It's been nearly 30 years since the Junior League of Chattanooga published a cookbook, but next month, a new one will be available to the public.
"Seasoned to Taste" will contain recipes from League members throughout the Scenic City, as well as some local foodies and restaurants, including Table 2, Southern Star and the Terminal. Two hundred recipes were selected, by committee, from nearly 1,200 submissions. The process has taken about two years.
"Not only is it a great fundraising piece, but it's a wonderful calling card for the community," said Billie Rose, who coordinated efforts to create "Seasoned to Taste." "We realized there was not an all-encompassing, current snapshot of Chattanooga in cookbook form."
The book, as the title suggests, will be divided according to season, so rather than grouping all soups, cooks will easily see which dishes are most appropriate for winter, spring, summer or fall. It will include facts and tips about the city of Chattanooga.
The league will introduce the cookbook at an event called Savoring the Scenic City, scheduled 7:30-11 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Warehouse Row Event Space on Market Street. It will feature a selection of hors d'oeuvres from the cookbook, wine, beer and a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, as well as a DJ, dancing and silent auction. Tickets are $50 per person. Find out more at jlchatt.org.
Members of the media were invited to a tasting party at the Junior League House on March 1. Some selections from "Seasoned to Taste" were offered. These are impressions from staff writer Holly Leber and staff photographer Jake Daniels.
Catch a Man Dip
This favorite recipe, by member Molly Beard, earlier appeared in "Dinner on the Diner." It featured sharp cheddar, mayonnaise, bacon bits and cayenne pepper. The dip was very good, with a nice lingering spice, hot enough to make one notice but not enough to cause tears. Though it might not "catch" a man, it would certainly entice once, and enough of it would probably slow him down.
Smokey's Sausage Cups
These bite-size treats by Molly Beard were like a macho pastry: a flaky, crunchy cup filled with a slightly spiced sausage and cream cheese. The meaty top and flaky bottom made for a good taste combination, and the mixture of textures was nice, too. The tomato garnish was pretty but didn't affect the taste.
Savory Walnut Muffins
These savory walnut muffins, submitted by recipe chair Ginger Birnbaum, courtesy of an aunt-in-law, were very tasty. The small size provided more crisp surface area, often the best part of a muffin. The flavors, including onion and parmesan, were subtle but not at all bland. These would be a great alternative to bread in fine restaurants.
Junior League member Amy Jackson marinated miniature shrimp and celery in a mixture of mustard, vinegar and tarragon. The vinaigrette had a nice tang, and the size of the mini-shrimp complemented the texture of the celery very well.
Steve Nichols at Koch's Bakery baked these cookies from a recipe by member Amanda Kelley. They tasted like an oatmeal raisin cookie without the raisins (and aren't the chocolate chips just so much better?) A taste of coconut was detected as well. The cookies were crunchy without being crispy, soft but not undercooked. Koch's will sell the Cowboy Cookies and donate profits to the Junior League.
"Seasoned to Taste" costs $29.95, plus tax and shipping.
Submitted by marketing chair Lindsay Wolford, these had an excellent texture. The mushroom was neither too firm nor too soft. Though they were tasty, the filling was a bit overpowered with mayonnaise and cheese. More crab please.
Dates in Brioche
These almond-stuffed dates, offered by Chattafoodie owner Chrissie Betts, were wrapped in bacon and baked. They were very sweet and almost seemed like a caramel treat. And, like caramel, they were chewy, but not as hard as gummy bears.
Hot Bacon and Swiss
This mixture of bacon, cream cheese, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise and green onion topped with a Ritz cracker crust was created by member Catherine Fore. The two cheeses and the mayo seemed to be the main taste. That, along with the stringy texture, made it very dip-like, as if it should be served on a cracker.
A mixture of horseradish, dry mustard, apple jelly and pineapple preserves might sound unappealing, but the contrasting flavors complemented one another oddly well. Recipe chair Ginger Birnbaum blended the ingredients by hand and served the sauce over cream cheese. The horseradish was just strong enough, and the tang of the cream cheese was a good mix.
Razzle Dazzle Bars
Member Jasmin Rippon said these dessert bars were "super easy" to make and contained only a half-cup of sugar. Perhaps a bit too sticky for finger food, these boasted a sweet, fruity taste with just a hint of salt to temper the sweetness. The oatmeal crust had a nice crunch to it, which countered the soft texture of the preserves.
Bleu Cheese Bacon Puffs
Contributed by cookbook coordinator Billie Rose, these pate au choux pastries were made with bleu cheese and bacon. In our sampling, the cheese was a tad overwhelming and the bacon buried underneath. The pastry as a whole seemed a touch undercooked, making it our least favorite sampling of the evening.