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The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm Paperback – August 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Sure, the farmer's market can provide the freshest food available, but how can you tell? And once you've found the perfect heirloom tomatoes, what do you do with them? Cooking teacher and television host Saltsman provides plenty of answers to those questions in this compilation of recipes that shrugs off complex preparation to focus on using seasonal ingredients to their fullest. Saltsman offers tips on buying (how to pick the best corn and eggs, for instance) as well as which vendors to seek out at her local farmer's market in Santa Monica, should you decide to make the trip. Meat, fowl and fish make appearances, but the star of this book is the produce. Saltsman provides a wealth of variations for familiar favorites like tomatoes, mushrooms and squash, and uses more exotic fare to spike some standard dishes: sapote, for instance, is a citrusy, custard-like South American fruit that makes a great twist on crème brulee. Cooks will get a lot of mileage out of Saltsman's simple yet innovative uses for fresh fruit, like a memorable tart made of seared nectarines and peaches, burnt honey and fresh berries, or a savory-sweet salad made with mixed cherries, toasted almonds, greens and aged goat cheese. In her first book, Saltsman proves that minimal effort, coupled with high-quality food, can produce extraordinary results.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top 100 Cookbooks of the Last 25 Years: We looked through basketfuls of market-based cookbooks before picking The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook as best in field. Beginners and confident locavores alike will love every bite. --Tiffany Vickers Davis, Cooking Light Magazine
Amelia's book is really three volumes in one: gleanings from the culture of farming; a guide to produce, meats, and cheeses found at this extraordinary market; and a great cookbook.
-From the Foreword by Deborah Madison
Amelia's book is an amazing resource to have with you, a complete season-by-season handbook to guide you through the bounty of the market.
-Alice Waters owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant
...for anyone who has ever stood in the produce aisle of the supermarket, wishing for something more; for anyone who has wandered past the rows of beautiful produce at a farmers' market gazing longingly but unsure where to start.
-Suzanne Goin, chef-owner of Lucques and AOC restaurants
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Top customer reviews
From the beautiful color photos of the produce and their Growers comes the unfolding of their story. Then helpful topics like How to Shop - Useful Plant Terms - Handy Pantry Items and Helpful Kitchen Tools.
Newly enlightened and freshly stocked ready for the lovingly researched recipes which truly utilize a variety of vegetables and fruits that many of us would not have dared - but now with QUALITY and EASE we can be ready to serve our loved ones and with a new sense of confidence and community - all that and more from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook.
I'm thrilled with my purchase and can't wait to share its' bounty.
The emphasis is as you can guess, on the ingredients. For me (and the author) the local farmers market brings the best Southern California has to offer, which is saying a lot. She also offers suggestions for those that have to use store bought produce as well. The theme of the recipes is simplicity, letting the fresh, natural taste of the ingredients speak for themselves. For instance, the Bruschetta recipe is about as simple as you get, but the tomatoes really stand out and the flavor is amazing. This is a common occurrence with these recipes.
Not only have I made the recipes, but I have eaten them at a restaurant that hosted a book signing for the author and served her recipes. I have been able to consistently turn dishes that were as good as what I ate at the restaurant.
Not only are the recipes amazing, but the organization of the book is fantastic too. There are sections from starters to deserts and there is a section for vegetarians too. There is an index where recipes are broken down by season, as well as the crops. Other helpful sections list cooking items you might need, techniques, how to buy produce. She writes a good amount about the people that grow the various produce, which I found very interesting. So very well done.
This is a great cookbook for fresh dishes and it would also make a great cookbook to give as a gift.
I actually DID trail "Amelia around the Santa Monica market to learn what's in peak season, and to be introduced to the farmers that grew it" (see previous review) when I wrote about this wonderful book for the Orange County Register. But there were frequent interruptions, because Amelia Saltsman - writer, cooking teacher, producer/host of her own TV show - is the undisputed queen of the Santa Monica Farmers Market and instantly recognized by shoppers and farmers alike. This cookbook is as much an homage to the farmers, their histories, and their commitment to excellence as it is a collection of fuss-less, original and artful recipes inspired by the amazing varieties they produce. Fava Bean and Pea Shoot Salad. Fresh Porcini and Potato Soup. Slow Baked Quince with Honey and Cognac. Recipes that showcase ingredients over method, with Saltsman guiding us from the familiar to the exotic, as you can see by the following excerpt from the Register:
"People are overwhelmed by choice," she said, "but don't know how to proceed. The only way farmers are going to grow these varieties is if people know how to cook them."
A delivery man whizzed by carrying mounds of bush-like, herby-looking bouquets. "Fresh garbanzo beans," Amelia informed me. "You can find unusual things at the farmers' market that you would never find anywhere else. It's not that they're so rare - they're just rare here. In Mumbai you could find them all the time. And even the very ordinary things sing with great flavor, the simplest things - carrots, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes - it makes all the difference in the world."
Shopper Sue picks up a lavender and cream-colored, teardrop-shaped eggplant and asked Saltsman, "What do I do with this?"
"That's a Rosa Bianca - it's very creamy inside," Saltsman informed her. "Cut it in cubes and sauté it - it gets tender quickly - or roast it in thick slices. It just melts in your mouth."
At Windrose Farms I'm struck by what appear to be tiny white, faintly striped melons, which turn out to be lemon cucumbers. "They are so sweet," she rhapsodized. "You can only find them in farmers' markets. Cut them, and inside it looks exactly like the juice vesicles of a lemon."
But the main reason to shop at a farmers' market is the taste, she said. "Because the ingredients are so fresh, they will keep for a surprisingly long time, because they're picked at their peak. Their entire shelf life is spent in your home, not being shipped."