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Acorns & Cattails: A Modern Foraging Cookbook of Forest, Farm & Field Hardcover – September 20, 2016

5.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (September 20, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1510709681
  • ISBN-13: 978-1510709683
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let's get this out of the way: yes, that's my name on the cover as "Contributions by". Why is my name there? Because I love to write and Rob Connoley is the best Chef I have ever encountered in more than a decade as a foodie and restaurant critic. That includes Thomas Keller. That includes David Chang. I could go on.

What makes Rob and his cooking interesting, recommendable, and delicious? Integrity; his foundation is integrity. Integrity underlies every single thing he does. On that foundation is laid his curiosity, his talent as a cook, and his love of outdoor places. This means he will go out at 6am to snip some wild herbs for the evening's dinner service: just enough for the dishes, not nearly so much as to disrupt the growth of that patch of foliage. He wants there to be enough, always.

His integrity means that taking a short-cut is not only unappealing, but it is boring. Pop-tarts from scratch? Check. Your own cured ham that takes nothing more than time? Check. The best chocolate chip cookies you've ever tasted, made with sustainable mesquite flour? Check. Rob's sweet tooth is legendary and it leads to some outstanding recipes in this book, from cookies to tea cakes to chocolates. The Ginger Horehound cookies are my favorite.

Worried about difficulty? Don't be. These recipes are what you would find in any mainstream cooking magazine like Bon appetit. Some recipes are stupendously simple; others have several components that make for an impressive final dish, but could also stand alone or pared down as your time and pantry allow. For example, the Acorn Pasta dish is comprised of Acorn Pasta, Spicy Crawfish Sauce, and Preserved Kumquats. Leaving off the preserved kumquats saves some time.
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Format: Hardcover
As well as providing an array of unique dishes to challenge and reward chefs, Connoley's book invites us to consider how we source the components of a great meal, gives us opportunities to change the way we think about ingredients, and yet does so in a way that is open and honest rather than preachy or condescending. Come along for the ride all the way, or part of the way, and no one will think less of you for it. Recipes are concise and clearly worded, and the artistic quality of the photographs and stories within the book alone make it an absolutely worthwhile addition to any chef or foodie's shelf.

Connoley does a great job of applying a contemporary style to cookbook organization, grouping dishes by the type of environment from which ingredients are sourced, as well as well as an introductory first section which provides an introduction to the ethos and ethics of sourcing local food sustainably from forests and fields. This first section sets a solid foundation for the recipes found within the book, but also makes fascinating coffee table reading, including Andrea Feucht's narrative of Connoley's growth into one of the most innovative chefs in the Southwest. The tone throughout the book is practical and honest and excited about its topic, which matches Connoley's writing on his blogs and his presentation in social media. Photos by Jay Hemphill are up there with the best cookbooks in the business, and there is a nice mix of static but artistic "food on a plate" shots with more journalistic shots of people in action or food preparation in process.

One of the risks with a cookbook that applies unusual or unique ingredients or methods is that the average home cook may find the ingredients inaccessible or the techniques intimidating.
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Format: Hardcover
The best kind of cookbook - delicious-looking recipes and gorgeous photography. I can't decide whether to keep this one in my kitchen or on my coffee table! Connoley clearly knows his stuff, and has taught me to see the nature outside my house in a different way. This has been the perfect introduction to foraging. I'm keeping this in mind as the perfect gift for a nature lover or a wonderful holiday gift for a home chef who has everything. This is a thorough resource, and one I know I'll refer back to time and again. Beautiful!
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Format: Hardcover
Chef Rob Connoley’s amazing ‘Curious Kumquat’ in Silver City, NM was my all-time favorite restaurant (even though it was a 4-hour drive from my home). His main dishes and tasting plates were unique experiments combining traditional ingredients, natural items foraged from the nearby Gila Wilderness (cattails, acorns, hackberry, cactus, mesquite, etc.), and locally raised farm and 4H products. The resulting – often never before seen or tasted – dishes were beautiful to behold, unbelievably tasty and flavorful, and always caused me to re-evaluate how I thought about flavors and food. Over the years, I sent both fellow foodies and also skeptical meat-and-potatoes friends there and everyone always came back raving about it.

His new cookbook captures both the recipes and the spirit of his cooking. I was delighted to see many of my old favorites from the restaurant (acorn financiers and croquettes, cattail salad, 100-layer apples, peanut butter pie, and duck curry to name a few) as well as many others that I had missed like cauliflower black mole, Korean elk, pork-belly poppers, bacon jam pop-tarts, and prickly pear margarita pata de fruit. The book covers a wide range of edibles include main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and drinks. Although it focuses on incorporating local and wild ingredients, Connoley's cooking is not a sparse survivalist vision, but rather a living demonstration that wild ingredients have what it takes to produce fine dining experiences and world-class flavors.

For cooks interested in combining local wild ingredients in their own recipes, Connoley provides sections on how and where to collect and prepare common wild ingredients (particularly in the southwest) like acorns, cattails, prickly pear, hackberry, sumac, and yucca.
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