Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables, by Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg
Farms and chefs are natural collaborators. So many chefs are lusting after their own kitchen garden and setting up farm-to-table collaborations, and chefs have long recognised that quality produce is integral to cooking.
Six Seasons is all about letting that great produce speak for itself. In 2008, chef Joshua McFadden left Dan Barber's Blue Hill restaurant in New York City for the Four Seasons Farm in Maine, transforming the farm stand into a restaurant serving the farm's produce. Now he's the owner of Ava Gene's, an Italian restaurant in Portland, with a menu described as "locally sourced, aggressively seasonal", and he hasn't forgotten the lessons he learned. Here he shares his knowledge of how chefs can make the most of seasonal vegetables in this substantial title.
According to McFadden, there are six microseasons: spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, fall and winter. Each season's produce is split accordingly, with several pages devoted to each vegetable and the ways to use them.
The recipes aren't fussy or overcomplicated and rarely involve too many instructions or a lot of prep, but rather they leave the ingredients to do the talking with a bit of gentle seasoning, oil and vinegar. McFadden admits to using many of them in his own restaurant. For any chef looking to boost the seasonality of their menus (and who isn't?), this is a good place to start.
The first few chapters take you through McFadden's larder, with plenty of tips and suggestions as well as recipes for sauces, vinaigrettes and pickles. Simple dishes follow, such as pumpkin bolognese and crispy mushrooms with green herb mayonnaise, while the kale and mushroom lasagne is a hearty vegetable-based dish that would easily please both vegetarian and carnivorous customers.
McFadden's recipes often have an Italian twist, such as a classic Roman springtime vignole of stewed green veg, inspired by the time he spent at the American Academy in Rome.
The book ends with one single footnote: "PS don't buy tomatoes in winter." Sage words for any chef.
If you like Six Seasons you might enjoy these:
- On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen, Jeremy Fox
- The Great Dixter Cookbook, Aaron Bertelsen
- The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookboo,k Salma Hage