Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Salon: Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagasse

I normally don’t read or even own too many cookbooks. Maybe if I did, I’d be a better cook. LOL However, when I had the opportunity to review this new cookbook I couldn’t resist. I not only like the concept of the cookbook, but I enjoy watching the author/chef as he prepares his dishes on TV.

As we beginning enjoying the lazy days of summer, thoughts turn to family get-togethers, barbecues, and picnics with lots of wonderful food. Also with summer comes more fresh vegetables either from one’s own garden or the local market.

Renowned Chef Emeril Lagasse has a new cookbook that is devoted to using fresh, locally grown (and organic when possible) ingredients when preparing any type of dish.

FARM TO FORK: COOKING LOCAL, COOKING FRESH is a beautifully illustrated cookbook that not only includes the ingredients and directions to preparing a dish, but also give a little information about the dish.

In the introduction, author/chef Lagasse explains how he came to enjoy picking fresh vegetables as a child and then as an adult using fresh ingredients in his dishes. He also notes that he and several other chefs, along with a farmer, even started a farm co-op just so they could have fresh, locally grown ingredients. In addition, he explains the many benefits of using organically grown local vegetables.

An interesting point that he makes is when you get children involved in the growing process of vegetables, they are more likely to eat them when they’re prepared.

As we all strive to be more “green” for our environment, this cookbook provides delicious recipes for every season. The cookbook is divided into 15 sections. They covers such topics as: the herb garden; leafy greens; the three sisters: corn, beans, and squash; fresh from the docks; out on the range; and home economics: preserving the harvest to name just a few.

Here is just a taste of the recipes included in the book:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
10 ounces fresh red Fresno chiles or jalapenos, stemmed and cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices (see Note)
6 cloves garlic, smashed
¾ cup thinly sliced onions
¾ cup chopped carrots
1 ¾ teaspoon salt
2 cups water
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
1 cup distilled white vinegar

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the chiles, garlic, onions, and carrots. Add the salt. Cook the peppers in the pan for 5 minutes; it is okay if they blister or blacken, stirring as needed.

2. Add the water and cilantro, and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. (Note: This should be done in a very well ventilated area!) Remove the pan from the heat and allow the peppers to cool to room temperature.

3. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender, and puree for 15 seconds. While the machine is still running, add the vinegar in a steady stream, continuing to puree on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the sauce to a sterilized pint jar, bottles, or other container. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 months.

NOTE: If you are a fan of poblano peppers, substitute 6 ounces roasted poblanos (about 2 peppers) and 6 ounces jalepenos for the 10 ounces of chiles above. (See page 44 for roasting instructions.)

About 2 cups.


4 pints fresh blackberries, rinsed briefly and drained
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and rolling out
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the berries with ½ cup of the sugar, the cornstarch, and the lemon juice. Toss well. Place the berry mixture in a deep-dish pie plate and cover it with foil. Set the pie plate on a baking sheet (to catch any juices that may bubble over later) and transfer it to the oven. Bake until the berries begin to release their juices and soften, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. While the berries are baking, combine 3 tablespoons of the remaining sugar with the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and work it in with a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the ¾ cup heavy cream and the vanilla, and stir until the mixture just comes together to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and dust it lightly with flour. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a thickness of about ½ inch. Using a 2 ½-inch floured cutter, cut the dough into 8 rounds.

4. When the berries have softened, remove the baking dish from the oven and remove the foil covering. Stir the berries well to distribute the juices. Arrange the dough rounds on top of the berries. Brush the rounds with the remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream, and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over them. Scatter the remaining butter pieces over the hot berries. Return the baking dish to the oven and cook until the biscuits are golden brown and the berries are hot and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.

5. Remove the dish from the oven and allow the cobbler to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm, spooned into shallow bowls and garnished with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

6 to 8 servings

If you enjoy good food and fresh vegetables, FARM TO FORK is the perfect cookbook giving you a better understand of how the food chain works. In addition, it teaches how to make the most of using fresh ingredients found locally when cooking. With Father’s Day just around the corner, FARM TO FORK is a handy cookbook for that weekend chef or everyday cook.

Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh by Emeril Lagasse, Photography by Steven Freeman, Harper Studio, 2010, ISBN: 9780061742958, Paperback, 336 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


  1. THis is indeed my moto .. cooking local, cooking fresh. I have had the first tomatoes last week, I love the idea of looking forward to tasting something I have not had since ... last october! And my first strawberries, and asparragus ... I love the seasons and I eat local!

  2. This sounds like a wonderful cookbook! I bet I could get a lot of use out of it since I'm lucky enough to have a local organic farmer.

