Saturday, April 23, 2011

P. Allen Smith's Seasonal Recipes From the Garden

I usually do my book reviews on my other site, Gardening by the Book, because as Book Review Editor at Horticulture magazine, I receive a lot of books to review. But because of the super exciting event that's coming up next week, this one is appearing here.

P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm

Next week, along with about 20 other garden writers, I'll be spending a couple of days at P. Allen Smith's Garden Home Retreat in Little Rock, Arkansas for the first Garden2Blog event. I can't tell you how honored and surprised I was to be invited and already have butterflies just thinking about what fun we're going to have. More on that later. You can be sure that I'll be snapping a lot of photos to share!

But back to the book...

Allen recently wrote another book, P. Allen Smith's Seasonal Recipes from the Garden (Clarkson Potter, December 2010, $32.50). Now I will freely admit that I love cookbooks. I also love kitchen gadgets. Pots and pans excite me. Specialty serving dishes catch my eye. But there's one problem. I don't like to cook. I never have.  Oh, I can cook and when I do it, people say it's really good and I have a few specialties. But I've always marveled that just when I cook a meal one day, don't you know, we have to eat the next day, and the one after that!

So while I was excited to receive my autographed copy of Allen's new cookbook, and sat right down to browse through it, salivating as I read the recipes, my usual thoughts went through my head. Cooking. Unless I was planning on becoming Allen's neighbor and hoping to be invited for dinner now and then, I was going to have to make these delicious-looking dishes myself.

Image copyrighted by Ben Fink

But you know what? The closer I looked at the recipes, the more I was inspired to actually try them. Not only do they have instructions that are simple to follow, but they use ingredients that are easy to find, with many of them grown right here in the garden at Our Little Acre. Now really, what's better than taking your grocery list to the garden to get what you need for your next meal?

There are over 120 recipes, some from Allen's family, some from friends, and some from chefs of restaurants where he first enjoyed them. Grouped by season, the recipes make use of the garden's coffers at the time the ingredients are ripening.

One of the best things about the recipes in this cookbook are that they are down-home cooking, yet suitable for fine dinners. Many of them are easily adapted to your own tastes, too. The Chilled Pea Soup with Bacon and Whipped Cream could just as easily be served warm.

Chilled Pea Soup with Bacon and Whipped Cream
Image copyrighted by Ben Fink

There's something else that this book has inspired me to do, and that's to try things that I haven't particularly liked to eat in the past. I don't share Allen's love of radishes, but the Radish Top Pasta recipe looks delicious! And this year I'm growing Round Black Spanish Radishes with seeds from Botanical Interests, so maybe I'll decide I like radishes after all.

The recipe I'm most excited to try is the Buttermilk Pecan Pie. I once had the most amazing pecan pie I've ever eaten in my life in a little tea house in Godfrey, Illinois, and they wouldn't share the recipe. I've been on a quest to find a recipe that duplicates that one and this could just be it.

Each recipe is accompanied by tips, trivia and anecdotes and the book wraps it up by giving concise helpful information about what to grow and how to grow it.

First of all, thank you, Allen, for sending the book to me, and secondly, thank you for writing a cookbook that inspires me the way this one does. My starving husband thanks you, too.

P. Allen Smith is a popular television personality and a bestselling author as well as one of America’s best-known garden designers and lifestyle contributors. Host of the weekly public television show P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, the syndicated television program P. Allen Smith Gardens, and gardening reports on The Weather Channel, he also makes regular appearances on The Today Show.  He recently launched a new public television series, P. Allen Smith's Garden to Table, which is based on the book in this review.

P. Allen Smith's Recipes From the Garden was provided to me by P. Allen Smith with no obligation or suggestion to review or recommend. The thoughts expressed here are my own.  Unless stated otherwise, photos are copyrighted by Hortus, Ltd.  Book cover copyrighted by Ben Fink.


Joseph said...

I didn't think I liked radishes either until I tried roasting them! I quarter them, toss them in oil, a little salt, and spread them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 450 degrees. Given them 15-20 minutes, and they become absolutely GLORIOUS. The harshness cooks out and they become sweet, mellow, and marvelous.

Greenlife Nursery, Inc. said...

The food I did'nt like was radishes. But, since having them roasted, wow! Yum,yum.

Theresa (Teri) DellaRosa said...

I hate radishes, but somehow always end up with a packet of them every year, maybe I'll give them a shot this year.

Weekend Cowgirl said...

Have a fun time at your garden blog event!!!

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