Friday, September 24, 2010

Placer County Real Food from Farmers Markets

Placer County Real FoodI used to say that self-publishing was not a good idea. But I'm holding my tongue. For the second time I've come across a fantastic cookbook that was self-published. The first you may remember was the Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook by Amelia Saltsman. It's filled with creative recipes that are inspiring and fresh. The second book to impress me is Placer County Real Food, recipes and menus for ever week of the year by Joanne Neft with Laura Kenny.

This is not a lightweight book written by amateurs. The book begins with Michael Pollan's "an Eater's Manifesto" and an introduction by none other than Deborah Madison! The photography is lovely, the recipes solid and the layout attractive and easy to use. True to its title the book has a year's worth of menus which are naturally in synch with the seasons. While created with the locals of Placer County in mind, certainly anyone on the West Coast will find great ideas for meals all year long. There are salads, side dishes, main dishes and desserts all using farm-fresh ingredients.

Neft, who opened the first Foothill Farmer's Market 20 years ago comes from a midwestern farming family and her food is straight-forward and not fussy. She worked with professional chef Laura Kenny to get the details just right. While there are no vegetarian menus per se, there are plenty of dishes that could be the focus of a vegetarian or even vegan meal.

I suggest skipping the dates in the book and going by what's in season near you. It's tomato season here in the Bay Area at the moment, and the Chilled Tomato Soup made by grating tomatoes with a box grater and adding balsamic vinegar, olive oil and basil with a swirl of creme fraiche sounds refreshing and the Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad Greek Style is a nice twist on the original. Often it's just subtle seasonings to already delicious ingredients that characterize the recipes. Side dishes like Corn with Cumin or Roasted Baby Carrots with Chard and Cilantro are dead simple to make. Not sure what to do with persimmons, pea shoots or pomegranates? WIth short ingredient lists and easy techniques, this is a fine choice for meat and potatoes types look to branch out with farmer's market produce.

More? Check out a selection of recipes on the cookbook website.