At a Glance
Title: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook
Authors: Brent Ridge, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Sandy Gluck
Publisher: Rodale Books
Release Date: 2014
Cover Price: $32.50
Target Audience: Kitchen gardeners with a deep love of heirloom vegetables; chef-farmers who want to eat as well as their market customers will
Heirloom vegetables are a foodie’s dream. Anyone who’s bitten into an heirloom tomato can never go back to a bland supermarket variety—not voluntarily, anyway. Heirlooms aren’t only a gastronomist’s paradise; they’re also a farmer’s—these age-old strains and varietals haven’t survived by accident. They’re hardy, they’re flavorful and they’re bona fide farm moneymakers. In the third installment of their Heirloom series, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook, the Beekman Boys, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, along with Sandy Gluck, have crafted a collection of 100 accessible, delicious recipes that let these veggies take center stage.
With recipes running the gamut from Rhubarb Soda Floats and Caramelized Onion and Potato Hand Pies to Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding and Beet Chocolate Cake with Candied Beet Topping, the cookbook is split into four primary sections, with 25 recipes representing each season. Most, but not all, recipes are also photographed skillfully by Paulette Tavormina, who has an excellent eye for finding the beauty in the simple things, like unshelled fava beans on a kitchen counter.
Each recipe page also features valuable space for notes—something many cookbooks don’t include, to their detriment. Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell want you to make this cookbook an integral part of your seasonal eating by letting you customize their recipes as you see fit; the book is a celebration of delicious vegetables, not a stringent, inflexible guide to narrow-minded veggie prep. As such, they encourage you to tweak, adjust and remake their recipes throughout—more chefs and farmers should be so kind.
Just because the cookbook focuses on vegetables doesn’t mean that other food groups aren’t represented, either; there are a large number of meat-inclusive main dishes, including Masala Chicken with Rhubarb, and fruit-focused sides and desserts, like Candied Fennel and Fried Lemons. Veggies are still the star of the majority of the book’s recipes, but the collection is much more than simple sautéed side dishes and puréed soups.
Where Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell may not impress with recipe originality, they succeed in flavor individuality—their riff on traditional sweet potato casserole cuts the dish’s innate sugariness with lime juice and adds smoky ancho chile powder for complexity, coconut milk for creaminess and coconut flakes for added texture. This ain’t your mama’s Thanksgiving side dish, but it does still have that marshmallow topping you know and love.
The Final Word
If you’re growing vegetables on your farm—and who isn’t?—this cookbook has at least one recipe (and likely more) that uses the crop(s) in fresh, exciting ways. It’s a nice addition to any kitchen gardener’s bookshelf.
Start growing heirloom vegetables worthy of this cookbook:
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