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Review & Giveaway: Gourmet on a Hot Plate by Judy Alter

Judy Alter
Genre: Cookbook / Cooking Tips / Tiny Kitchen
Publisher: Alter Ego Press
Date of Publication: November 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 132

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Gourmet on a Hot Plate is a collection of recipes and kitchen tips compiled after living for some time in a 600-square-foot cottage, with a tiny kitchen, no stove, no dishwasher, and barely any counter space. Given these limitations, Judy Alter developed a new approach to food, one that let her get in touch with the food itself. She does not have an Insta-Pot, an air-fryer, or a microwave. Her recipes call for using either a magnetic induction hot plate or a toaster oven. In the introduction, she explains her choices for making the best use of her tiny space. 
The collection begins with appetizers because that’s where Alter began her new cooking adventure. Gradually she branched out to main dishes, light suppers, soups and salads, and vegetable side dishes. Most recipes serve two or three. There’s a suggested list of cooking tools along with lists of what to keep on hand in your tiny pantry, your refrigerator, and your freezer, and a small section on condiments and cooking hints.
These pages will guide you to making your own spaghetti sauce—or brightening up a jar of prepared sauce—to making last-minute casseroles and simmer-all-day soups. Want Stroganoff but can’t afford the expensive beef? Alter shows you how to make it with hamburger. Love tuna? She’s got recipes for you. Sections on pasta, eggs, and appetizer trays offer practical and helpful choices for casual entertaining.
Above all, this is a practical guide for cooking with joy when you find yourself in a tiny space.

Love cooking? Love the minimalist lifestyle? Your tiny kitchen doesn’t need to limit your gourmet dreams. Judy Alter’s Gourmet On a Hot Plate will inspire you with big ideas to satisfy everyone around the table. — Susan Wittig Albert, author of Queen Anne’s Lace

Whether you cook on a hot plate or have access to a full kitchen, this gem of a cookbook contains great recipes for those of us who cook for one. – T.R. Thompson

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I’m the type of person who watches pretty much every cooking video that shows up on my Facebook feed. Have you noticed that most of those meals are cooked on hotplates instead of a traditional cooking range? I have a feeling that Alter has been working on this cookbook long before hotplate cooking became all the rage. Why? Because her recipes are down-home cooking dishes, not the latest street food infused with some random essence you’ve never eaten before prepared with a gastronomical twist. And if you know that going in, you won’t be disappointed with this recipe book. I don’t know if the author used the word “gourmet” in the title with tongue in cheek, but I can say that you can bring any of these dishes to a potluck and not be ashamed.

As someone who learned to cook by my mother’s side, I appreciate cookbooks that give exact measurements and exact cooking times. Sure, I know how to use my senses when cooking, but I like my first experience with a new recipe to be scientific. If you’re a cooking noob, I definitely recommend familiarizing yourself with basic kitchen skills before cracking this book open. Heck, watch a YouTube video or two on how to pre-heat cooking surfaces, how to sear properly, etc. Trust me. Alter talks to you as someone who is already familiar with the kitchen.

My favorite parts in this cookbook are where she writes a few paragraphs about a particular dish she likes to prepare and all the different variations that are possible. I like hearing the backstory of where that recipe came from and her little tidbits of advice that stem from hits or misses that occurred when cooking that dish for her friends or family. To be honest, I wish she wrote the whole cookbook in this manner. I have read several cookbooks in that format and they are among my favorite. But having read the introduction and note to reader in the beginning, I understand her decision. Gorgeous pictures of food in a book means the readers pay more at the cash register.

If you think the appetizer section is just a bunch of cheese dishes, I wouldn’t argue with you, but I urge you to press on. Alter’s main dishes start cozy and familiar, and later transition gently to more exotic fare. I like the confident and easy way she instructs the reader on how to prepare pasta dishes, because that’s how they should be approached. That’s how cooking should be approached. As someone who doesn’t eat salad often, that section was an interesting read and I look forward to trying out some recipes.

My other favorite section in the book is her “Staples – Stocking the Tiny Kitchen” page. Alter has a short list of what you should keep in the fridge, in the cupboard, and in the freezer. I think that for the beginner cook or the cook who has found themselves in a smaller than usual kitchen, her suggestions are fantastic. This little book will have a place among my glossy cookbooks, but I think I will spend more time online: http://www.gourmetonahotplate.blogspot.com.

Without formal culinary training, Judy Alter has cooked her way through life, feeding family and friends at everything from casual dinners al fresco to elaborate meals for twenty. An award-winning author and publisher, she jokes she’ll come back in another life as a chef.
Today Alter finds herself cooking in a four-by-six kitchen where zoning laws forbid built-ins but allow anything that plugs in. So she cooks with a hot plate, toaster oven, and a large refrigerator/freezer. Given these limitations, she has developed a new approach to food, one that she says lets her get in touch with the food itself. By choice, she does not have an Insta-Pot, an air-fryer, a microwave. Her menu choices are dictated by her cooking facilities—and she loves it.
She shares her tiny kitchen tips and recipes, developed over the past couple of years, in Gourmet on a Hot Plate. Alter is the author of three previous cookbooks: Cooking My Way through Life with Kids and Books, Texas is Chili Country, and Extraordinary Texas Chefs,and a contributor to Bake, Love, Write and We’d Rather Be Writing. Her recipe for Doris’ Casserole has been included in so many books it’s almost an American classic by now.
Be part of her ongoing cooking adventure at the Gourmet on a Hot Plate blog, where she encourages discussion and welcomes recipes, comments, and questions.

