I'm head over heels for this book. It took no time at all to become a top favorite. I've been cooking through each season as the calendar advances and expect it will inspire delicious eating for years to come.
Here's what I love about this book:
Not all seasons are equally rich with ripening produce, so instead of giving the four seasons equal weight like others have done, McFadden expands beyond the four to give the particularly productive summer months extra weight by expanding it into three seasons (early-summer, mid-summer, and late-summer). I loved the note in the forward by his former farm-boss about how seasons aren't confined to the dates on the calendar: "We like to say that there are 365 seasons of the year, when each day finds certain ingredients in their absolute prime state."
I have a slightly biased view on this section, a number of the products mentioned are imported by the company I work for and I know firsthand that they are some of they best you can buy. I had no idea McFadden wrote about our products before buying the book, but it was a nice bonus to discover my pantry is already stocked as he recommends.
As you cook through you begin to see repeating flavor themes. I loved the combo of lemon juice + zest + good olive oil + red chili flakes, a formula that is fantastic every time and never feels over done. I love that I can now take that formula and apply it to my own improvisational cooking.
The thing I love about ingredient driven books is to see the range and creativity of what you can do with a single product. Many sections include raw preparation, cooked, salads, pastas. I can't get enough, the moment I make one recipe I'm off to bookmark the next.
This is a gorgeous salad, but its good looks are probably the best thing about it. There's nothing bad about, but the flavors never really came together—each thing good on its own, but they flavors don't lend anything to one another.
Sub-recipe: Basic Vegetable Pickle Brine with Cherries and Thyme
What a beautiful pickle! Its quite the stunner, although once pickled you really don't get much cherry flavor, instead just taste the brine. That wouldn't keep me from making them again though, the visual is worth it.
What a fantastic dish! This was relatively easy to put together, the hardest part was waiting the recommend two hours for the compound butter to chill (I didn't end up waiting that long). The rest came together easily, the stars of the dish being the Cacio e Pepe Butter, and the pancetta. The snap peas were a beautiful element, but their flavor was pretty muted, probably lost to the hot water blanch, but at least I got some veggies as I enjoyed my bowl of pasta.
Sub-recipe: Cacio e Pepe Butter
The Cacio e Pepe Butter delivers a ton of flavor and can also be used on roasted veggies, potatoes, and spread on toast.
I wish I had a better photo, this was the first recipe I made from the book and it completely won me over.
The recipe feels a little Ottolenghi-ish, and by that I mean each ingredient requires a certain amount of prep, but results in layers of flavor, each working perfectly together.
The soft cooked eggs were perfect at the recommended 6 minutes with a cooked white and perfectly jammy/runny yolk (I'll definitely use that timing again.) My boyfriend proclaimed that if this was served to him in a restaurant he would be extremely happy. I have to give credit where its due and acknowledge in addition to the fine recipe the quality of ingredients played a major role—Vital Farms Pastured Eggs, TONDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy, Honey Gold Potatoes, and Ortiz Boneless Sardines.
I know others have loved this (ahem, Deb from Smitten Kitchen), and I did too, although the portions are fairly large, and I got tired of the leftovers. On day one I loved the dish—bright and delicious. The breadcrumbs and walnuts seemingly unify, everything takes on a nutty flavor. Its not that it wasn't great, I just fell out of love after a day or two. This is worth making, but I'd recommend making enough for one sitting.
This recipe combines a few of my favorite ingredients: zucchini, tomatoes, and fish sauce and results in a fresh and crunch salad, perfectly refreshing. I didn't own a mandoline at the time I made this - everything was hand cut (the ugly pieces are hidden on the bottom), nevertheless the salad is a stunner.
Note: Eat this fresh when you make, otherwise you'll find yourself with a soggy salad.
Sub-recipe: Fish-Sauce Sauce
Great instruction on making the pastry, it worked great. The filling was pretty good, I really loved the cabbage and everything else, at least, that was before adding the sauce. The sauce is umami-packed but maybe overly-so, or maybe I just used too-aged a balsamic. Anyhow I'd make it again, but would trust my instincts on seasoning the sauce.
Charred Broccoli with Tonnato, Pecorino, Lemon, and Chiles (3 forks rating, reviewed May 2017)
Green Bean, Tuna, and Mushroom "Casserole" (5 forks rating, reviewed August 2017)
Broccoli Rabe, Mozzarella, Anchovy and Spicy Tomato (4 forks rating, reviewed August 2017)
Kale Sauce with Pappardelle (4 forks rating, reviewed January 2018)
IACP Cookbook of the Year (Rescinded) via Eater
Six Seasons Review on Publishers Weekly