21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A real treasure,
This review is from: The Herbfarm Cookbook (Hardcover)
The recipes in Jerry Traunfeld's The Herbfarm Cookbook will make your taste buds perk up and sing. And they'll have your friends begging for dinner invitations.
After reading an essay by the author on growing herbs, I bought this book to learn about herb gardening. Three months later, I find it my favorite--and most-used-- new cookbook since I discovered Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking thirty-odd years ago. The Herbfarm Cookbook is not merely an extraordinary source of scrumptious recipes; it has transformed the way I cook--even the way I think about food.
Traubman uses herbs to intensify the flavors of foods--in glorious combinations. He infuses the cream for a panna cotta with ginger and lavender or turns a simple white gazbacho into the essence of summer with the addition of mint, parsley and tarragon. Purees of fresh herbs form bases for relatively light yet rich-tasting sauces.
While he may call for a half cup of basil here or ¾ cups of tarragon there, none of his dishes are overpowered by a too-dominant flavor. In fact, the amazing thing about cooking with herbs in this manner is the way they underscore the tastes of star ingredients.
Vegetables as ordinary as parsnips and carrots become sublime. The simplest roast chicken or linguine in clam sauce gains intriguing overtones and new interest.
Halibut roasted in an herbal green robe. Couscous salad with cumin, cilantro and apricots. Appetizers of broiled figs sprinkled with thyme on gorgonzola-slathered croutes or mussels on little beds of broiled mint pesto. Every recipe I have tried has been amazing. And most of them have been surprisingly simple.
The author is the chef of one of America's most acclaimed restaurants. Yet his book is a joy for an amateur like me who doesn't keep truffles and foie gras on hand or have access to even one helper. Even the herbs are, for the most part, easy to find, and there are plenty of suggestions for substitutes.
Best of all, cooking from this book has given me a firsthand understanding of the excitement of modern American cuisine. Bringing out the very essence of a food...giving the taste buds a new thrill of recognition...taking the familiar and making it new and wonderful. For someone who loves to explore ways of making food delicious, The Herbfarm Cookbook is a revelation. And by the way, it's also a fabulous guide to herb gardening.