Is a calendar in every good cook’s head?
Even with our ability to air freight precious ingredients around the world, our appetites are still aroused by seasonality – apples in the autumn, ramps in the spring, early June strawberries and the like. Cookbooks can give us specific recipes, but they can also inspire by their form and organization. Fresh from the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel and Charlotte March (Wiley 2010) captures that inspiration in a book organized around the seasons. (Charlotte is Bobby Flay’s wife Stephanie March’s sister, among other things)
The chapter on Fall starts with an essay about the return of apples, cabbages, mushrooms and nuts, and cooking techniques of the season:
Longer cooking techniques like slow roasting and braising for meat and poultry, become a focus, but don’t put away the grill yet. (p. 151)
For each season there is a calendar of ingredients for each month. October fruits are Blueberry, Bosc Pear, Concord Grape, Honey Crisp Apple, and McIntosh that change to December’s Blood Orange, Bosc Pear, Cranberry, Sate, Honey Crisp Apple Kumquat, Mandarin, McIntosh Apple, Meyer Lemon, Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Quince. Many foodies won’t need these lists, but others new to cooking will appreciate them. Can you glean that information from your local supermarket? Maybe, but the point is, strawberries aren’t on the list, so pass them by.
The recipes for fall stick to the ingredients laid out on the calendar. The recipes are a combination of French and American inspired home and restaurant fare. Some are complex and time consuming, but others demand only fine ingredients. Pigs in a Blanket “Ritz-Carlton” (p. 159) a rift on a hot dog – in this case wieners from Schaller and Weber – in puff pastry served with sauerkraut and mustard – perfect for the World Series. There is earthy Homemade Gnocchi, Lamb Sausage, & Swiss Chard with Fennel Beurre Blanc (p. 165) and a more sophisticated Langoustine with Marinate Matsutake Mushrooms & Sunchokes (p. 167). There is plenty here for a lovely Thanksgiving feast starting with Butternut Squash Soup with Foie Gras & Wild Mushroom Crostini (p. 172), Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Marcona Almonds (p. 175) and Roasted Turkey with Chestnut-Sausage Stuffing, Cranberry-Grenadine Relish, & Rosemary Gravy. Laurent provides his own (different) suggestions for menus for Thanksgiving or a Wine Harvest (pp. 224-5).
Fresh from the Market is punctuated with excellent photographs by Quentin Bacon of pumpkins, farmyards, and the finishes dishes. Perhaps the funnest photograph is of the chef sewing up the stuffed cavity of a suckling pig for Aromatic Stuffed Suckling Pig (pp. 198-9). One can almost imagine a smile – on the pig and the chef – after getting filled with such fine stuff.
Fresh from the Market would make a pretty gift for a country visit, or inspiration for a seriously good dinner party.
RECIPE: Pigs in a Blanket “Ritz Carlton”
This is my French twist on one of the most delicious American treats
I have ever had. I ﬁnd it absolutely impossible to eat just one.
Make sure to use a very high-quality puff pastry or try to purchase some
from your local baker, as it will make all the difference.
2 sheets store-bought frozen puff pastry, preferably Dufour brand, thawed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
6 Schaller and Weber wieners (beef and pork)
2 cups grated Roth Käse Grand Cru Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained
1/4 cup Raye’s yellow mustard
Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly ﬂoured, cool surface. Using a lightly ﬂoured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut it into 6 rectangles that are about 7 x 3 inches.
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the ﬂour in a shallow bowl and whisk together the eggs and milk in another shallow bowl. Roll 1 wiener in the ﬂour and then dip it into the egg mixture and place it on a piece of puff pastry. Repeat with the remaining wieners.
Top each wiener with 1/4 cup of the cheese and then wrap the puff pastry tightly around the wiener, pinching the ends to seal completely.
Place the pigs in blankets, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet; brush them with the remaining egg mixture and evenly scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top, pressing to adhere.
Bake until the pastry is golden brown and completely cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Slice each pig in a blanket into 6 pieces and serve with the sauerkraut and a dollop of mustard on top.