Thursday, August 26, 2010
The first recipe Myra Goodman ever fashioned does not appear in her second splendid cookbook, The Earthbound Cook: 250 Recipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet, which was released in stores this week. Nor does it appear in her first one – the Food To Live By beauty that sparked the enthusiastic feedback that in turn inspired number two. (“I don’t think I would’ve done another one,” she says, “if it wasn’t for people coming up at football games telling me, ‘I love your cookbook. I cook your brisket and your muffins.’”)
In fact, any remotely sharp knife in the kitchen drawer would predict that first recipe will never see the page of any kitchen manual. But that doesn’t mean Goodman, queen of green, organic and earthy, has forgotten it.
“WonderBread, a squirt of ketchup, and a slice of American cheese on top,” she says. “Homemade pizza.”
Goodman’s journey from ghetto pizza (and nightly TV dinners) in Manhattan to founding Monterey County’s Earthbound Farm, now the largest organic produce pusher in the country, is one that merits mandatory mention in both books, including the tale of the roadside raspberry stand she and her husband Drew started virtually by default on Carmel Valley Road.
“When I discovered how to cook and how to farm and how delicious it could be,” she says, “a whole other world opened up.”
Like Goodman’s journey, the cookbook doesn’t orbit near ordinary. It’s more of a super food resource – and one that represents a Godfather II-quality sequel to her ambitious debut.
As she lays out in the intro, Goodman’s goal here “is to offer you three resources at once”: 1) a comprehensive cookbook; 2) a reference book stuffed with tips, primers and ingredient insights; and 3) a guide to make your kitchen more eco-friendly.
Consequently, the “Leafy Green Salads” chapter includes more than 15 recipes for some of the most ravishing rabbit food you might imagine – like the Earthbound Farm Health Salad (see recipe, p. 41) and its radishes, jicama, carrots and tofu-dill dressing; or the chopped autumn salad with red cabbage, romaine, apples, pears and persimmons. It also presents six “eco-minded living” notes, including “USDA Organic Certification: What Does It Mean” and “Using Cloth Napkins.”
“I want you to feel empowered when you think about environmental issues,” she writes, “not overwhelmed.”
The kitchen, she notes, is a surprisingly powerful place to start paying attention to “the very real ecological challenges facing our planet.”
“Even within that seemingly limited boundary,” she writes, “you’ll be amazed how many issues there are to cover.”
The section further plugs readers into three primers – “A Field Guide to Salad Greens,” “How to Grow Sprouts” and “Escarole” – and 12 handy tips. (“Avoid storing lettuce directly next to apples, pears or bananas. These fruits release ethylene gas, a natural ripening agent that will cause the lettuce to develop brown spots and decay quickly.”) Every nonstick home cook should read her testimony to the power of cast-iron pans.
That beyond-recipes versatility translates to a perfect introduction for a college kid in need of some home ec, or even a veteran chef looking to layer a little more awareness in her lasagna. And since the prodigious pantry of insights retails for about $20, it’s not pricing out the people who need healthy and wholesome awareness most.
The salads chapter is just one of 11 spanning 438 pages. Classic categories are well represented. “Meat and Poultry” brims with treats like braised duck with quince and apples, and Saigon caramel chicken. “Fish and Shellfish” delivers coconut-crusted salmon and Vietnamese shrimp and bok choy curry, but there are also deep and delicious drawers of “Vegetarian Entrees,” “Side Dishes,” “Vegetable and Grain Salads,” “Baking Bread,” “Desserts,” “Breakfast and Lunch” and “Pantry Basics.”
The intense and inspiring meatless options – leek and feta risotto cakes, farro penne, three-color potato salad – can keep vegetarians sizzling for weeks. The pantry section blankets the basics, plus stylish stocks, crusts and sauces, from garlic comfit to crème fraiche. And the bread section – with everything from pesto cheese bread to whole-wheat pizza dough to a trio of homemade bagels – could be its own book.
“I really fell in love with cooking when I learned how to bake bread,” Goodman says. “When I first made pita bread, I couldn’t stop talking about it.”
