I spent a couple of nights last week curled up in bed with a great new book. It wasn’t the latest suspense novel or fantasy fiction. It was a cookbook, Libbie Summers’ new and delicious “Sweet and Vicious.”
Summers’ “Whole Hog Cookbook” took a blue ribbon and with “Sweet and Vicious,” Summers drapes herself in girly pink taffeta, puts an edge on her frosting spatula and delivers plenty of buttercream smooth prose laced with edgy wit.
Summers emerges as a Southern storyteller with anecdotes that brush hard up against risqué while blessing yo’re heart. It’s simultaneously sassy and inspired, informative and entertaining – it’s sweet AND vicious.
I just have one nit to pick about “Sweet and Vicious.” I can’t decide which recipe to sink my teeth into – and then which one to follow with.
Naughty little Retired Gingerbread Working Girls are tempting, but so too is the spicy Habanero Carrot Cake. I’m jonesing for Movie Night Cookies – soft chocolate and buttered popcorn-flavored cookies that get the flavor from Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly jelly beans. Baton-sized Majorette Biscotti await my attempts to one-and-two-and-three-and-four – dunk!
Don’t you for one minute believe that all 100 of the book’s recipes are for wickedly yummy, sinfully satisfying sweet thangs. Summers takes readers – and cooks – through savory breads, sandwiches, pot pie, cookies – and devotes an entire chapter to dog treats. Angry Bird Hand Pies – Buffalo chicken pasties – are at the top of my “must make” list. Buy the book to see why this cayenne-fired recipe is not about the cult game Angry Birds – but finds its inspiration from a Key West chicken dance.
There are shady rest stops along the way. Draw yourself a tall lemonade and take in Summers’ secrets for navigating the science and art of baking, cake decorating and pie dough making.
Lavish in photographer Chia Chong’s images, which delve far deeper in some cases than just pretty food pictures. Some of her photo illustrations demand bourbon-fueled pondering. At her very fabulous chewy center, Summers is a food stylist. She has mad kitchen skills for sure; her food styling is replete with detail, panache and intricacy. The book itself is artfully designed, right down to the style maven’s signature pink fore edge color and spot-varnished cover. Easy-to-follow recipes and equally pleasing typography round out this beautiful cookbook package.
I look at several award-winning cookbooks every year. If I have ever seen a volume worthy of the cookbook industry’s highest awards, it has to be “Sweet and Vicious,” and I’m not just saying that ‘cause Summers’ has sharp knives and knows where I live. This one is a keeper, and a gifter and never, ever a re-gifter.
Pre-heat your oven, break out the cake pans and watch for UPS from Amazon – get your copy now of Sweet and Vicious: Baking with Attitude.