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Mrs. Santa's Book Bag

By MM Pack, Fri., Dec. 7, 2012

Mrs. Santa's Book Bag

Glow: Tastes From a Tiny Boathouse

by Karey B. Johnson (Glow Boat House Press, 90 pp., $14.50)

If you've eaten at Glow Restaurant in Rockport, Texas, here's your opportunity to re-create some of chef Karey B. Johnson's signature dishes. If you haven't made the pilgrimage, this is a chance to see what you're missing. Either way, this pocket-size paperback helps you get your Gulf Coast flavors on in refreshing new ways, and it makes a great stocking stuffer for seafood lovers.

Johnson, a Houston native who was a caterer in London for many years, is captivated by the culinary offerings of her current coastal home, and the restaurant's changing daily menu focuses almost completely on what's available from the surrounding land and sea. Although the restaurant serves Texas game and wild pork dishes, the book's entrée recipes are all about the seafood Johnson gets from her fisherfolk neighbors, including several varieties you may not have tried, such as the mullet marinated like anchovies, or the rich fish rillettes prepared from Spanish mackerel. There are also new treatments of old favorites, like Gulf grouper roasted in butter and snapper served with grapefruit/chile sauce.

Johnson includes the simple bread recipe that she makes every day for restaurant guests, as well as four cocktails using local ingredients (of course, one is named Afterglow). There's a useful section on fish-friendly condiments, like Sriracha rouille and pequin chile syrup. She explains how to make your own sea salt, fillet a fish, and fold a cloth napkin into a sailboat. The book is loaded with lovely color photos, not only of the dishes and the restaurant, but also of scenes of local beauty, guaranteed to make you want to jump in the car and head for the coast. Johnson pays homage to her suppliers (whom she calls "food heroes") with an extensive list of contacts.

Glow restaurant is tiny and the book is small, but in both, the talent and flavors are huge. Let's hope the book's next edition will expand to include even more ways to apply international style and technique to local Gulf Coast ingredients.

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