Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’
by Deborah Madison
Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’
Markets is nearly two years old, but Spring (or
any season, really) is a good time to take another look
at it. While not completely meatless like her previous cookbooks
(award-winners including The
Greens Cookbook, Vegetarian
Cooking for Everyone, The
Savory Way; and This
Can’t Be Tofu!) it’s compulsory for
the vegetarian kitchen, and a must-have for everyone else.
True, you can respect fad-diet limitations with many of
her recipes, but forget about it. Do you really want to
deprive yourself of a Giant Popover with Chanterelles? Potato
and Onion Salad with Smoked Albacore? Would you be happy
knowing that you passed up Braised Root Vegetables with
Black Lentils and Red Wine Sauce? And you haven’t
even heard about the desserts.
is easy, but reading, writing or talking about it is fundamentally
challenged by the absence of taste buds. Stick with the
food writer that sets off hunger pangs, makes your mouth
water and drives you into the kitchen. In Madison’s
case, Local Flavors will also send you to the farmers’
Flavors is both farmers market primer and cookbook.
Read the passionate introduction, which includes important
market tips, especially if you’re a market neophyte.
From there, Madison travels across the country and across
the seasons with 350 recipes, local-market-inspired menus,
and plenty of authoritative information about seasonal produce.
Her market vignettes are engaging and far-flung, from Hawaii
and Santa Fe (Madison’s home) to the Arctic Circle
and Birmingham, Alabama.
what, exactly, makes Local Flavors so fabulous?
Maybe it’s that Chez
Panisse sensibility Madison infuses into every recipe.
Great, fresh produce needs little inspiration and she knows
that. So, while Sweet Potato Flan with Warm Molasses and
Sesame Tuiles may sound and taste indulgent, it is simple.
Sweet potatoes are the star, undistracted. Golden Pepper
and Yellow Tomato Soup reminds that Fall is arriving. It’s
bold and full-flavored, yet soft. Her rustic dishes are
irresistible—Priest Stranglers (Strozzapreti) with
Black Kale, Sage, and Potatoes is altogether garlicky and
hearty. Winter Squash Risotto with Seared Radicchio is a
rich meal by itself, but wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy
it with a side of Grilled Sugar Loaf Chicories, hot from
fifteen chapters of Local Flavors consider the
total harvest: greens, herbs, vine produce, root and tubers,
stone fruits, corn, crucifers like cabbages and kale, even
eggs and cheese. There’s a lot more. Corn and beans
get their own glorious chapter that includes a flawless
Corn Pudding, an easy and meat-free Summer Posole, and sparkling
Wax Beans with Lemon Thyme and Yellow Tomatoes—with
just a splash of champagne vinegar.
handful of meat, poultry and seafood dishes are consistent
with the book’s vegetarian paradise—they are
simple and superb. Chicken Thighs Braised with Dried Fruits,
Shallots, and Bay; Red Snapper Baked in Parchment with Pummelo
and Rosemary; and Lamb Shanks Braised with Onions and Rosemary
are the likes of what you’ll find. Shrimp gets the
Asian treatment: stir-fried with baby bok choy, snow peas
and peas greens, and served with scallion crepes. Or leave
out the shrimp and it’s still a vibrant dish.
to one of Madison’s menus included in Local Flavors.
She calls it A Simple Winter Supper in Southern California.
It’s Date and Orange Salad with Feta Cheese and Pistachios,
Pasta with Golden Fennel, and Feijoa Bavarian Cream. In
case you are wondering, feijoas are also known as pineapple
guavas. And, in case you have any more questions about this
particular dessert—just know that it was delicious.
by Kevin Schoeler
(Updated: 12/02/08 SB)