~ ~ ~
By putting herself on the cover in a strange Photoshopped portrait in front of some fields, Goodman may be signaling that this book is a landmark along the road to her destiny as an all-out progressive eating icon. But her unmistakable enthusiasm for home cooking demonstrates she has not lost touch with the little plot of land or modest kitchen that sprouted her career – and other elements offer evidence of her vibrant connection to the local community.
The byline is deservedly split between Earthbound stalwarts and contributing recipe chiefs Pamela McKinstry, Ronni Sweet and Earthbound Farm Executive Chef Sarah LaCasse. Local chefs like Cal Stamenov (Bernardus), Craig Von Foerster (Sierra Mar) and Jon Magnusson (Bistro 211) contribute some of the book’s biggest hits. The acknowledgements are a who’s who of conscious food, with nods to folks like the waste district’s Kimberle Herring and Jeff Lindenthal and the Aquarium’s Sheila Bowman.
And the original plot of roadside-stand land will welcome the wider community for a free cookbook release party this weekend, featuring cooking demos by Goodman and LaCasse, recipe tastings and book signings, plus an “eco village,” where Monterey Bay Aquarium and Sierra Club staff share tips for shopping, cooking and living sustainably, no WonderBread or American cheese necessary.
EARTHBOUND COOK BOOK RELEASE PARTY happens 11am-4pm Saturday, Aug. 28, at Earthbound Farm’s Farm Stand, 7250 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. Free. 625-6219 x11 or www.ebfarm.com/ourfarmstand
HERB-CRUSTED HALIBUT WITH TOMATO-CAPER SAUCE
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
6 fresh tarragon sprigs
3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons capers, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless Pacific halibut fillets (about 6 ounces each)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons canola oil
1. Place the bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon of the minced tarragon, and the parsley in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
2. Combine the wine, shallots, and tarragon sprigs in a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, at a slow simmer until the liquid has reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 20 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook over medium heat until the sauce has reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes.
3. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the solids and return the sauce to a clean pan. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons minced tarragon, the tomatoes, and the capers. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm while you cook the halibut.
4. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F.
5. Sprinkle both sides of the halibut fillets with the lemon juice and season them with salt and pepper. Spread the bread crumb mixture on a plate and dip one side (only) of each fillet into the crumbs, pressing lightly so they adhere.
6. Heat the canola oil in a large ovenproof skillet (preferably castiron) over medium-high heat. Arrange the fish fillets, crumbed side down, in the skillet, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook the fillets until the crumbs are golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Carefully turn the fillets over and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the fillets are just opaque and can be flaked with a fork, 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
8. Serve the fillets warm, drizzled with the sauce.
EARTHBOUND FARM HEALTH SALAD
Serves 4 as an entré or 8 as a side salad
Serves 4 as an entré or 8 as a side salad
8 cups chopped or torn romaine lettuce, other sturdy lettuce, or spinach, any heavy stems removed, leaves rinsed and dried if not prewashed
1 small jicama (8 to 10 ounces), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained if canned
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into julienne (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 medium red tomato, cut into bite-size wedges
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup sunflower or other sprouts
1/4 cup tamari-roasted sunflower seeds or salted raw or toasted sunflower seeds
1. Divide the lettuce among the serving plates or place it on a large platter. Arrange the jicama, chickpeas, carrots, cucumber, tomato, radishes, and avocado in separate mounds or rows on top of the lettuce, balancing the colors to make an attractive presentation.
2. Sprinkle the salads with the sprouts and the sunflower seeds, and serve with the Tofu-Dill Dressing (See below) or your own choice of dressing on the side.
Makes 2 cups
Makes 2 cups
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup fresh dill sprigs, thick stems removed
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
8 ounces (about 1 cup) silken or soft tofu, cut in pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1. Place the garlic, dill, lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard in a blender and process until the garlic and dill are finely chopped. Add 1/4 cup water and the tofu, and run the machine until the dressing is very smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula.
2. Season the dressing with salt, and transfer it to a bowl or pitcher for serving. (The dressing can be refrigerated in a tightly covered glass jar for up to 1 week. Shake vigorously before using.)