From James Beard Award winner Hugh Acheson comes a seasonal cookbook of 200 recipes designed to make the most of your farmers' market bounty, your CSA box, or your grocery produce aisle.
In The Broad Fork, Hugh narrates the four seasons of produce, inspired by the most-asked question at the market: "What the hell do I do with kohlrabi?" And so here are 50 ingredients—from kohlrabi to carrots, beets to Brussels sprouts—demystified or reintroduced to us through 200 recipes: three quick hits to get us excited and one more elaborate dish. For apples in the fall there's apple butter; snapper ceviche with apple and lime; and pork tenderloin and roasted apple. In the summer, Hugh explores uses for berries, offering recipes for blackberry vinegar, pickled blueberries, and raspberry cobbler with drop biscuits. Beautifully written, this book brings fresh produce to the center of your plate. It's what both your doctor and your grocery bill have been telling you to do, and Hugh gives us the knowledge and the inspiration to wrap ourselves around produce in new ways.
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About the Author
Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of the restuarants Five & Ten, The National, The Florence, and Empire State South, named restaurant of the year by Atlanta Magazine. He is winner of two 2011 James Beard Awards for Best Chef Southeast and Best American Cookbook, has been featured in numerous food and wine publications, and appears on Bravo's Top Chef as a judge. Hugh is the author of A New Turn in the South and Pick a Pickle. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his wife and two children.
Read an Excerpt
“What the hell do I do with kohlrabi?" my neighbor asked me.
I had some answers deep down in my culinary repertoire, but his forwardness came at me like a cannonball. The odd-looking vegetable had hit the height of its season, it was all over the farmers’ markets and taking over our CSA boxes, and my fellow communitysupporter-of-agriculture resorted to the last possible hope: ask that chef guy who lives down the street. I blurted out, “Slaw?”
But he wanted more from me. I mulled over this . . . maybe he was looking for something more highbrow. “Roasted kohlrabi with lobster, scallion, garlic, fennel, and curry butter?” He nodded. “A shaved kohlrabi salad with arugula, pecans, lime, paprika, and marjoram?” I was rolling now.
“Pickles?” he asked.
“Yes, pickles are great, too. Just make sure the pickling liquid isn’t too acidic and shave them thin. Put it on a hot dog.” (This is a great culinary response because darn near everything tastes good on a hot dog.) He went on his way, satisfied, surely to pickle up some kohlrabi and to find a lobster. I meandered home, thinking through my endless fascination with the links between food and community.
I am keen on becoming a better member of my food community. So I walk. My walk takes me out my front door, usually accompanied by my daughters, and we meander down the street. We turn left at the house owned by the dear old woman who always says hello, walk down the street with no sidewalk, two blocks to the end, and hobble up the dangerously steep stairs to our friend Alex’s house. On the porch are about a hundred boxes of vegetables, arranged for pickup by many of our neighbors. The boxes come from a farm, Woodland Gardens, five miles away, nestled behind the tiny airport in our town, Athens, Georgia. Woodland is an awe-inspiring organic farm that grows a beautiful array of vegetables for many of the high-end joints in the big city to the west, Atlanta. But to me, Woodland is about my friends Celia and John, farmers who work very hard to grow goodness every day. This realization—that someone took the time and effort to put a seed in the ground, toiled in the fields nurturing a young plant, harvested the offering, washed it tenderly, packed it into a simple box, and brought it to my neighborhood—is a moment everyone in our world needs to have. It’s a connecting of the dots after many years of disconnection.
By cooking and enjoying as many vegetables as Celia and John and other farmers nearby grow, I’m taking a step in the direction of supporting people I admire, of eating more healthfully, and of eating deliciously. But, as my neighbor made me realize, many people might not know what to do with the bounty of produce as it comes into season. So this book is part of my small-steps plan to becoming a better food citizen.
