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Cool recipes entice taste buds at brunch, high tea or cocktail hour

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Blackberry lemon scones
Blackberry lemon scones

Soon after a couple announces their engagement, their families and friends host receptions, dinners and showers to honour the occasion.

When the couple settles down after the wedding, they plan to reciprocate. While some throw an elaborate cocktail party, others prefer to invite a few guests at a time for brunch, and socialize in a relaxed milieu. Regardless of option, hosts derive pleasure treating company to tasty delicacies.

Sweet and Tart and Cookies & Cocktails are two recent hardcover books that are chock full of innovative recipes that fit the bill. Distributed by Raincoast Books in Canada, the stunning presentations and colourful illustrations appeal to the senses.

Sweet and Tart by Carla Snyder with photographs by Nicole Franzen includes an array of recipes enhanced with citrus, whereas Cookies & Cocktails is a compendium of “recipes for good times”.

Both books include comprehensive, albeit, easy-to-follow directions. As Snyder notes in her introduction, “Sweet and Tart is a book for bakers of every level, but with the understanding that work and family schedules are busier than ever.”  The author informs how many minutes each recipe takes to prepare and the equipment needed.

'Cookies & Cocktails' book
‘Cookies & Cocktails’ book RAINCOAST BOOKS IN CANADA PHOTO

It’s also comforting to know, there is no need to fetch numerous newfangled devices. However, she does recommend some cool gadgets that ensure perfection and ease of preparation. A case in point is the microplane zester. The author notes, “It’s the best tool you will ever buy. It effortlessly takes just the peel from a citrus fruit and not the bitter white pith that lies underneath.”

As for ingredients, she advocates using large eggs to get the best results and kosher salt rather than regular iodized table salt. The latter are just a few of the author’s helpful suggestions. No doubt, even experienced cooks are bound to pick up tips but Snyder’s advice is particularly timely for novices.

Among the chapter listings are bars and cookies, pastries, cobblers, tarts, pies, cakes, chilled and frozen desserts, muffins, scones, breakfast breads and savouries. The key ingredient in each of the 70 entries is citrus, mainly lemon, but also orange, grapefruit and lime. After preparing the lemon scones with blackberries, this writer can vouch for the author’s great guidelines and the tasty results.

Cookies & Cocktails lists more than 60 recipes, such as cookies and confectionery that can serve as gifts as well as delectable cocktail concoctions. The illustrations prove helpful for presentation purposes.

Among the catchy cocktail selections is The Big O. The mixture takes a jiffy to prepare and the visual effect is dazzling. A recipe for one consists of four or five  fresh raspberries, two ounces of premium vodka, and one or two ounces chilled champagne. Muddle the berries until they are mashed to a purée, and transfer to a small, shallow bowl. Dip the rim of a chilled cocktail glass into the purée. Add the vodka without disturbing the prepared rim. Pour in the champagne, so that it floats on top and serve immediately.