Peace Meals: A Book of Recipes for Cooking and Connecting

Junior League of Houston

Everything but the Elves

Peace Meals: A Book of Recipes for Cooking and Connecting

by the Junior League of Houston
Ingram Book Co., $39.45.

The Houston Junior League, an 83-year-old women's service organization, has an illustrious history of publishing a terrific cookbook about once a decade. Stop and Smell the Rose­mary won numerous prizes in 1996, and the group's new endeavor, Peace Meals, raises the bar yet again. It's a slick, opulently photographed, large-format tome that would grace any coffee table, but more importantly, it's just full of appealing recipes guaranteed to inspire readers to roll up their sleeves, get cooking, and break bread with loved ones.

There's no hospitality quite like that of South­ern ladies, and this is a compilation of stylish, sophisticated, but not particularly complicated dishes from busy women who like to cook and entertain graciously. To prepare these offerings, do you need to know your way around a kitchen and a serious grocery and/or farmers' market? Yes. Do you need to fuss? Not really. Recipes are big on deep flavors and fresh ingredients, such as the amazing avocado-cucumber soup with cilantro or chicken salad punched up with tarragon and fresh cranberries. Chapters – with titles such as "Breakfast and Brunch," "Appetizers and Cock­tails," and "From the Garden" – propose menu and party ideas along with clearly well-tested recipes for such occasions as girls' night in or hot dinner on a cold night.

In addition to more than 200 recipes by the group's members, there are numerous contributions from notable Houston restaurateurs adapted for home kitchens, such as Monica Pope's beet tabouli, Robert del Grande's ginger margarita, Michael Cordúa's churrasco beef tenderloin, and Tony Vallone's Snapper Sheridan.

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Christmas, cooking, cookbook, gift

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