Bring on full-blown spring: Those first evenings cooking outdoors. The profusion of new vegetables at the farmer’s market. We want to savor all this vernal goodness before the summer blast furnace arrives, and two new cookbooks are here to help you do just that with every vegetable and piece of protein that crosses our countertops. Read on to learn why you need a copy of each in your kitchen.
Vegetables: Avowed local-foods lover chef Hugh Acheson’s new book, The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits ($35) starts off with a neighbor asking: “What the hell do I do with kohlrabi?” From that query, Acheson spins recipes for kohlrabi salad with pecans, lime, paprika and marjoram and steamed kohlrabi with shallots. From there, Acheson comes up with ideas for every vegetable anyone has ever wrinkled their noses at, including yacon (you might have to Google that one; we did), sunchokes and salsify. It’s not all outliers, either: there are plenty of inventive takes for quotidian offerings like sweet potatoes and apples as well.
Meat: New York restaurateur Joe Carroll (of Fette Sau and St. Anselm fame) comes right out and says it in his new book, Feeding the Fire: Recipes and Strategies for Better Barbecue and Grilling ($30), “A bad piece of meat can’t be rescued, no matter how many other ingredients or flourishes you throw at it. But a high-quality heritage breed steak or chop doesn’t need more than some salt and a lot of heat to become the best thing you’ve ever tasted.” This is lesson number one in Carroll’s book, which lays out how to choose the best proteins at the butcher, supermarket and beyond. The book is a must for anyone who wants to understand the “hows” and “whys” of live-fire cooking and left us lusting to try his recipe for caramelized long beans. The recipe is so quick that you can cook the beans in the time it takes for your hanger steaks or grilled salmon collars to rest after they come off the grill.
- 1 pound Chinese long beans, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Start charcoal and let burn until coals are glowing red and coated in gray ash, about 15 minutes. Spread an even layer of charcoal, about one or two coals deep, over the bottom of the grill.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Blanch the beans for 1 minute, then transfer to the ice bath. When they are cool, drain the beans.
- Put the beans on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss until coated, then season with salt and pepper.
- Grill the beans, moving and turning them frequently with tongs, until crisp-tender and charred in spots, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and drizzle with the warm butter. Sprinkle with the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss and serve.