Sharon Thompson: Cooking, gardening get top bill at L.V. Harkness event

Herald-Leader food writerOctober 10, 2012 

L.V. Harkness & Co. will celebrate gardens and cooking at its fall festival Saturday.

Cookbook author Christopher Hirsheimer and garden designer Jon Carloftis will be at the store, 531 West Short Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hirsheimer, a founding editor of Saveur magazine and author of the Canal House cookbook series, will sign copies of her newest book, Canal House Cooks Every Day.

Guests also may tour the new rooftop vegetable garden designed by Carloftis. Call (859) 225-7474 or go to LVharkness.com.

Ideas for the holiday table

As soon as October is over, cooks get busy preparing for the holidays. From lavish Thanksgiving dinners to homemade food gifts, cooks are prepping their kitchens and pantries, and poring over cookbooks.

During the holiday season, cooks take extra care in making dishes that are as attractive as they are tasty.

■ Angie Vives of Frankfort has a cookbook designed for turning food into art. Fantasias: The Art of Fruit and Vegetable Carving has instructions in English and Spanish, and every step has a color photograph. It is $60 and available by contacting Vives at (502) 213-3864 or Vivesangie@yahoo.com.

■ Barbara Harper-Bach of Lexington has added another cookbook to her lineup that's filled with ideas for holiday baking.

Pat-A-Cake Clinic has recipes for biscuits, breads, coffee cakes, yeast rolls and heirloom cakes. Harper-Bach said the book has the artisan bread recipe of Angelica Guica of Lexington's Teodora Bakery-Café, as well as a tutti frutti cake of Celebrity Cruise Lines. Also included is cheese bread made by Anita Madden's cook Virginia Shelby.

The book is $42 and available at bookstores, gift shops and at Bluegrasscookingclinic.com.

Check, maybe chuck, spice cabinet contents

The professionals at Spice Islands recommend cooks take inventory of their spice cabinets and clean out old spices. Spices and other cooking and baking ingredients lose their potency and effectiveness over time, so don't let outdated spices compromise your signature holiday dishes.

■ Look at the best-buy dates; if your spices don't have them, they're probably old. If you're still not sure, check the color and aroma. Fresh spices have a bolder color, and they should give off a rich smell immediately.

■ For optimal flavor, use ground spices within two years and whole spices within three to four years. This assumes proper storage in a cool, dry and dark space. If your spices are near heat, perhaps in a rack above the stove, the heat from the range will quickly (1 to 2 months) destroy volatile oils, which are the most important spice flavor components.

■ Spices can get expensive, so pace yourself and stock up each week on essential and popular holiday spices. There's cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves for pies, quick breads and spice cookies. Don't forget vanilla for everything from cookies to candied trail mix. Cinnamon sticks are great when serving hot beverages, and they also can serve as stirrers. Poultry seasoning is vital for dressing.

Rediscover the state's best

Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley, known as the Cookbook Ladies, have traveled the country, state-by-state, in search of the nation's best recipes. It took 22 years to complete their goal of preserving America's food heritage. In the process, they produced the popular Best of the Best state cookbook series and the Recipe Hall of Fame cookbook collection.

McKee and Moseley visited kitchens, local restaurants and bookstores, bed and breakfasts, chamber of commerce offices and tourist bureaus for the possibility of discovering a popular cookbook or a local recipe that people loved.

The women first published the Best of the Best From Kentucky cookbook in 2005 ,and now a completely updated edition features all-new recipes. It's $16.95 and available at bookstores. Here's a recipe the women chose from Victorian Quarters Bed & Breakfast in Henderson.

RECIPE

Sweet potato slaw

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Grated peel from ½ lemon

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 cups shredded, peeled, uncooked sweet potatoes

1 medium apple, peeled and chopped

1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained

½ cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, combine first 7 ingredients; blend until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine sweet potatoes, apple, pineapple and pecans. Add dressing, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: Flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com.

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