A plan to offer you some outstanding brownie recipes went awry after I took another exploration through Renée Behnke’s “Memorable Recipes to Share with Family and Friends,” which was highlighted in this column in 2009 when the book was first published. (I promise, I’ll bring you Behnke’s Black and White Cocoa Bars next week, along with a few other “to die for” brownie recipes from other equally outstanding bakers.) With garden-fresh tomatoes and zucchini, not to mention fresh herbs thriving, Behnke’s recipes for Sautéed Tiny Tomatoes with Chile Flakes and Zucchini Fritters looked particularly enticing, as did Lemon and Sage Cornish Game Hens, from the book’s cover. These recipes, along with the other 140 exceptional recipes in Behnke’s book, do much to further illustrate just what makes them memorable, as do the book’s 125 full-color photographs, by Angie Norwood Brown, for dishes that include appetizers, soups, salads, sides, main courses and desserts. Behnke’s elegant, easy style is inspiring and will appeal to all kinds of cooks, from those of us who cook mostly for family and friends, to those who regularly entertain at home. Particularly noteworthy is Behnke’s do-ahead tips and sophisticated, yet unpretentious ideas for decorating. Seeing the book’s image of a table set for dinner adorned with little more than glimmering votive candles and clear vases filled with fresh-cut hydrangeas was particularly exciting, inasmuch as many of our own backyard gardens are already burgeoning with vibrant flowers (including statement-making hydrangeas) this time of the year. As the president emeritus of Sur La Table, a serious cook’s store selling quality goods for the kitchen and table, Behnke, no doubt, can create a memorable meal for any one, at any time. Thanks to Benhnke’s willingness to share, so can we. Writes Behnke, “What I want most to accomplish with this book is to give you the confidence, the building blocks, the tools to help you pull together great dinner parties, celebratory luncheons, or any other delicious gathering of friends. To learn more about Renée Behnke, or the cookbook, including where-to-purchase information, visit the publishers website at www.andrewsmcmeel.com, or http://reneebehnke.com/.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.