Cookbooks are some of my favorite reading materials. In an effort to discover recipes for seasonal eating, I have been browsing through quite a few cookbooks lately. I am especially keeping my eye out for “obscure vegetable” recipes, and creative recipes to avoid repetitive, mundane meals. (If you missed it, you can go back and read my book reviews in Part 1.)
Recently, I read through Outstanding in the Field: A Farm to Table Cookbook by Jim Denevan & Marah Stets. (To read more about their endeavors, you can visit their website.) The creativity of this book is inspiring.
The book includes an array of flavors, such as “Pumpkin & Persimmon Soup,” “Wilted Dandelion Salad with Pancetta and Poached Egg,” “Fried Squash Blossoms with Lavender Ricotta,” and “Chamomile-Poached Pears with Kumquats.” Sounds exotic, right? But, within reason, the ingredients are actually pretty easy to obtain (in season), and their extensive (almost too much!) directions guide you through the steps.
There are also some more basic recipes like “Celery Gratin,” “Rainbow Chard Tart,” and “Baked Eggs with Spinach & Cream” (a breakfast favorite!). The “Tomato Water” recipe sounds especially refreshing.
There are some unique recipes for preserves, such as “Pickled Wild Mushrooms,” “Green Tomato Marmalade” (great for the “leftovers” at the end of the season!), “Sweet & Sour Cherries,” and “Dried Tomato Chutney.”
I was especially thrilled to see a recipe using Nettles! Nettle tea has been much appreciated in our family, and it was fun to see a recipe for it other than tea. “Nettle Tagliatelle” definitely fits in the local/seasonal category! Calvin was able to easily follow the recipe for homemade egg noodles.
A variety of “staple” recipes are included, such as an assortment of stock/broth recipes, how to make your own sausage, and a lemon mayonnaise. The “Potatoes Cooked in the Coals” recipe would be perfect for camping. (We’ll be trying it out this weekend!)
Their assortment of seafood recipes seemed a bit far-fetched for me, though. Even though I live with close access to seafood, items like sturgeon, swordfish, and octopus really don’t appear on my menu. There are also recipes for salmon, tuna, prawns, and cod, which might be more feasible (and substitutions might be made in the other recipes). (This article gives a good overview of safe seafood.) I loved the unique ideas of using ingredients such as squash, chickpeas, and beets along with the seafood, though.
I was a bit disappointed with the prevalence of white flour in the book. However, I’m sure a more nourishing option could be used (or at least partially substituted for).
This collection of recipes is perfect for creating a splendid meal after foraging, visiting the Farmer’s Market, gleaning from the garden, or using up a CSA box. I certainly wouldn’t refer to this book as an extensive reference volume, but it was definitely a pleasant read. The gorgeous full-page photos of this book basically render it a “Coffee Table Book,” to peruse for creative inspiration in any season!
For more Kitchen Tip Tuesdays, visit Tammy’s Recipes.