Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cookbooks: Harvest to Heat: Cooking With America’s Best Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans by Kelly Kochendorfer and Darryl Estrine

Thigh-deep in the new food movement, one sometimes wonders where it’s all going to end. Occasionally I came across a book and say: “This. This is it. There is no place -- better, more pure, more perfectly in sync with beautiful food -- than this. And then another book comes along and blows everything that has gone before out of the water.

Harvest to Heat (Taunton) is one such book. It seems to perfectly balance, marry and blend thoughts from the locavore, Slow Food and green movements into one perfectly harmonious whole. This is real world whole food, grown locally, prepared by regional chefs -- some of them internationally known -- at the top of their game. Edited here into book form by a talented, experienced food writer and photographer (doing some writing here, as well). The whole is, well, just as you’d expect: pitch perfect, polished and ready to heat up your home kitchen.

For me, the success of Harvest to Heat comes from that blend. The writing here is not only very good, it’s spot on: and so you have a surprisingly easy, yet elegant recipe recipe from Gale Gand of Chicago’s Tru for Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Caramelized Figs followed by a section of prose called “Goats from A to Z,” that talks about the goats at Capriole Farm in Greenville, Indiana. Or a recipe from Nancy Silverton from Los Angeles’ Osteria Mozza for Burrata with Speck, Peas, and Mint followed by a discussion with Mimmo Bruno of DiStefano’s Cheese in Baldwin Park, California who is dedicated to making burrata, “Mozzarella’s Sweet Cousin.”

In some ways, this has been done before, but not this well, and the idea has not been taken this far. The recipes here are all very good: all lucidly shared and brilliantly photographed. This is Estrine and Kochnedorfer’s first book: one expects it will not be their last. ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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