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Book reviews: When tradition is trendy

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The past—in the form of classics, traditions and history—has inspired several recent books that put food and drink into historical and contemporary context with recipes that have present-day appeal.

The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink from the Restaurant Owned by American Family Farmers with Nevin  Martell (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013). This book explores traditional homegrown fare and provides information about seasonal, sustainable menu choices. Washington, DC-based Farmers Restaurant Group executive chef Joe Goetze developed the recipes for this cookbook, focusing on ingredients from family farms, ranches and fisheries.  Recipes include Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Long-Roasted Pork Prime Rib Chops and Dutch Apple-Caramel Pie. Founding Farmers restaurant features hand-crafted cocktails inspired by the pre-Prohibition era, and farm-inspired American food. The restaurant is owned by a collective of more than 42,000 American family farmers.

A Sweet Taste of History: More than 100 Elegant Dessert Recipes from America’s Earliest Days, by Chef Walter Staib (Lyons Press, 2013). Walter Staib is proprietor of Philadelphia’s City Tavern and the host of “A Taste of History” on PBS.  He delves into the history of recipes such as Thomas Jefferson’s Floating Island or Snow Eggs and Martha Washington’s Chocolate Mousse Cake. Other recipes—Parmesan Ice Cream comes to mind—may date back to the late 1700s, but they have a definite trendy vibe as well. Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Tartlets and Pistachio Crescents, anyone?

Prohibition in Dallas & Fort Worth: Blind Tigers, Bootleggers and Bathtub Gin by Rita Cook and Jeffrey Yarbrough (American Palate, 2013). This book takes a look at a local history of Prohibition in 1920s Dallas and Fort Worth, and provides drink history as well as classic and contemporary cocktail recipes. Mixologist contributors include Curtis Cheney, Brad Hensarling, Jason  Kosmas, Tyler Lott, Michael Martensen, Charlie Papaceno and Louise Owens. Today’s customers can appreciate recipes such as Curtis Cheney’s Elderflower Tickle and Tyler Lott’s Lavender Aviation.

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