Sunday, February 15, 2015
Tasting the Seasons: Inspired In-Season Cuisine That's Easy, Healthy, Fresh and Fun
Author: Kerry Dunnington
Publisher: Artichoke Publishers (2014)
I am a huge fan of local, seasonal cooking, placing an emphasis on whole foods and sustainable goods over those labeled "organic". Cookbooks are capitalizing on the idea that seasonal eating often means better-tasting, less-expensive food, including Kerry Dunnington's new book Tasting the Seasons: Inspired In-Season Cuisine That's Easy, Healthy, Fresh and Fun. The book shares 250 recipes and is designed to inspire a sustainable approach to cooking and, in particular, entertaining.
The chapters in Seasons include appetizers, "enhancers" (essentially sides), breakfast and lunch, hearty as well as light soups, vegetarian and pescatarian main dishes, red meat, chicken and pork dishes, cold and warm vegetable dishes, baked goods and desserts. There is also a resource list, as well as a section on choosing and preparing food with an ecological mindset.
Looking through this book, it is clear that Dunnington is more of a catering chef and tree-hugging environmentalist than a true seasonal cook. While the majority of the recipes could certainly be prepared with some seasonal and locally fresh items, the message is mixed due to her inclusion of hard-to-find or specialty store-bought ingredients that are impossible to substitute. Two recipes, for example, call for "Winter Sippers Hot Buttered Rum Mix" - a prepackaged mixture of mystery ingredients that you have to order online, and only during certain months of the year. While I can appreciate that it may lend flavour to a certain dish, I would have appreciated an easy to find ingredient list with a suggestion of a pre-mix, rather than providing no alternate at all. I also applaud the author's clear belief in local eating, but a certain amount of globally available components need to be included, since it's impossible to assume every cook has reliable access to Dunnington's marketplace.
The dishes in the book are certainly flavourful and easy to prepare - in particular, the soup dishes in Seasons pack a punch and are perfect for this time of year. However, the organization of the book could use some work (for example, using the labels "Fish" and "Vegetarian" for two separate chapters of recipes rather than a catch-all "Pescetarian" title) and since recipes are not organized according to the seasons (a reasonable assumption, given that the book is internationally distributed), the premise of the book is somewhat lost. Truly, this could just be another cookbook of delicious, entertaining-friendly fare, which while perfectly deserving of appreciation is not necessarily helping the reader with "Tasting the Seasons" as implied.
Available on Amazon