Cookbook author serves up simple menu ideas

Favorite recipes can be easily updated by adding just one fresh, unexpected flavor, says the author of a new cookbook. And you don't have to scour the farmers market for ideas.

Kathy Gunst, a Maine writer, suggests adding simple but flavorful ingredients, such as grated ginger, maple syrup, coconut milk or lemon zest, to revamp old recipes. Gunst's new cookbook, "Stonewall Kitchen Favorites," is a collaboration with Jonathan King and Jim Stott, the owners of the Maine-based Stonewall Kitchen gourmet foods company.

"People tend to go to the same grocery store week after week, and they buy the same foods week after week. They wonder why they're not excited about the food they're cooking," Gunst said.

Rather than following a strict shopping list, Gunst recommends letting the fresh, seasonal produce and other foods found at the market dictate meals for the week.

Gunst will share some of her simple, seasonal appetizer recipes at the Wine South wine and food festival, which returns to the Gwinnett Center on Saturday. She'll offer plenty of suggestions for foods that pair well with wines, as well as cooking demonstrations using Ile de France's gourmet cheeses.

The Stonewall cookbook offers a number of simple, flavorful menu suggestions for different types of parties. The book's Dessert Party suggestions - a variety of sweet treats and cheeses - pair especially well with wines. Let guests sample from cheese plates, lemon-ginger cheesecake, brownies, berry salad and raspberry squares.

Gunst recommends choosing two to four different cheeses, with a balanced mix of hard and soft cheeses. Try offering a selection of all American-made cheeses, or a tasting of several types of goat cheese. While you're at Wine South, ask any of the expert vendors to recommend several wine choices to complement the cheeses and sweets.