried Apricot Sauce don't stray from the pantry staples.

Nevertheless, this book is a vast improvement over the one I learned to cook with and makes a respectable effort to reflect up-to-date food trends.

The New Cook Book comes in a ring-bound edition for $29.95 and a softcover edition for $16.95. The book will be available in bookstores, major retail outlets and cooking stores starting Oct. 1.

Baked Coconut Shrimp With Curried Apricot Sauce

Preparation time: 30 minutes; bake time: 10 minutes

Makes 6 servings

24 fresh or frozen jumbo shrimp in shells

1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

3 tablespoons apricot preserves

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 slightly beaten egg whites

Thaw shrimp if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

For sauce, in a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, apricot preserves and curry powder. Cover and chill until read to serve. Spread the oil in the bottom of a 15-inch by 10-inch by 1-inch baking pan; set pan aside.

In a large shallow dish, combine the coconut, cornstarch, sugar and salt. In another small shallow dish, place the egg whites. Dip shrimp into the egg whites; coat with coconut mixture, pressing the mixture firmly into the shrimp. Arrange shrimp in prepared pan.

Bake in a 400-degree oven about 10 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and coconut is golden, turning once. Serve with sauce.

Per serving: 545 calories; 42 grams total fat (11 grams saturated); 172 milligrams cholesterol; 585 milligrams sodium; 19 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams fiber; 23 grams protein

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