Sunday, March 13, 2011

“The Farmer’s Kitchen” – A Cookbook by Julia Shanks and Brett Grohsgal - And a Giveaway

If you’ve ever found yourself flummoxed by what to do with the mind-boggling variety of fresh produce available at the farmers’ market or through your CSA, Julia Shanks and Brett Grohsgal have created a manual just for you. The team has published the cookbook “The Farmer’s Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Your CSA and Farmers’ Market Foods.” The book draws on their years of experience in professional kitchens and on the farm.

Julia is a chef and consultant to restaurants, farms and food producers. She also authors the blog “Grow, Cook, Eat” where she chronicles the culinary creations that come from her urban vegetable garden in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Brett worked in restaurants for nearly two decades and now runs Even’ Star Organic Farm in Lexington Park, Maryland. Their collective wisdom on culinary techniques and fresh produce has helped to create a highly targeted guide with dozens of seasonal recipes that maximize freshness and flavor.

Julia Shanks is a chef, consultant and food blogger
Julia and Brett realized that people were often challenged by the variety of vegetables and the amount of produce they receive as part of a CSA share.
“I don’t subscribe to a CSA,” say Julia. “I rely more on my own garden and the farmers’ market, but the perennial complaint that I hear is, If I get another &*$%$% bunch of Swiss chard, I’m going to scream.”
Julia says CSA members often struggle with “hard to use” veggies or even some vegetables that they don’t even know where to begin – like Kohlrabi. Even the more benign vegetables like cucumbers can become overwhelming when you get three pounds for three weeks in a row, and home cooks need help coming up with new ideas and long-term storage tips to manage the bounty.
“This book was designed to help the consumer navigate through the diversity and abundance of the produce available,” she explains. “We wanted people to have a guide for all the wonderful - and sometimes weird - foods that farmers grow.”
Brett Grohsgal manages Even’ Star Organic Farm in Maryland
Brett had already created a CSA cookbook for his subscribers in Maryland as a way to help educate them about the produce he grows and give suggestions on how to use it. As a farmer, he most valued how the cookbook not only simplified the communication with his customers but also promoted loyalty. The team thought that other farmers would appreciate such a tool as well.
“The Farmer’s Kitchen” contains A to Z descriptions of a large variety of vegetables, greens and herbs as well as storage tips and shelf life advice to assure optimal freshness. Brett says even some of the more basic tips – like storing mesclun in Tupperware with a moist paper towel – are so important, yet aren’t taught in cooking school.
"The Farmer’s Kitchen” also bursts with more than 200 simple recipes utilizing culinary techniques that bring out the best in local, seasonal produce. Julia says one of the bigger challenges in assembling the book was taking their professional culinary experiences and distilling that knowledge into accessible recipes and tips.
“Between the two of us, we have 35 years of professional cooking experience,” she says. “It was important to translate “chef-speak” into “normal-person-speak.”
Julia says the recipes have the distinct personalities of the co-authors.
“For me the most surprising and fun recipes were Brett’s,” she says. “I made the “Savory Vegetarian Greens with Potatoes” (page 132) for the first time skeptical that it would be bland and boring. I ended up really loving this dish and have made it countless times since.”
Brett’s favorites are the squash blossom recipes (pages 215 – 216), the Stuffed Peppers (page 178) and the Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad (page 251).
At its core, “The Farmer’s Kitchen” reflects the co-authors’ deep passion for the glories of eating seasonally.
“We hope people will learn that there’s really great food to be found at the Farmers’ Markets and CSAs, to be more adventurous at the farmers’ markets, and take advantage of all the wonderful foods that farmers’ grow,” says Julia.
I prepared the following recipe from “The Farmer’s Kitchen.” When pan roasted, the sliced Brussels sprouts were so rich and savory, I almost couldn’t stop eating them!

Quinoa with Roasted Brussels Sprouts - courtesy of “The Farmer’s Kitchen” by Brett Grohsgal and Julia Shanks
½ cup quinoa
½ pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin or chopped
½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: ¼ cup toasted, slivered almonds

Rinse quinoa under cold water. Put in a small sauce pot and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until quinoa has popped and is cooked through.
Meanwhile, cut Brussels sprouts in half and then slice thin.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, and let heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until aromatic. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring regularly, until they are bright green and soft. Remove from heat.

When quinoa is cooked, drain excess water. Toss with Brussels. Add juice from ½ lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in almonds, if using.