  3. Oh, I'm definitely a Lagasse fan. This recipe sounds so GOOD. Another selling point for the book would have to be the lifestyle...going organic is so appealing to even those of us who just don't have the time!

  4. That's a great title for a book and I love blackberry cobbler. Mine goes a bit soggy sometimes so I'm going to try this recipe and see if I have any more luck.

  5. Now you're talking my language - blackberry cobbler.

    PS - I've been told I am a good cook, but cooking is torture for me. I do it for family gatherings and they seem to like it.

  6. Mason, I saw Emeril's face and thought, "Oh no, nothing for me!" I am a vegan (no meat, chicken, fish, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt...nothing from an animal) but the very first recipe you posted was vegan! YIPPEE!! Will share with hubby who LOVES anything hot. Thanks so much!

  7. Laura, I can only image the great markets you would have nearby to select fresh vegetables and fruits from. I'm looking forward to fresh strawberries from a nearby farm too.

    Bermudaonion, you are indeed lucky if you have an organic farmer nearby. We have a neighbor who has fresh eggs and honey.

    Elizabeth, the lifestyle of this book is one of the reasons it appealed to me. I definitely like the idea of using locally grown ingredients. And, Lagasse is a wonderful chef.

    DJ, I've never tried to make a blackberry cobbler before but I'm giving this recipe a try too. Hope yours turns out great.

    Teresa, I would bet you are a great cook.

    Lisa, there are so many wonderful vegetable recipes in this book. Hope you enjoy the HOMEMADE HOT SAUCE recipe.

  8. The Blackberry Cobbler sounds good. And...the blackberries in our garden are beginning to turn black! Yay. Don't know that we'll have enough for a cobbler, but we'll see.

    Straight From Hel

  9. The recipes look great!

    When the kids were younger we grew a veggie garden for just that reason. They each had a section and they got to choose what to grow. They always wanted to eat 'their' veggies. Years later, they're still 2 of the healthiest teens I know - they love their veggies!

  10. Helen, the cobbler recipe does sound yummy and to have berries from your own garden just makes it that much better.

    Jemi, teaching kids about growing vegetables is great. It does make a difference in how they look at vegetables. In the book, Lagasse talks about where they have started gardens with schools and I think that is just awesome.

  11. That blacberry cobbler sounds delicious!

  12. Buying local and cooking fresh has been on my mind lately, especially since the oil-spill has emphasized the need to get back to what's important about the environment.

    Nice book review and thanks for bringing this book to us.

  13. I used to grow vegetables and fruit in England but everyone works so many more hours here I stopped doing it. This year though I planted some and dug up my first potatoes this week and picked some tomatoes. Blackberries are growing too. This sounds like a good book. My family are looking into buying meat from local farms too where the animals are not pumped full of artificial stuff.
    Ann Summerville
    Cozy In Texas

  14. That hot sauce looks great! I usually cut up fresh carrots and fresh chayote and pickle them with hot Jamaican peppers in vinegar amd a touch of salt. Spicy condiments! Emeril's sounds even better! Here's
    My Sunday Salon

  15. Sounds good! I like the recipes, and even more than that, I like the idea of locally grown organic produce--so much better for people and the environment. (Have You read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle?)

  16. Ooh, those recipes sound delicious! Honestly, I don't think I've ever bought a cook-book. And I don't own any. Maybe I should!

    Thanks for the review.

  17. Great review and the cobbler recipe comes at the perfect time for me. I just picked two quarts of blackberries from my berry bushes this morning.

  18. LadyFi, doesn't blackberry cobbler just make you think of summer?

    Lou, the oil spill definitely has made up think of our environment more. In the book's introduction Lagasse talks about the problems the LA fishermen were already having.

    Ann, we haven't grown potatoes in years. Our neighbor that has the eggs and honey is starting to raise beef too. Can't wait to buy locally organically raised beef.

    Harvee, your recipe sounds good too. Enjoyed your Sunday Salon.

    Mary, locally grown organic ingredients are so much better for us. I haven't read Barbara Kingsolver's book. I'll have to check on it. Thanks.

    Talli, LOL with all the great food items you share I would have thought you has a vast array of cookbooks.

    MaryAnn, oh you're really making me hungry. That is perfect timing. Hope you make a cobbler and enjoy.

  19. And since food is so overprocessed and full of chemicals these days, this sounds like a refreshing idea for a cookbook!

  20. Diane, I think more and more people are trying to get away from those foods filled with chemicals and overprocessed. This is an ideal cookbook for that.

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  23. It seems like a lovely and enlightening book for American readers since we know how obsessed with ready-made food Americans are. I was always quite shocked by it, since here in my country we eat only fresh made food and we buy groceries at green markets.


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