 ║Website ║ Facebook Judy’s Stew Blog 
║ Twitter Goodreads Amazon Author Page 
Gourmet on a Hot Plate Blog————————————-
2 Signed Copies, 1 eBook Copy
APRIL 24-May 4, 2019


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Excerpt & Giveaway: Breakfast in Texas by Terry Thompson-Anderson

Terry Thompson-Anderson
  Genre: Cookbook / Southwest Cuisine
Publisher: The University of Texas Press
Date of Publication: April 18, 2017
Number of Pages: 312
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Texans love the morning meal, whether it’s bacon and eggs (often eaten in a breakfast taco) or something as distinctively nontraditional as saag paneer omelets, pon haus, or goat curry. A Lone Star breakfast can be a time for eating healthy, or for indulging in decadent food and drink. And with Texas’s rich regional and cultural diversity, an amazing variety of dishes graces the state’s breakfast and brunch tables. The first Texas cookbook dedicated exclusively to the morning meal, Breakfast in Texas gathers nearly one hundred recipes that range from perfectly prepared classics to the breakfast foods of our regional cuisines (Southern, Mexican, German, Czech, Indian, and Asian among them) to stand-out dishes from the state’s established and rising chefs and restaurants.

Terry Thompson-Anderson organizes the book into sections that cover breakfast and brunch libations (with and without alcohol); simple, classic, and fancy egg presentations; pancakes, French toast, and waffles; meat lover’s dishes; seafood and shellfish; vegan dishes and sides; and pastries. The recipes reference locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and Thompson-Anderson provides enjoyable notes about the chefs who created them or the cultural history they represent. She also offers an expert primer on cooking eggs, featuring an encounter with Julia Child, as well as a selection of theme brunches (the boozy brunch, the make-ahead brunch, New Year’s Day brunch, Mother’s Day brunch with seasonal ingredients, teenage daughter’s post-slumber party breakfast, and more). Sandy Wilson’s color photographs of many of the dishes and the chefs and restaurants who serve them provide a lovely visual counterpoint to the appetizing text.

Praise for Breakfast in Texas:
**A James Beard Cookbook Award Finalist**
“Bring a Texas-sized appetite to the table for Breakfast in Texas! A combination of home-style cooking and favorite dishes from restaurants across the great state, Breakfast in Texas is packed with recipes for simple to spectacular egg dishes, creative cocktails, meat lovers’ feasts, and pancakes and pastries, as well as vegan breakfast and brunch ideas. Beautiful photographs, mouth-watering recipes, and great menu and party ideas make this a must-have for your cookbook shelf.”
-Virginia Willis, chef and James Beard Award–winning cookbook author 

“I thoroughly enjoyed Terry Thompson-Anderson’s latest cookbook, Breakfast in Texas. I’m sure many of these recipes are going to become signature dishes for my family, as well as my loyal restaurant customers. Relish every story; enjoy every bite. This cookbook is Texas at the breakfast table.”
-Monica Pope, chef and author of Eat Where Your Food Lives

“Terry Thompson-Anderson’s epic breakfast book spans the cultures of Texas, as well as its regions. With recipes that run from simple to more elaborate, and range from libations to pastries, there’s something for everyone. Plus, Breakfast in Texas is a good read, with all sorts of fascinating information about Texas and its rich and colorful history.”
-Paula Lambert, owner of the Mozzarella Company and author of The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide

Introduction from Breakfast in Texas

By Terry Thompson-Anderson


A morning meal, the nutritionists tell us, is essential. It kick-starts our brains so that we can think, function, and work productively until lunchtime. But the morning meal that we know of as breakfast is much more than intellectual stimulation, well-being, or bacon and eggs. The history of breakfast in America parallels the history of the country. The North developed breakfasts featuring sausage and hash brown potatoes, while the South added grits, ham, and its beloved biscuits. The Creole culture of New Orleans introduced the concept of brunch to America with grand, leisurely, multi-course meals served later in the morning with exotic cocktails and special coffee concoctions, while westward expansion introduced Mexican and Czech influences and cooking the breakfast meal over open fires in cast-iron cooking vessels.


When settlers from other countries, with varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds, first began to colonize Texas, they found a thriving Mexican culture in place with its tradition of rich, hearty, and spicy morning meals. For example, German immigrants who came to Texas in the mid-1800s brought their skills as sausage makers, and introduced potato pancakes and Apfelpfannkuchen (German puffy pancakes with apples). Czech immigrants introduced their timeless pastries, such as kuchen, kolaches, and klobasnikis (sausage-filled pastries). Today, though the definitive history of brunch in Texas is far from documented, Texas is a melting pot of breakfast styles reflecting the cultural diversity of the state itself.


