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From the Cook's Garden    by Ellen Ecker Ogden order for
From the Cook's Garden
by Ellen Ecker Ogden
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2003 (2003)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The subtitle 'Recipes for cooks who like to garden, gardeners who like to cook, and everyone who wishes they had a garden' graces the cover of a delightful new cookbook, From the Cook's Garden. The Cook's Garden Catalog has served customers since 1984, bringing them the latest seeds from around the world. There is a very satisfying feeling about growing your own food. But after harvesting, what do you do with a bountiful crop? This cookbook is chock of wonderful recipes (and equally wonderful illustrations) to finish the task of 'from seeds to table.' Ellen Ogden created many of these recipes to help sell the seeds featured in the Catalog. Since she specialized in the unusual, suggestions for cooking were needed to introduce new varieties of vegetables. The recipes take into account vegetables that would crop at the same time.

Now, let's talk food. Soups, first. Personally I could sip a cup of the Puree of Vegetable Soup right now. Although Herbed Gazpacho with Garlic Croutons would suit too. And a Curried Soup is a good way to use up your bumper crop of summer squash. The Salads and Dressings section starts with a basic vinaigrette. Salads are my staple, so I dived into this part. Too many to list, but take my word for it, you'll want to try them all. Rainbow Tomatoes with Fresh Basil stands out, as does Grilled Radicchio and Gorgonzola Salad. A glossary of favorite salad greens is a big help. Lunches & Light Meals starts with a discussion of edible flowers to dress up most dishes. Can you imagine serving Carrot Quiche made with your very own carrots? Satisfying? You bet. Same with Carmelized Onion Tart. I can almost taste the sweetness of the onions. Pardon me while I drool ... Asparagus with Lemon Chive Sauce, Roasted Caponata, Curried Vegetable Streudel. All wonderful recipes, including the Baba Ganoush.

Let's move on to Main Courses. As in the previous section, imaginative recipes make use of the produce of your own garden: Asparagus Crepes with Mushroom & Ramp Sauce, Spring Green Pie, Spinach Enchiladas with Three Peppers, Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Olives and Garlic, Salmon with Sorrel Sauce. You're only limited by the varieties in your garden. A handy tutorial on the Cook's Garden favorite sauce is included. Side Dishes next: Roasted Asparagus with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Wow!) and Baby Carrots with Tarragon. Radish with Arugula Saut9 uses Easter Egg Radishes which is saut9ed with the arugula. Have to try this. Pattypan squash has always a been favorite of mine. But filled with Ricotta Stuffing? Bring it on. Fried Green Tomatoes in Cornmeal-Thyme Crust precedes The Dirt on Potatoes and tips for that great comfort food - mashed Potatoes! There are many more recipes for lovely potato dishes and tips for pesto.

Next come Breads, Pizzas and Muffins. I adore breads and bread by products. In my day, I baked a great deal of bread and pastries. Here is a vast new array of enticing recipes -Summer Berry Muffins, Zucchini-Blueberry Bread, Rosemary Focaccia with Onion, Walnut Confit, or Tomato Oregano Bread. Then, we come happily to desserts: Berry Bread Pudding (Nirvana!), Indian Pudding with Ginger Whipped Cream, Peaches and Lemon Verbena in Meringue Cups. I'm sure I gained weight just reading this section. Want it all! The cookbook finishes with a section on Preserves - how to store your garden's bounty. Carrot and Orange Marmalade touched a soft spot in me - always loved Orange Marmalade when I was a child. Had it every Sunday breakfast along with salt mackerel, shirred eggs and Toast. But to dress the marmalade with carrot! I kiss my fingertips.

From first page to last, From the Cook's Garden is a treasure trove, a must in every cookbook collection.

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