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Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets Paperback – May 13, 2008
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In her previous cookbooks Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and the classic Greens Cookbook, among others, Deborah Madison scored with savory yet sophisticated fare--the kind of food even meat lovers relish. Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets finds Madison shopping those havens of quality, taste, and diversity, and devising recipes based on their seasonally available bounty. Among the 350 recipes--not all vegetarian--fans will immediately recognize the Madison hand in dishes like Soft Tacos with Roasted Green Chiles, Spinach and Green Garlic Soufflé, and Winter Squash "Pancake" with Mozzarella and Sage. There's more to the book, however: "Many people still think that the farmers' market is the place you go to for cheap food," says Madison. More to the point, they're a source for "truly local and therefore truly seasonal [food], quite likely raised by sound sustainable methods and by someone who might become your friend." It's a message most readers will embrace.
The book offers chapters deftly arranged by fruit and vegetable families as they appear in the markets, such as "The Vegetable Fruits of Summer: Eggplants, Tomatoes, and Peppers" and "A Cool Weather Miscellany," which includes recipes such as Sautéed Artichokes with Potatoes and Garlic Chives and a marvelous "essence-of" soup, Elixir of Fresh Peas. Madison also treats unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, presenting the likes of lamb quarters in a soup made with Sonoma Teleme cheese, and sugar loaf chicory simply grilled and dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Recipes for delightful salads like Melon Salad with Thai Basil also appear, as do a selection of pastas and risotto, such as Winter Squash Risotto with Seared Radicchio, and sweets like White Peaches in Lemon Verbena Syrup and Date, Dried Cherry, and Chocolate Nut Torte. With sidebars like Atlanta's All-Organic Market: Late October and color photos throughout of vendors, produce, and many of the dishes, the book offers the perfect match of Madison and the markets. --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Madison (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) celebrates the seasonality of produce from farmers' markets across the country in this sophisticated cookbook. Sharing a few meat recipes, Madison has organized this collection by category (Corn and Beans, Stone Fruits, etc.) and included recipes mostly using vegetables and fruits. Not just another how-to for arranging tomatoes on a plate, the book presents such year-round recipes as Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Sage, or Corn and Squash Simmered in Coconut Milk with Thai Basil, alongside tributes to highlighted markets. Vegetarians will welcome main courses such as Braised Root Vegetables with Black Lentils and Red Wine Sauce or Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding. Recipes do demand close reading: one calls for a can of coconut milk but uses only part. However, shoppers learn how to use sunchokes (Sunchoke Bisque with Hazelnut Oil), Concord grapes (Concord Grape Tart) and even hickory nuts (Hickory Nut Torte with Espresso Cream). Madison's custom preparations suit farmer's market boutique style: she cuts each type [of squash] in the way that best preserves its form: lengthwise for the zucchini, crosswise for pattypans and round squash. Chefs will love the Herbs and Alliums chapter introducing Marjoram Pesto with Capers and Olives and Herb Dumplings for Soups and Ragouts. Also strong are composed salads, such as Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Pomegranates and Pistachios, the eggs and cheese chapter and extensive fruits and desserts, such as Blood Orange Jelly and Greg's Huckleberry Pie. This is a book cooks will reach for to enliven repertoires.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Unlike some other cookbooks, Crescent Dragonwagon for one, there are no faulty techniques, if you follow her instructions you get flawless results. And after a couple of tries, you can substitute and experiment. Her recipes do tend to be classic french with plenty of butter and other dairy, so as folks who watch their cholesterol, I have substituted olive oil for the butter and tofu for the eggs in some recipes with no ill effects. I would suggest that if you are a serious cook you would have an extensive herb garden of your own anyway, so that finding ingredients like marjoram, sage, lemon thyme and sorrel do not mean a trip to a specialty grocer.
Unlike the Chez Panisse cookbook, this one is suitable for vegetarians to use too, since while it does include recipes for market meats and fish, most veg recipes do not include meat stocks, bacon etc type of flavor enhancers like you find in the Chez Panisse cookbook. As a vegetarian myself, I always hesitate to adapt those wondering whether the results will be bland and missing the oomph when you are rushing to get a meal on the table.
Unfortunately, the recipes, as wonderful as they are, are often incomplete. I've had this book for a month now and have cooked out of it maybe 15-20 times since I got it. I'd say over 3/4 of the recipes have some step missing.
For example, when making a tart, she describes how to cook the vegetables, and then how to make the egg mixture, but doesn't describe how to combine them before popping it in the oven. I'm sure most chefs know how to do this, but I wasn't sure, so I had to go online to figure out how a tart is prepared. Answer: put the vegetables on the bottom of the tart shell and pour the egg mixture over it.
There are many omissions of the sort I describe above, and I usually have been able to go online to figure out how a "typical" tart is made, or bread pudding, etc. I'm not sure if these omissions are due to the fact that this is common knowledge among other, better chefs, or whether the book was written hastily without much testing. In either case, it's actually been a bit of a headache for me.
That said, I again must emphasize how amazing the food in here is. Last night I made an asparagus and mushroom bread pudding which was unlike anything I've ever made before. She has creative ways to cook wonderful veggies like fennel, chard and endive, which I would never had thought of using epicurious or allrecipes websites.
I think based on other reviews, I am going to check out her "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," which seems like it might be for more novice chefs, and may also have been more thoroughly tested.