In hindsight, I think I wanted to peruse Home Cooked by Anya Fernald for mildly silly reasons. Don’t get me wrong, the Blogging for Books description sounded enticing enough:
Anya Fernald’s approach to cooking is anything but timid; rich sauces, meaty ragus, perfectly charred vegetables. And her execution is unfussy, with the singular goal of making delicious, exuberantly flavored, unpretentious food with the best ingredients. Inspired by the humble traditions of cucina povera, the frugal cooking of Italian peasants, Anya brings a forgotten pragmatism to home cooking; making use of seasonal bounty by canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, salt curing fish, simmering flavorful broths with leftover bones, and transforming tough cuts of meat into supple stews and sauces with long cooking. These building blocks become the basis for a kitchen repertoire that is inspired, thrifty, environmentally sound, and most importantly, bursting with flavor.
Still… I think I mostly got the book because I liked the cover.
Anyway! The rational comments first:
This book is fairly gorgeous. I loved the photo for the blood orange salad. It was vivid and delicious looking. There’s a series of photos for the toma cheese with green herbs that I think is inspiring. The pictures for salmon confit are lovely and bright, contrasting the red-orange meat of the fish against the grey-ish countertop and Fernald’s blue-white striped apron. For people who want lots of pictures in their cookbooks, this one fits the bill.
The recipes themselves are varied. The chapters of the books are: building blocks, snacks/starters/cocktails, pasta/ragu/risotto/eggs, vegetables, fish/meat, and desserts. There’s a recipe for liver pate, a savory pie with lots of greens in the filling, cracked crabs with lemon-chile vinaigrette, and twice cooked orange duck. Each recipe is fairly striped down to the essential ingredients. The list length of ingredients isn’t intimidating. If anything is intimidating, it might be some of the ingredients themselves. Rendered pork fat, trotter broth, and bone broth are examples of ingredients that most people don’t keep around. (Well, urban dwellers like me anyhow.) They might get turned off from a recipe for that reason. From Fernald’s perspective, these ingredients are nothing exotic. She’s the co-founder of Belcampo, a farm/butcher shop/restaurant. Belcampo even has a meat camp!
Objectively, I would give this book four out of five stars.
From a more personal perspective, I’m not sure how much use I’ll get out of this book. At the moment, I’m mesmerized by the cheese-making recipes and the anise seed breakfast cookies. I haven’t given up on this book yet, but realistically it might not live on my bookshelf for too long. I guess it’s more of a three star book for me personally.
Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post.
P.S. Random comment – the amazake turned out well. I just kept forgetting to take photos of it. So I’ll have to make a second batch just to show it off. (^_^)