If you’d like to receive a copy of “The Farmer’s Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Your CSA and Farmers’ Market Foods,” leave a comment on this post between now and Saturday, March 19th at 11:59 p.m. EDT, and tell me about your favorite vegetable from the farmers’ market or CSA. One winner will be chosen at random and announced, appropriately, on Sunday, March 20th, which is the first day of Spring. We can only ship within the United States.
©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm so excited to hear they've included storage tips in the book. I get so upset with myself with things "go bad" before their time on my watch. Your brussel sprouts look so vibrant. Great recipe.

Wonderful give-away T.W. Tomatoes are by far my very favorite from the farmers market, especially heirloom varieties, closely followed by baby lettuces. I see a salad in my future.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! These folks are in my back yard...near one of my favorite ports on the Chesapeake Bay (Solomon's Island)! I'll definitely look into their CSA and cookbook!Hope you are well! Best from both of us in sunny Florida!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I just got my copy of Julia's book this week and I'm looking forward to cooking along with the seasons this summer.

~~louise~~ said...

Happy Sunday, T.W!
What a wonderful give-away!

Let's see, favorite veggie from the farmers' market. Hmmm, that would be beets. I've recently learned that I adore fresh beets but I'm yet to figure out how to store them.

I 'm fond of brussels sprouts as well, especially roasted! That dish looks yummy!!!

Thanks for sharing and the give-away!

Deana Sidney said...

You got me with brussel sprouts and quinoa... great idea. I always relied on Bert Green's Green on Greens -- my go to book for veggies. Nice to know there is an alternative. If you grow zucchini you need a million ways to use them (especially when you leave for the week and they are 1" long and you come back on Friday they are 3' long and weigh a ton. HELP!!! I'd love this book!

Mallory said...

This books sounds like an excellent resource!!! This season, my favorite vegetable from the farmer's market is winter squash--especially kabocha, blue hubbard, buttercup, and delicata! Before this year, I had only tried butternut squash, but the farmers at the market in my home town encouraged me to try other varieties--I am SO glad I took their advice!

Thanks for the chance to win!

sweetsunshine13 AT hotmail DOT com

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a wonderful resource for the home kitchen. Your sprouts look delicious T.W.
Fennel and leeks are my favorite market choices. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

That is an interesting recipe that you prepared. We don't have CSA around here but that book would still be great to try all the different vegetables that I find a my local market.

Ford M said...

Who couldn't love the golden beet? The color is so beautiful on a white plate, and I swear the taste is much smoother than its purple cousin. I was introduced only a couple of summers ago by a good friend in a simple recipe of goat cheese, walnuts, and vinagrette. Now I am the first one at the farm stand as soon as beet season begins.

Diane said...

A great idea for a book. Hope it comes in small size to fit in my bag so I can carry it with me to the Market. I'm always seeing interesting things and wondering what other ingredients I need to make an interesting dish. I hesitate to go the CSA route due to too many vegetables. But i do enjoy the Farmer's Market to augment our own garden. I always look for locally grown leeks... my favorite purchase at our Farmer's markets.

Barbara said...

The book sounds wonderful. I love books about vegetables; especially when they include recipes, storage tips and how-to information about veggies we may not be familiar with. Jack Bishop's book is my all time favorite, but I'd love to add The Farmer's Kitchen to my shelf!

Bok choy and fennel are my two favorites right now.

Velva said...

I would love to win your giveaway for Julia's cookbook. Tomatoes in the summer would be my favorite farmer market delight.

Julia's cookbook is an excellent way to encourage people to sign-up for a local CSA-with a book handy, there is less to fear about how to use/identify/store your vegetables.


tasteofbeirut said...

Ah! Brussel sprouts! I almost forgot them this year! That dish looks terrific and I have to try quinoa one of these days! The cookbook sounds very informative and knowledgeable.

Unknown said...

This book sounds like a great resource for folks that participate in CSAs! I joined one last fall and storage was definitely something that I continually struggled with. It was hard to find tips on how to store all the different types of vegetables that we got, and a lot of them were completely new to me.

One of my new favorites is arugula - so much flavor in such an unsuspecting leaf! Can't wait until leafy greens are more common up here in Vermont!

Lori said...

Looks like a wonderful book. I can't wait to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Quinoa and brussel sprouts....must try. thanks, mary in Cincinnati

Fresh Local and Best said...

This looks like a really good and healthy way to prepare brussels sprouts. I love the addition of the almonds, and quinoa. I am definitely bookmarking this!