The blurb at the beginning of this book called my name. It talks about rich sauces, meaty ragus with an unfussy execution and the focus on making delicious flavorful food. I love cookbooks that focus on tasty food made with real ingredients and a focus on getting back to the fundamentals of home cooking with cooking from scratch and simple ingredients.
And Home Cooked is lovely. From the homey picture on the cover to the botanical prints on the endpapers to the beautifully photographed ingredients and finished dishes. It shows a lifestyle that I would love to emulate - clean without being sterile, homey without being cluttered and all the while relaxed content people who seem to be enjoying their meal.
At the beginning Anya Fernald talks about how she got her start in food, farming, and butchering which was absolutely fascinating and her devotion to what she does is admirable. The cookbook starts out with a chapter called "Building Blocks" which I enjoyed. There are recipes for sofritto, aioli, all different kinds of broth, and a number of different sauces including a Traditional Uruguayan Chimichurri that sounds heavenly.
After that it went a bit downhill for me - though really I should have realized that this wasn't the cookbook for me when I saw the recipe for "Trotter Broth". The chapters progress in the order of a meal starting with Snacks and drinks, followed by main courses and vegetable side dishes and ending in dessert. Unfortunately, the bulk of the recipes missed their mark with me. While I'm sure the recipes all end with a delicious result and start with a clear and easy to follow recipe I don't see myself sitting down to a meal of Roasted Peppers with Salted Fish as my starter, followed with Bird and Bunny Ragu, and ending with a Panforte which while it sounds amazing would require a trip to the specialty grocery store across town.
The majority of recipes were either not for me because they involved organ meat (like Agrodolce tongue, braised tripe, seared beef heart, or grilled sweetbreads) meat that I don't care for or is hard to find (chicken fried rabbit, rack of goat, or squab confit), or requires too many steps to be something I make on a regular basis (tons of fresh filled pastas and homemade sausage). While not for me it is a beautiful book and would be wonderful for cooks who are a little more adventurous than I am.
Today I thought I'd share two of the recipes from this book that I'll definitely be trying soon. I think they'd pair well with some really nice cheeses to make a lovely snack or something to sit out pre-dinner.
Pickled Grapes2 lbs organic seedless grapes, green, red, black, or a mixture, stemmed
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Pack the grapes into pint jars. Add a spring of tarragon and a garlic clove to each jar. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt, then pour the hot brine over the grapes.
Let cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate. Grapes are ready to eat in 1 day but will keep, refrigerated, for 1 month. Serve alongside confits, pate, or other rich meats.
Olive Oil Crackers
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing on crackers
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on crackers
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flours, water, olive oil, and salt. Mix on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes (this can also be done by hand). The dough should be very stiff and not all sticky; if necessary, add a bit more flour by the tablespoonful until it is no longer sticky.
Cover the bowl with plastic warp or a clean kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour (at this point the dough can also be tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days).
Preheat the oven to 350. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into four pieces. With a floured rolling pin, working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough as thinly as possible. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into 3 by 1 inch rectangles. Transfer to two parchment lined baking sheets (the crackers do not spread, so you do not need to leave much space between them) and brush each cracker on both sides with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the crackers are blistered and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Bake the remaining crackers. The crackers will keep for 1 week in a paper bag. Reheat in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes to recrisp if necessary.
This book was received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads