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Book Review: Ruby’s Juke Joint: Americana Cookbook by Ruby Dee

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How much more fun is there than going into your kitchen, putting a CD into your player, grabbing a glass of wine, and rockin’ and two-steppin’ around the island? Oh, wait, this is a cookbook and I’m supposed to be making dinner. Nevertheless, I’m doing both because I’m about to start cooking from Ruby’s Juke Joint: Americana Cookbook as I’m listening to the companion music CD provided with it. You see, there is more to Ruby Dee, she’s not only a fantastic cook but she’s also part of the music scene known as Grammy-nominated “Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers,” though not to be confused with the Grammy and Emmy winning actress of the same name.

For the purpose of the review we are asked to test three recipes. For the first recipe, I made “Blue Cheese, Pecan, Apple-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Pork Chops.” I took two butterfly chops and seared them on both sides; then I stuffed them with a combination of blue cheese, pecans and apples. I wrapped the stuffed chops with a slice of bacon and placed in pan. While baking in the oven I deglazed the pan with wine and then added broth and butter. Oh my, the end result was very tasty and the chops were fork tender.

Ruby suggested serving the chops with “Potato Pancakes” so this ended up being my second test recipe. It has been a long time since I’ve made potato pancakes so I was eager to try Ruby’s recipe. Using a food processor, I grated the potatoes and then added the remaining ingredients of onion, eggs, flour, salt and pepper. There was also an addition of a pinch of baking powder which was different from the recipe I used before. The pancakes ended up being crispy and yummy. They certainly did go well with the stuffed pork chops.

The third recipe I tested was “Ginger Snaps.” I was attracted to the recipe because there are two ingredients that normally don’t go into ginger snaps and those are oil and dry mustard. I was very curious how the cookies will end up being crisp when I use oil. Well, to my surprise the cookies are crisp and have a zing to them. I suspect it’s the dry mustard that does that. By the way, these cookies also have cinnamon in them which isn’t a normal ingredient either. I have to tell you, this is now my favorite ginger snap recipe.

Ruby Dee, who has the bragging rights of cooking on the “Rachel Ray Show” where she shared her infamous “Ruby’s Thanksgiving Leftover Enchiladas,” has given us recipes for good ol’ homecookin.’ As I perused the rest of the book I noticed the recipes are simple and all the ingredients can either be found in the kitchen pantry or purchased at a local grocery store. “Ruby’s Juke Joint” is an easy to handle cookbook and sits well on a book stand. The colored photographs of the recipes look great and help to see what the end result will look like.

Ruby’s passion for cooking and music meld brilliantly in Ruby’s Juke Joint: Americana Cookbook. Her enthusiasm for good food prepared in the home comes from the heart and she shares it beautifully with us. Of course, the music CD is the added bonus that will bring a smile to your face. Good food and good music is the order for today.

Ruby’s Juke Joint: Americana Cookbook
Ruby Dee
Bando Press (2012)
ISBN 9780983782407

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About Cristina Lanzi