By Karen Adler and Judith Fertig
I first heard about this book at Shelf Awareness. My husband is a gardener and a griller – though not usually in tandem. I’m the one haunting the farmer’s markets and trying to bring more vegetables and less meat to our family dinners. This book seemed like a great way for our talents and interests to come together, and so far, my guess was correct.
First perusal of the book revealed what I had hoped for: beautiful photos and simple but inspiring ways to cook fresh seasonal produce on the grill (and some meat and fish as well). What surprised me was the Pantry section: 45 pages of sauces, salts and butters to make the recipes extra special.
We had our Spring FCA* last night and, inspired by the book, added a “Grill Course” to our menu: Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Spears and Chard Wrapped Goat Cheese on the Grill. And we ended our meal with Warm Honeyed Blackberries with Grilled Pound Cake. The grilled bits were my favorites of our entire meal.
There are lots of vegetarian recipes here, and we made half the Chard bundles vegetarian by eliminating the prosciutto layer. (I thought the chard cooked better without this layer personally.) We also added some pitted cherries to some and Plum preserves to others – both yummy experiments!
It took me a bit to understand the organization of the recipes. The initial Contents page lays out the Chapter headings by course. Then each chapter has its own contents page, which has bolded headings. At first I thought these were section dividers, but I realized that the bolded titles are actually specialty pages that have tips for gardening as well as grilling: Growing Edamame, Edible Flowers, Butter Up!, etc. Other than that, my only complaint was that the Grilled Pound Cake recipe did not include a recipe for the pound cake. But then when I went looking for one and found similar recipes on epicurious, they ALL had you going to the store to buy the pound cake! So, I put one together myself and it came out very well, thank you very much ;)
Looking forward to trying lots more of the recipes in this book, including: Planked Butternut Squash, Sage and Brie, Char-Grilled Baby Summer Squash Pizza, Charred Green Beans with Lemon Verbena Pesto, and Grilled Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Garlic Anchovy Dipping Sauce, to name a few.
Thanks to Beth Fish Reads and her Weekend Cooking meme, which inspired me to write my first cookbook review! Check out the recipe for Warm Honeyed Blackberries with Grilled Pound Cake to follow.
*FCA stands for Family Cooking Academy. We gather quarterly with another family that is also interested in eating real food seasonally. We collaborate in the week before on a menu plan, usually looking for some new cooking challenge.
We start the FCA day by going to the farmer’s market with our kids and shopping, then the hostess usually finalizes the menu and cooking plan.
Then we all cook the meal together, involving the kids as much as they’d like, and sometimes bring in guest families to join us. I am proud to say that we are starting our 4th year of this tradition and we haven’t missed a quarter yet, despite busy schedules. We have had some cooking failures, but mostly cooking bliss, and we loved sitting around the table last night remembering yummy things we’d made together.