Monday, 28 September 2009

Cookbook Review - Earth to Table

This month I had the pleasure of reviewing Earth to Table, Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm, by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann.
What first attracted me to this book was that the authors are local to me. Many of the books available that concentrate on local, seasonal foods are in climates that don't relate to me. Ontario has distinct seasons and the foods in this book are relevant to Canada (possibly excluding the far North) and the Northern United States. I figure it must be easy to eat locally and seasonally in California, doing it under a foot of snow takes some planning.
The authors have experience in some of the finest kitchens in the world and now work for the Ancaster Old Mill, where Jeff is the Executive Chef and Bettina is the Pastry Chef. They are both members of the Slow Food movement and pride their restaurant on its close connection to local and sustainable agriculture.
I love the fact that the book was written by both a chef and a pastry chef. This gives it a well rounded quality and also ensures a few wonderful bread recipes!
Earth to Table was originally a project to get all of the staff, including the authors, more interested and interactive with the food and where the food was coming from. They heartily volunteered to work at the farm that supplied the restaurant and literally got their hands dirty in their education.
The result is this gorgeous and colourful book, filled with striking photos, good humour, great recipes, and lots to think about.
I tried six recipes from Earth to Table, seasonable in the end of summer/beginning of fall time period, and all simple and delicious.

I had lots of nuts in my freezer, so I started with these Candied Nuts that are perfect to have on hand if anyone stops by for a drink or chat. They are addictive though!

This Wheat Berry Beer Bread was calling my name from the book. Flecked with whole, cooked wheat berries and made with dark ale, it is a hearty and thoroughly enjoyable loaf.

Our trip to the orchard last weekend proved to be extra bountiful as they had some fresh end of season corn which was perfect for the Corn on the Cob with Chili Lime Butter. Zingy and spicy and so flavourful, I'll never go back to plain butter on my corn!

People who know me know that I have a thing for beets. I don't know when it started, fairly recently I think. So of course I had to make the Heirloom Beet Salad with Feta and Pumpkin Seeds. Such a great combination of flavours.

I served the beet salad with this Peperonata, which I piled on the wheat berry beer bread, toasted, and smeared with a little cream cheese. Hubby just loved it. We are having the rest on poached eggs and toast tomorrow morning.

And of course I had to try a dessert! These Plum Tarts have a Frangipane filling and are wonderful warm, cold, or room temperature.

All the recipes that I tried were successful and delicious. They are simple and straightforward, designed to let the ingredients shine.

Earth to Table was fun to read and fun to cook from. The authors are very personable and make the reader feel excited to learn more about what is sustainable and local to them, and what is worth the extra miles. It is a wonderful book.