Review: The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson

BroadForkCoverIn my on-again-off-again relationship with Top Chef, one of my favorite things is any appearance by Hugh Acheson. He always comes across as respectful, yet brutally honest, and funny. That same personality comes through in the writing of The Broad Fork, starting with the opening statement: “What the hell do I do with Kohlrabi?”

I should add, I was asked a similar question about Kohlrabi last summer. It was asked via a picture and “Do you have any idea what this is or what to do with it?”

The structure of The Broad Fork is one I appreciate. Four sections – one for each season. Within each, there are multiple vegetables and fruits featured, with 3-5 recipes included for each. The recipes range from simple purees or jams to multi-faceted dinners with the veggie or fruit as a component of a larger dish. Of the 200-odd recipes included, I’m interested in making about 30. Not bad.

To date, I’ve made the following:

  • Slow Cooker Apple Butter: Tasty
  • Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Sorghum and Roasted Apples: I used Molasses in place of the sorghum, and this was good. It may have been better with the sorghum.
  • Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock and Slow Cooker Chicken Stock: Both were super easy and made a delicious stock
  • Lettuce with Pomegranate, Tangerine and Cider Vinaigrette: This was a really nice Fall salad, hampered only by the low quality pomegranate I happened to buy at the time
  • Persimmon “Pop Tarts”: These were pretty good, although my usual issues with homemade pie dough appeared, and it maybe wasn’t the best introduction to persimmons

All of the recipes were well-written and easy to follow.

My bottom line is that I like this author a ton, like this book a lot, and am happy to have it in my cookbook library. This isn’t the book I’ll pull down when planning weekly meals, but, I will refer to it both when the seasons begin to change and when I’m about to head out to the farmers’ market. Ideas and inspiration are the strong suits here, for sure.

And if you’re someone who has ever wondered what the hell to do with kohlrabi, well, check out this book. You might find yourself making a salad or a puree and loving that weird little vegetable.

For more info about this book, be sure to check out the official page at Penguin Random House.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Review: Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore

9781607747970A rough recap of my first 5 minutes with Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore:

  • “Oooh, that cover looks classy. Can I have some pasta?”
  • The main categories listed in the index (Breakfast, Snacks & Drinks, Soups & Salads, Meaty Mains, Meatless Mains, Vegetables, Desserts) are clear, concise, and yet, inviting.
  • “Look at all those famous food people names”
  • Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar: I want to try these
  • Chocolate Muscovado Banana Cake: Yum!
  • Touch of Grace Biscuits: Meh… (turns page) Oh, those look good with the jam.
  • English Porridge: I’d eat this oatmeal
  • Roasted Applesauce: I need to remember to open this book up in September
  • Olive Oil & Maple Granola: This looks like a perfect homemade granola recipe to play with

This goes on and on. Basically, every photo made me hungry. Better yet, every recipe made getting to that deliciousness seem really straightforward. Not always easy, but something I could do.

And that, I think, is the true “genius” of this compendium. 100 recipes – from applesauce to Brisket of Beef, from a Kale Panini to Ratatouille, from Pumpkin Pie to Purple Plum Torte – that are fit for family dinner or a foodie dinner party. Even better, these aren’t new takes on the classics, or unnecessarily enhanced recipes to fill a celebrity’s cookbook. Instead, they are tried and tested recipes from the Food52 community. That includes not only beloved recipes from well-known chefs, but also recipes from the homes of members of the Food52 user base, regular folk who happened to perfect a recipe and share it with the world.

Overall, I enjoy this cookbook’s strategy of collecting recipes from many sources and organizing them in one place. Limiting the quantity to around 100 was a smart idea as well – this doesn’t have the encyclopedic breadth of a “How to Cook Everything” – this is a book I will go to when looking for an idea.

Finally, I want to throw my response into the mix regarding the most common complaint I’ve seen about this book: “you can find almost all of these recipes online already – right there on the Food52.com!” Yes, this is true. However, while I can go to the Food52 website and search for Green Lentil Salad, and ultimately find Patricia Wells’ version as featured in the book, it is one of 50 recipes matching my search, and I have to know that I want to have a salad with lentils in it. On the other hand, if I was hungry for a meatless dinner, that would be relatively quick to prepare, but I needed some inspiration? Well, leafing through the pages of Genius Recipes would very potentially get me craving this salad. So, to that detraction, I would say, if you are only interested in a cookbook containing brand new recipes, pass this one by.

If you’re like me, you’ll be happy to have Food52 Genius Recipes in your collection, as a companion to the website, and as an inspirational resource.

For more info about this book, be sure to check out the official page at Penguin Random House.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.