By November, even though we may have days with moderate temperatures, fall is truly upon the Lowcountry. The offerings at the farmers markets have turned the corner, and our thoughts are of hearty foods, rich with root vegetables and greens.
"Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch." Nigel Slater's magnificent "memoir" came out in May, part grower's guidebook, part cook's. While his message has no season, I saved his book because few have approached fall's bounty in Slater's beautiful manner.
Slater on the pumpkin, our symbol of the season: "Even as I write, in the slate gray light of a December afternoon, there is a pumpkin shining bright orange among the blackened leaves and tangled stems. A bowl of soup waiting to happen. ... I would grow a
pumpkin even if it weren't edible. Few things are more beautiful when morning fog swirls round the allotments on a damp November dawn. But the real point of winter squash is the sweetness of its flesh -- only corn on the cob comes anywhere close."
Chapters cover every vegetable from asparagus to zucchini, but I think that what will inspire are those more difficult items that show up on Mother Nature's cold weather menu: the cabbage, Brussels spouts, root vegetables, and greens that Slater treats so lovingly. Purchase the book as a handbook, as a recipe book, or simply as an exceptional example of culinary journalism. Hardcover. $40. And worth every penny of it. Ten Speed Press.
"Saveur: The New Comfort Food: Home Cooking From Around the World." Many of the dishes of fall and winter are, as Saveur editor in chief James Oseland says, "the ones we've known and loved forever; the ones we ate as kids and the ones we yearn for as adults."
The volume contains a selection of these comfort foods from many cuisines. There's Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup and Burgundy-Style Beef Stew. Orecchiette With Rapini and Goat Cheese and Macaroni and Cheese With Ham. For someone in Texas, comfort food might be Slow-Smoked Brisket; in Kentucky, spoonbread and country ham. The recipes are accompanied in delightful Saveur-style with photography, sidebars and stories. Hardcover. Chronicle Books. $35.
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