Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Broad Fork Cookbook by Hugh Acheson

The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits by Hugh Acheson, Photographs by Rinne Allen

First, let me say that celebrity chef Hugh Acheson (cheftestant and judge of Bravo's Top Chef and Top Chef Masters) has created a quirky, fun and gorgeously photographed cookbook.  The Broad Fork approaches its fruit and vegetable subjects seasonally and offers interesting and refreshing takes on ingredients both traditional and unusual.

I have enjoyed watching this chef critique dishes for several years on Top Chef and I've always been interested in knowing more about his background and perspective.  Reading through the stories behind these recipes and how his neighbors and friends supply his pantry with the fruits of their farms and gardens was a such a unique and charming take on the traditional cookbook format, that I think any of the recipes I choose to make will be extra special.

This is the kind of book that teaches you about the ingredients while inspiring ideas of how to refine them and gift them to your family's dinner table throughout the year.  Each season highlights a variety of produce and offers exciting ways to prepare it.

Acheson says early in the book that a neighbor's question "what the hell do I do with kohlrabi?" was in part his inspiration for the book's recipes.  It led him to explore the 50 fruits and vegetables he has represented and give in-depth ideas of how to transform the ingredients into something not only delicious but creative.

I too had no idea what to do with kohlrabi (or even what it was) but some of the ideas he has for more familiar produce like blackberries, apples, pecans, asparagus and beets are delightful departures from boring dishes or interesting and bold takes on our favorite seasonal fare.

I'm excited to try several of the book's recipes and will be able to put our humble vegetable garden and blackberries from this summer to good use in dishes such as the Southern ratatouille and blackberry cobbler with drop biscuit topping.  Pictured below are a few of the gettings from our garden that will be made into something special with the help of this book.

Truly, this book is gorgeous and I can't heap enough praise upon photographer Rinne Allen.  Her photos are so lively that they would convince anyone of the food's quality and make them wish they could dive into these plates for a bite.  Chef Acheson must be very grateful to work with such a talented artist.

Thank you to the kind folks at Blogging for Books and Crown Publishing for providing me with this review copy.  I look forward to making many happy dishes from the 200 recipes in it, through your generosity.