Hearth and Home
A New England Cookbook Review
Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share
By Kathy Gunst
Born from the longest, dreariest, and snowiest New England winters in recent memory is the Soup Swap. While Kathy Gunst’s most recent book is filled with soup recipes ranging from novice Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons to experienced Chicken, Charred Tomato and Chili Posole, it is also a community building movement incarnate. The original soup swap suppers began with six couples who shared a love for cooking. Each month, the dinner is held at the home of a different couple while each attending couple brings a homemade soup. The host will provide crusty bread, fresh salad, and dessert. Of course, this is just a guideline. The basics are laid out, but the reader is encouraged to make the swap their own.
“The first step in organizing a soup swap is getting over the misconception that making soup is difficult,” writes Gunst. “Honestly, there are few foods simpler to prepare.” From the beginning, the soups are emphasized as largely independent. For the most part, “soup does it’s own thing,” writes Gunst. New to soups? Start with something familiar like French Onion Soup with Double-Cheese Croutes or Minestrone Soup. As you become more confident, branch out to Short Rib Ramen with Soy Eggs.
Most recipes serve 6-8 full size servings or 12-14 sample size servings and come with tips on the best way to transport your soup, whether on crowded, urban public transportation or on bumpy, rural roads. Soup swap suppers are best for sharing a love of warm, comforting recipes, high quality ingredients, and high quality company.
Erin Bakes Cakes
By Erin Gardner
Published September, 2017
To Erin Bakes Cakes we say yes, yes she does. And she does it well.
Professional pastry chef and owner of Wild Orchid Baking Company, a wedding cake shop in North Hampton, Erin Gardner has created a cake-baking book with efficiency in mind and creamy fillings on the brain. What does that mean?
She understands that some people want to spend hours preparing their cake with love and light, while others want to share that love and light by sparing people what it would be like to eat a cake that wasn’t made out of the box they bought it in. This book is for both of those people, offering innovative, made-from-scratch recipes and also simplified ways of getting to the end game if you don’t feel like (or have the time to) whisk, pour, cook, and strain your pastry cream.
With an entire section dedicated to design, Erin offers the artistic at heart intricate instructions and whirly twirly ways to use frosting, candy, and other crunchy ingredients and provides encouraging substitutes for those of us with “meatball hands,” like in the Floral Crown Cake, where round store-bought wafer cookies can be used if we’re not feeling ready to bust out the ever-so-delicate tuiles.
Whether or not your cakes come out looking just like Erin’s, what’s important is the reason behind the cake, which Erin points out is celebration in our society. In other words, as Erin puts it, “At birthday parties, we don’t take pictures of kids in front of a salad.
[Secret] Sauces: Fresh + Modern Recipes With Hundreds of Ideas for Elevating Everyday Dishes
By Vanessa Seder
Published October, 2017
Vanessa Seder has graciously spilled her cooking secrets into her new cookbook, [Secret] Sauces: Fresh + Modern Recipes With Hundreds of Ideas for Elevating Everyday Dishes. Although Seder adores French sauces, she’s taken the “heavy classic roux- and fond-base” out of her own and instead provided light, modern, fresh options using ingredients such as miso, pistachio, avocado, and grapefruit. She’s also bestowed her readers with the gift of “mother sauces,” or as I’ve interpreted them, a blank (and yet oh-so-flavorful) slate. Mother sauces offer a base from which cooks can take in countless directions to complement the meal at hand.
As a busy working mom herself, Seder has tried to make her sauces accessible to others with a similarly demanding schedule, as well as quick to make by providing substitutes for ingredients that may be difficult to find. And, although sauce is great on its own dripping from the end of a warm wooden spoon, we rarely eat the whole pot this way (unless maybe it’s melted chocolate). To bring her sauces full circle, Seder provides a suggested meal to pair with each of her recipes, like the Oyster Po-boys topped with Dill and Preserved Lemon Remoulade or the Plum, Tangerine, and Five-Spice Jiang spooned over Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Scallions.
Homegrown: Cooking from the Ocean, Orchard, Forest, and Farm
By Matt Jennings
Published October 2017
Split up into the five terrains that make up New England’s robust local food offerings, Matt Jennings’ cookbook Homegrown places the laborious dairies, sustainable oceans, resilient farms, indigenous forests, and diverse gardens and orchards of the region side by side to form a collection of meals that flavorfully “celebrate the landscape.” Jennings uses recipes such as the Classic Lobster Roll to stay true to his Northeast roots, while meals such as Summer Tagliatelle with Sweet Corn, Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Uni, and Bacon hint at his years spent in Italy.
Jennings’ recipes give the average home cook an opportunity to shine while also trying new things without becoming overwhelmed, with dishes such as Grilled Zucchini with Mint, Seaweed Butter, and Grilled Hanger Steak with Charred Orange and Fennel Relish. All three courses (or four, if you consider dessert its own course like I do) are lovingly attended to, with breakfast recipes such as Sweet Pea and Ricotta Pancakes (made from Cow’s Milk Ricotta, if you choose to incorporate the recipe prior) and decadent dinner dishes like Butter-Roasted Chicken with Asian Pears, Seasoned Kale and Escarole Bunches.
The book’s photography captures the movement of its food, like the snowy, aged cheddar cheese falling from its grater onto sweet potato gnocchi on page 309, or the languid drip of caramel onto apple fritters on page 249.
Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm: Recipes from Land and Sea
By Annemarie Ahearn
Published May, 2017
For Annemarie Ahearn, eating locally and with the seasons is not a trend, but a way of life. Full moon suppers at Salt Water Farm were born from a desire to leave city life behind in exchange for an apron, a barn, and a skillset lost to generations of grandmothers past. A Full Moon Supper is a dinner party with a menu that reflects the season and an acknowledgement of the dedication to food production, from the purveyor to the cook.
The menus in Full Moon Suppers are organized by the twelve full moons, scaled down to feed a table of eight, and come with cook’s notes, seasonal appreciation, and inspiration for hosting large groups with grace. From January’s Full Wolf Moon menu comes a decadent Potato Gnocchi with Lobster, Cream, and Tarragon to warm even the coldest New England winter day. A full Flower Moon in May brings greener dishes, such as Grilled Asparagus with Farm Eggs and Grated Hard, Salty Cheese. The Strawberry, Hay, and Corn Moons of summer are menus built of New England favorites: Fried Squash Blossoms with Garlic and Parsley, Seared Cod with Creamed Corn, Swiss Chard and Cherry Tomatoes, and Peach Cake with Marscapone. The full Hunter’s moon is home to Apple Pie in October and Cast Iron Rib Eyes with Rosemary Butter and Celery Root and Parsnip Gratin round out the year in December’s Full Cold Moon.
Cooking for the weather, letting the seasons dictate the menu, and being aware of sustainability and portion control are a few tips from Ahearn that will keep your supper manageable and enjoyable.
By Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm
Published in 2012
As was the intention of Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm’s cookbook creators, Remick-Made Cookbook truly “reflects country cooking.” If the Yankee Bread Pudding, Apple Chutney, and Crockpot Cherry Pork Chops don’t accomplish this, then surely the Sausage Gravy, Country Chicken Pot Pie, and Cranberry Applesauce Bread do.
As are its recipes, Remick-Made Cookbook is humble in presentation, containing no photography; but its contents don’t lack in spontaneity. It’s old fashioned recipes like Carrot Jam that make you look, and lick, twice. Many of the recipes rely on a cook’s instinct, providing ingredients from the heart rather than the measuring cup, such as the Chicken Fricassee, which suggests five to six egg yolks, slightly beaten, and four to five cups of chicken stock, or as needed. But these inexact amounts don’t seem to pose a problem, especially in The Ultimate Burger, which leaves the number of bacon slices up to the cook.
Recipes range from sweets, to meats, to soups and stews, with an index in the back categorized, conveniently (and alphabetically), by ingredient.
Green Plate Special:
Sustainable and Delicious Recipes
By Christine Burns Rudalevige
Published May 2017
Sustainable cooking, eating, and living on a daily basis takes work. For many, standing in the kitchen after work trying to pull together a meal between soccer and dance, walking the dog, then laundry, showers, and lunches is neither easy nor enjoyable. Busy people, especially edible readers, want to work green eating into their day to day, but find themselves wondering: “Can I afford this lifestyle?” “When will I get to the farmers’ market?” “Will my kids eat this?”
In Christine Burns Rudalevige’s first cookbook, Green Plate Special, she tackles these questions head on. She reports that she knows “your limitations. Intimately, actually, because [she] has the same ones.” She understands that “we have fixed amounts of time, money, and energy to devote across all aspects of our hyper-busy lives, and therefore, don’t have the bandwidth to go whole hog on a sustainable eating lifestyle.” But that doesn’t mean a few new tricks can’t be added into the home cook’s arsenal to green up a piece of each meal.
Edible readers will find familiar recipes like Scented Sweet Potato, Lamb, and Apple Shepard’s Pie, Marinated Pork Cuban Subs, Custardy Sweet Corn Spoon Bread, and Kale Rabe and Potato Tart, as well as new recipes, such as Grilled Lemon Thyme Buttermilk Biscuits With Strawberry and Cream. Essays sprinkled throughout include food for thought on ratios, waste-not recipes, local sugar substitutes, greener cheese, and how “One Healthy Local Chicken does the Trick.” Take advantage of built-in plan-overs for thoughtful repurposing and remember that this book is a guide to green eating, so make substitutions and adjustments. Don’t be afraid to play with your food!
Throughout this book, you’ll find ways to make small changes that make a bigger impact than you’d think as well as suggestions on maximizing your time and ingredients in manageable ways.
By Evan Mallet
Published October, 2017
If the recipes contained in his new cookbook Black Trumpet (named after his renowned restaurant in Portsmouth) are too complex for the average home cook, Evan Mallet’s “rantings,” as he refers to them, are still worth their weight in time spent trying to find the lone quail egg that marks the Saffron Pickled Quail Egg with Serrano Ham and Aiolo in a Phyllo Nest. Well written, historical, and incredibly educational, Mallet isn’t lying about the amount of words he’s tried to “fit in edgewise wherever possible.”
But praiseworthy tangents aside, Black Trumpet readers must have a dedication to shopping in-season in order to utilize the book’s recipes to their fullest potential. Arranged by half seasons (early winter, late spring, etc.), recipes such as Seafood Paella accommodate summer’s changing bounty by incorporating English peas at their early-summer pique and swapping those out for fresh fava beans, green chick peas, or fresh shelling beans later in the season. Most of Mallet’s recipes are intended for the latter-day meals (such as lunch, dinner, and dessert) along with their necessities (sauces, dressings, elixirs). To make sourcing his sometimes hard-to-find ingredient requirements easier, Mallet includes a list of where to find certain ingredients and equipment, as well as useful resources, at the end of the book. He also includes menu suggestions to wrap up each chapter. Black Trumpet’s photography boasts a healthy balance of food dishes, chefs and artisans at work, and food being manipulated by the best of culinary techniques.