Saturday, April 9, 2011

Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh by Emeril Lagasse

Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh features recipes focusing on fresh, organic and locally grown produce and ingredients. There's an introduction by the author, Emeril Lagasse, touting the benefits of buying fresh local ingredients while supporting farmers and their farmers' markets.

This book is filled with scrumptious recipes. While fruits and vegetables take up a lot of the book, there are other sections featuring dairy, poultry, fish and grains. Some of the recipes are very simple; other are more complex. The simple ones show that good fresh ingredients don't need a lot of preparation to make them taste good, while the complicated ones show the versatility of the products. It's all good.

As a test recipe, I made Roasted Brussels Sprouts (page 137). Basically, after the sprouts are crisp-tender and lightly caramelized and cooked you toss them with olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese. Can you say delicious? Anyway, we love brussel sprouts so I make them a lot. While I loved this version, I'm not so sure about my husband. He kept saying he liked them (he didn't want to hurt my feelings), but when I pressed him he said 'they were different' and preferred my own method of roasting them. That's his way of saying it's not a keeper recipe. I'll definitely be making them again when he's not around for supper. There are a few other recipes I want to make: Curry-scented roasted Cauliflower (page 140-141) and Creamy Spiced Rice Pudding (page 207) and a number of others.

With a book that features mostly fruits and vegetables, I bet it's a bit of a challenge on how to present them in an interesting fashion. Personally, I found the chapters, as well as their order, to be a little odd. For example, corn, beans and squash are lumped together in a chapter labelled "The Three Sisters". Nice, but why? I understand some of the other groupings (Nightshades, Cole Crops, Leafy Green), but not others. Dairy is presented at the beginning, while other non-vegetable chapters are at the end. A sentence or two in the introduction about the organization of the book along with an explanation at the beginning of each chapter explaining why these items were grouped would have been helpful.

It's a little hard to tell much about the photographs by looking at the uncorrected proof (which has them in B&W), but I can say that there are quite a few photos in the book, which is great. I love seeing photos of great looking food. Some of the recipes don't have any photos, which is ok for some of the simpler recipes, but not so good for some of the more complex ones. Some of the recipes are accompanied by a photo of an ingredient. Now I think green peppers are beautiful, however I'd rather have a photo of the finished dish (for example Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers) so I know what the dish should look like.

The table of contents of this book is great. It lists all of the recipes in each chapter. The index wasn't included in this uncorrected proof. If it's created with the same care and attention as the TOC was, I'm sure it's going to be very useful.

Honestly, I don't pay much attention to buying locally. If I have a choice, I will buy veggies grown here, but that's not always an option. We really enjoy eating a large variety of fruits and veggies; a lot of those come from faraway places because they can't be grown here. We probably wouldn't starve if we only ate stuff that was grown within 100 miles of us, but our diet certainly wouldn't be as varied as it is now. Anyway, this book may make me more conscious of locally grown/raised food.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

For more information about the author, his other books and everything Emeril, please visit Emeril Lagasse's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins Canada for this book.

Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh by Emeril Lagasse, HarperStudio (HarperCollins), ©2010. ISBN 9780061742958(uncorrected proof), 304p (plus index).

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  1. Good review of the book. I would buy locally however given that I have a great produce store that goes to the market each morning and is much more reasonably priced than from the local farmers I chose the better priced one.

  2. I heard about this book recently. The brussel sprout recipe sounds delicious. We love them at our house. I can see where a intro to each chapter would be helpful. I do buy lots of local food, especially meat and vegetables.

  3. We buy mostly local and organic, but--like you pointed out--sometimes that hard (especially in the winter).

    We love Brussels sprouts and love them roasted, so I'd likely try that recipe too.

    I'm often leery of TV/restaurant chef cookbooks because they are not always geared to the home cook, either in a practical sense (too much time, specialized equipment) or in terms of available ingredients (not available in my small town).

    I'll have to take a look at this one when it comes out.

  4. I try to mix it up: local & organic (from my CSA box) and non-local both. We only buy organic dairy nowadays, it doesn't cost much more, but it's better for the animals, the environment and ourselves.
    I haven't heard of this book before, but it sounds really wonderful! Maybe I'll get the bf to eat more brussels sprouts from now on? I adore brussels sprouts, but he doesn't ;)

  5. Wonderful review...I really appreciate your explanation of the structure of the book (I don't get The Three Sisters grouping either). I love brussel sprouts, but unfortunately I'm the only one in my family who does :(

    We have several farmer's markets around us and come spring I do try to patronize them, but as you point out, it is near impossible for us to eat locally exclusively.

  6. I believe the three sisters refers to the native American practice of planting those three plants together. I think it may have been the Navajo who called them the three sisters.

    I will always buy local over shipped in when they are available. And I don't tend to buy vegetables that are not in season i.e. no asparagus in December. A couple of years ago we decided to get our beef from a local producer who only feeds grass to his cattle. It is absolutely amazing how much better it tastes. It also has more omega-3 fatty acids. Plus it is better for the environment. I made that switch after reading Trevor Herriot's Grass, Sky, Song which talks a lot about how loss of habitat has reduced populations of native songbirds.

  7. Great review of the book! We love Brussels sprouts, too, and I think I'd love it with the Parm and the lemon zest! The Rice Pudding sounds very good! I'd love to take a peek at that book next time I'm at the bookstore, thanks!

  8. I am trying to buy more local produce, but it gets rather limited in the spring and winter. Organic can be a good choice, but here it is often twice the price. eeks.


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