Fall Into Good Cooking
The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther
In an old-fashioned take on modern cooking, Jennifer McGruther’s The Nourished Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2014) joins the growing traditional foods movement, focusing on what McGruther calls “the foods of our great-great- grandmothers—the foods of gardens and farms.”
Part recipe book and part lifestyle guide, The Nourished Kitchen offers an expansive range of recipes for preparing good old-fashioned local, unprocessed meals.
Each chapter tackles one food group. McGruther advises readers on where to find foods and how to prepare them traditionally: how to home-cure bacon for Bacon-Wrapped Pheasant, for example, and where to find sustainably fished halibut for Pan-Seared Halibut with Melted Cherry Tomatoes and Tarragon.
Casual cooks may be put off by some of McGruther’s obscure ingredients and time-intensive techniques (we can’t all go foraging in a nearby forest!) but most of the recipes are brightly original crowd-pleasers that locavore cooks would love to try and most anyone will love to eat.
Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but thanks to boat-to-table seafood and a remarkable number of local specialties, it’s got big flavor. With Providence & Rhode Island Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Ocean State (Globe Pequot Press, 2014), Linda Beaulieu brings 100 of our state’s best recipes together so you can recreate them in your kitchen.
The book is divided into sections for Providence, Newport, South County and the suburbs. Flipping through, you’ll find a range of recipes, some relatively uncomplicated, others for the more accomplished home cook.
There are plenty of offerings from Rhode Island mainstays (Al Forno’s lobster risotto, Castle Hill Inn’s pork and clams with Littleneck stuffies) but there are at least as many from relative newcomers (apple-pear compote from Blackie’s Bulldog Tavern, for example).
With in-depth chef and restaurant profiles for each recipe, Beaulieu’s latest is more than just a cookbook—it’s a roadmap of Rhode Island’s culinary heritage.
—Elizabeth A. Davis
Full disclosure: I have a recipe in this cookbook. So do several other Edible publishers and editors from the U.S. and Canada. But all you really need to know about Lodge Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking from Coast to Coast (Oxmoor House, 2014), produced by the cast-iron cookery manufacturer of the same name, is that it might be the most mouthwatering cookbook out there.
The recipes generally reflect the Lodge family’s Southern roots, like My Father’s Grillades, and Spiced Braised Pork Shoulder, not to mention Tasso-Spiced Shrimp With Grits.
Everything is designed to be prepared in a cast-iron implement but honestly, even if you don’t have one yet, other pots and pans will do. Still, five minutes with this book and you’ll be craving a nice old seasoned black skillet. Cast Iron Nation is lavishly garnished with salivary-gland-stimulating photography and the recipes are easy to follow and hugely inviting, even my Skillet Roast Chicken. Often cookbooks that promote a brand can be pedestrian. Not this one. It’s a keeper.