The recipes here are all about vegetables— what to do with them, ideas to get you excited to cook and eat them. It’s not a manual to a vegetarian lifestyle, but rather a compendium of seasonal recipes to help you bring vegetables to the center of your plate—from quick things you can do right away with what you just picked up to longer, more involved dinners.
I am not perfect. If you come into my kitchen you will find many things that you might not expect: Jif peanut butter, mass-production bread, sliced American cheese, pancake mix, forgotten cheap condiments, juice boxes, and store-bought mayo. My last name is definitely not Kingsolver. I can make an excuse for each one: The peanut butter is for the basic PB&J sandwiches that my kids love. The bread is part of that relationship. The American cheese is an abhorrence when eaten on its own, coaxed with difficulty from its plastic sheathing, but to us it is the only cheese for a true American cheeseburger. The pancake mix is all about the lazy Sunday, a sequence of hours when my family mimics the movements of slothlike creatures (this is often accompanied by Dunkin’ Donuts). Juice boxes, the bane of landfills, provide a sadly quick and easy resource to make sure my kids don’t become dehydrated scurvy sufferers, a worry that sometimes does keep me up at night. Store-bought mayo is the angel and devil on my shoulder: it reminds me of the self-sufficiency I had in sandwich-making as a child, and it pokes me in the eye with the reminder that we are way too busy in our lives to even make homemade mayo, something I am remarkably good at. Again, I am not perfect. But to me, it’s all about taking small steps.
Mostly I shop at our local farmers’ market. We eat a lot of vegetables. We’re members of a CSA. Being a member of a CSA, or community supported agriculture, is like buying a subscription to vegetables, paying it forward for a bounty to come later from a local and sustainable farm, a farm where you know the names of the people who till and seed and harvest, a place that seeks to ensure that the land is in as good or better shape when they leave it as when they first dug in. It’s a support system for those farms you respect and admire, a destination for their hard work and beautiful results. It is a way to eat with the seasons and a gateway to enjoying the bounty of your community.
In the CSA box we pick up on our walk are tender arugula, early lettuces still dewy from a morning picking, crisp tatsoi, baby ginger that Celia is experimenting with, a mix of late-season string beans, bunches of icicle radishes, tiny young mustard greens, perfectly round small turnips, and a lone butternut squash that signals the oncoming cold that our farmers will experience as winter swoops in. In my mind I am going through the dishes I will make. I will roast the turnips, sauté the greens, and pickle the stems. I will cook the tatsoi at high heat and finish it with some very finely chopped ginger and toss it with roasted chicken to be served over sushi rice. I will make a salad with finely cut beans to pair with a simple tuna sandwich. I will roast the butternut squash, scoop out the amazingly flavorful flesh, and make tender little gnocchi to serve with crisp sage and brown butter. The radishes will be a snack and the arugula will garnish most meals in some way. It’s a good plan.
We make a lot of plans at my house and we are pretty good at pushing through most of the agenda, but the juggling of school, work, afternoon activities, sports, dance, violin, more work, trips to the vet, taking the car in for a tune-up, or just falling prey to laziness makes cooking great food at home a struggle against time. We must make time. The most memorable markers in my life with my family have centered around food at home. I can still pinpoint the smell of homemade waffles wafting through our cottage when I was very young, the bubbling of strawberry jam as it gets to the perfect consistency on the stove in June, the pop of the pickle jar telling you that successful canning has occurred, the gentle clamor of a six-year-old Beatrice making scrambled eggs and toast to treat Mary and me to breakfast in bed. Instilled in my mind are food markers like making pepper jelly from habanero peppers with my grandmother Freda, of making cookies with my cousins, of roasting beef on Christmas Day in Toronto. Suffice it to say: you will never have beautiful family memories of heating a frozen entrée.