In our travels researching, photographing, and interviewing people in the Lone Star State, Sandy and I ate a lot of breakfasts, and often shared some heavenly brunches, across the many miles we covered. We were struck with the regional and cultural diversity of the dishes served for the morning meal, both in mom-and-pop diners in the small towns and in luxury hotels and eateries in the big cities. We fell equally in love with the breakfast tacos in San Antonio, the saag paneer omelets in Houston, the pon haus in Austin, the delicious shrimp and grits in the unlikely location of Lubbock, the goat curry in Fort Worth, the caramel-drizzled donuts made from biscuit dough in El Paso, the blintzes in Dallas, and the many unique and innovative versions of eggs Benedict everywhere. We began to realize that breakfast is the all-day meal. And it often substitutes for dinner.


We shared an enthusiasm for trying many of these dishes at home to serve to our families and friends. Then we thought perhaps others, too, might like to make their morning meals more of an “experience” to be shared with the special people in their lives. In writing and providing the photographs for this book, we hope to inspire a breakfast revolution celebrating the many cultures of Texas—a revolution that will bring our readers together as families or groups of friends for a morning meal, or a leisurely Sunday respite before returning to the workplace on Monday. For those times, we’ve included a selection of tasty libations so that you can start your brunch experience off with a toast to many more shared morning meals.


Along the way, we also noticed that breakfast and brunch are getting a lot of attention these days. And it’s certainly not the same old bacon and eggs or bowl of dried cereal swimming in milk and sugar. Savory ingredients like meats (even game meats and fowl), fish and shellfish, and veggies, often topped with rich sauces, are being added to the breakfast table. Even when they’re in a hurry, it seems people are wanting a memorable taste sensation in the morning so they can start the day with a satisfied smile—even if it’s a mobile handheld breakfast in this day of mobile everything lifestyles.


Anthony Bourdain, America’s popular chef/food adventurer, is a great fan of the morning meal. We certainly agreed with his sentiments when he said, “What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?”


Terry Thompson-Anderson is the author of nine previous cookbooks, including Texas on the Table: People, Places, and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State, which was a finalist for the 2015 James Beard Book Award for American Cooking.

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  May 30-June 13, 2017
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The Whole Enchilada: Fresh and Nutritious Southwestern Cuisine by Angelina LaRue

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Fresh and Nutritious Southwestern Cuisine
Angelina LaRue
Fresh and Healthy Southwestern Cuisine
Genre: Cookbook
# of pages: 192



Bright, full-flavored, subtle-yet-spicy Tex-Mex explosion!


Bright spices and clean finishes accent the unique and complex flavor profiles of the Southwest. Food columnist Angelina LaRue knows that cooking delicious and healthy food seems difficult at times, but her cookbook includes simple and easy recipes that will remind you why Tex-Mex is as popular as it is! Sometimes people describe Mexican food as heavy or unhealthy, and, yes, it may well be when it comes from a can. With LaRue’s inspiration and recipes such as “Oven-Fried Tomatillos with Asadero Cheese and Oregano Oil” and “Tex-Mex Cassoulet,” you too can turn normal Mexican dishes into updated specialties—simple to prepare, but with a zing of flavor!

About the book
The vibrant colors, earthy ingredients, and glorious aromas of Southwestern cuisine will sizzle right off the pages of this book and straight onto your table. The natural flavors are both savory and sweet, with simple ingredients that lend themselves to sauces, beverages, main dishes, meatless options, side dishes, snacks, and desserts.
Praise for the book
“Angelina’s spicy dishes just tickle me pink—fun and easy to cook, with fresh ingredients and a healthy heaping of chili peppers. Pass some more of those corn tortillas, please!”
Paula Deen, best-selling author of Paula Deen Cuts the Fat: 250 Favorite Recipes All Lightened Up
“An exciting and nutritious approach to Southwestern cuisine.”
Tom Perini, owner of Perini Ranch Steakhouse and author of Texas Cowboy Cooking
“This book is a must for your cookbook library. It’s obvious that Angelina has a passion for Southwestern cuisine. Her recipes are authentic, fresh, and party-friendly—perfect for your next casual get-together.”
Annette Joseph, Today show guest and author of Picture Perfect Parties
“The recipes Angelina has created are simple, fresh, stunningly beautiful and nutritious. She has poured her heart and soul into her first cookbook. Her love for food shines through in each page. I look forward to many nights around the table, enjoying dinner prepared out of The Whole Enchilada.”
Tara Royer Steele, The Pie Queen, owner of Royers Round Top Café and Royers Pie Haven



Angela writes two weekly food columns, one for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal and the other is featured in the Idalou Beacon. She is a regular contributor for the Lubbock Magazine and formerly a Skirt! Setter / Blogger for Morris Publications. Angela also performs various cooking workshops and has been invited to judge cooking competitions. In addition, Angela is an aspiring food stylist and photographer.
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