Friday, September 9, 2011

REVIEW: Organic Kitchen: making the most of fresh and seasonal products by Ysanne Spevack

From the back of the book:
  • Over 140 irresistible recipes that make the most of seasonal cooking, with soups and salads, tempting main courses and superb desserts.
  • Featuring a comprehensive survey of organic ingredients, from fabulous fruit and vegetables to tender meat and poultry, hearty breads and handy pantry items
  • A practical and straightforward guide to understanding the issues surrounding organically produced food and drink

About the Author

Ysanne Spevack is a leading light in the international organic movement. A writer and broadcaster, she has chaired organic food festivals and debates, and is the editor of an online organic website magazine.

My Thoughts

We live in a time of consciousness, and many more people are trying to eat organic produce and are challenging themselves to eat locally produced food. What I love about this book is that it groups recipes by season, assisting striving locavores in eating well while eating local.

The book begins with an introduction to organic food, expounding on things like "Agrochemical Farming" (prevalent farming using pesticides), uses for hemp, and the benefits of going organic.

It then moves into the "Organic Kitchen" and covers where to get organic produce, different storage and preparation methods, and farming methods used in our meat industry and with fish farming.

The book then shows you how to build your organic pantry with things like natural sweeteners as opposed to refined sugars.

The cookbook then has recipes broken up by seasons. Each recipe includes a beautiful photograph of the completed dish, as well as one or more photos of the preparation.

Spring leaves me yearning for Fillets of Sea Bream in Filo Dough, Seared Scallops with Chive Sauce on Leek and Carrot Rice, and Citrus and Caramel Custards. Summer has me dreaming of Zucchini Fritters with Pistou, Tabbouleh, and Watermelon Granita. Fall has me hankering for Roasted Garlic and Squash Soup, Red Onion and Mushroom Tartlets with Goat Cheese, and Sticky Pear Pudding. And winter has me wanting to wrap myself in the comfort of Winter Farmhouse Soup, Peppers Filled with Spiced Vegetables, and Spicy Pumpkin and Orange Bombe. (You may note that I don't list any meat or poultry dishes. That is because I am a pescatarian, but the cookbook does have plenty of both!)

The recipes are rounded out by those for "Sauces, Salsas, Chutneys, and Breads" with recipes for things like Onion Sauce, Peanut Sauce, Garlic Mayonnaise, and Cheese and Onion Cornbread.

The cookbook ends with a Glossary and Suppliers and Information Sources.

Here is a recipe for Onion Sauce, which reminds me of the vegetarian Mushroom Gravy that I made last Thanksgiving, which was delicious!

Onion Sauce
Serves 4

3 tbs olive oil
1 lb onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 tbs all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
1 2/3-2 cups vegetable stock
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 tsp dark soy sauce
sea salt and ground black pepper
  1. Put the oil in a small, heavy saucepan and heat gently. Add the onions and fry, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown.
  2. Increase the heat slightly and cook for another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a dark, golden brown.
  3. Stir in the flour, then cook for a few minutes, stirring all the time. Gradually stir in 1 2/3 cups of the hot stock. Simmer, stirring, for a few minutes, until thickened, adding a little more stock if the gravy is too thick.
  4. Add the thyme, season with salt and pepper, then cook very slowly, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the soy sauce and a little more seasoning, if necessary. Add a little more stock if the gravy is too thick, remove the thyme, and serve immediately.
I thought this was a lovely little cookbook, which I picked up on clearance at Barnes and Noble for just a few bucks.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

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