Feeding yourself and your family should not be as difficult as we are made to believe. Cooking has been made to seem like a sport of the Jedi, a pursuit that takes training and time and very specialized equipment. This is what the makers of ready-to-eat foods want you to believe, as they have an interest to protect. We have let large companies do our prep work, plan our meals, and map our life with food. I want to show you that it’s easy to engage in your community of food, to make the relationships with what you eat and how it got to your plate. It’s a beautiful experience that nurtures not only your belly, but also your larger community along the way.
Ease into the idea of good food. Stop by your weekend farmers’ market and meet someone who farms for a living. Open an old cookbook that your grandmother used on a regular basis and reconnect with the cadence of the kitchen before Lean Cuisine took over an aisle at the grocery store. Take care to make some things from scratch and you’ll see that you fully understand the complexity of cooking. I have found that cooking food with my kids has made them better eaters, just by seeing food in its most basic and natural forms and then turned into meals. They grew up eating okra, turnips, and Brussels sprouts, and I don’t think they’ll ever turn back. I have a firm belief that if we can get all our kids to eat, and enjoy eating, their vegetables, then we’ll have a better future for all.
HOW THIS BOOK WORKS
This is a vegetable-centric guide to seasonal offerings. Not all vegetables are touched on, but many are. Seasons vary for vegetables in North America, but I wrote it from Athens, Georgia, and focused on what’s in season from that vantage point. So put on a B-52s album and get in the Athens mind-set—you won’t regret it. Typically, four recipes—three quick or straightforward ones and one more in-depth—accompany each vegetable. It is a book that I hope will live in your kitchen rather than on your coffee table, because not one of us cooks at our coffee table. This book should encourage you to find great local foods, to feel confident that you’ll know what to do with them, to discover and make new dishes, and to feed your family well.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
THE BROAD FORK By: Hugh Acheson The cover is fascinating with the leaves, fruit and Vegetables on the front of the cover. Yummy array of foods Coming to FL. at one of the restaurants I tried this purplish dish not knowing what it tasted like but it was delicious and so I got the eggplant made different ways at different restaurants, it became my favorite vegetable so when I saw them on one of the pages of this book I knew I had to try the recipes (even though my Hubby hates them) yummy there was several recipes but it said there were several different kinds of eggplant wow I had no idea there were different verities of eggplant so now I’ll have to check them out. Mussels are not even on my list so I skipped those recipes no one in my family likes those things. It sounds like a good recipe if you are into those kinds of foods. I never heard of Chanterelles but I love the fact he gives some idea on them and how to clean and store. There’s a few things I never grew up knowing on the line of foods to cook with so my parents were meat and potato and mushrooms (because we could go to my aunt Mae and hunt them in her woods) kind of people and my Aunt Dee was Italian so she mostly fixed Italian foods when I went to her home. It’s nice to have new kinds of cook books and people that try different cooking and writes cook books for us. You will find in the content of this beautiful cook book Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. It’s great the best time to buy your favorite fruits, vegetables, and other kinds of foods for your parties, Christmas, Thanksgiving feast or summer fun lands of the years. This is really a wonderful book for us ones that never cooked a lot do to working 2 jobs and never had time to learn. There are So many different kinds of recipes to experiment with and to enjoy at different times of the seasons. Come along on a fun filled trip to the garden, woods to find mushrooms (they are fun to hunt in the woods) good time to spend with kids and family members. You could find yourself at an apple orchard picking apples of different kinds in different seasons, maybe blueberries at a blueberry farm or strawberries the scurry home to find a yummy recipe to fix the treasures you just went out to pick or bought or maybe one of your favorite recipes to use your basket of your fresh vegetables and fruits. Hope you enjoy taking an adventure through this beautiful book to find a new or favorite recipe and the pictures are wonderful they makes you hungry just to look at them . I recommend this cook book highly. I received this wonderful cook book free from bloggingforbooks for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review just an honest one. The opinions I have express are entirely my own and no one else’s. 5 stars ISBN 978-0-385-34502-6
This book proves you can never find enough ways to incorporate fresh veggies and fruit into your diet! I love it!