The Broad Fork, written by Hugh Acheson, offers 200 recipes for seasonal fruits and vegetables the reader may be exposed to through CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes and local farmers, but not necessarily know how to prepare. His goal was to create recipes that generally take a short amount of time, but are still delicious to get people excited about cooking and eating vegetables again. Following the review, I will be sharing his recipe for Crisp Toasted Bagel with Fromage Blanc, Tomato, Sea Salt, and Basil.
A variety of produce makes an appearance, from the more common tomatoes and carrots to lesser known salsify and fiddlehead ferns. In fact, the first thing you see when you open the cover is the quote “What the hell do I do with Kohlrahi.” Acheson was asked this by his neighbor and it became the inspiration for the cookbook. Just a few weeks ago, Lauren and I said almost the exact same thing to each other while visiting a nearby Farmer’s Market. The only answer I had at the time was to cut it into fries and roast until tender. While living in Florida, I was a part of a CSA membership and this book would have saved me a lot of searching online. I haven’t signed up for one since moving to Northern Virginia as I have found an abundance of Farmer’s Markets and organic stores in the area, but this book is still quite helpful in broadening my horizons and the way I handle these fruits and vegetables.
Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Southern-style chef Hugh Acheson was born in Canada and is now based in Athens, Georgia with his family. In addition to his cookbooks (A New Turn in the South, Pick a Pickle) and four Georgia restaurants, he is also a two-time James Beard award winner and a judge on Top Chef.
The recipes are divided based on season, then by the specific produce: Fall (Apples, Celery and Celery Root, Chanterelles and Fall Mushrooms, Eggplant, Figs, Kohlrabi, Lettuces, Pecans, Persimmons, Sunchokes, Sweet Potatoes, Visalia and Other Fall Onions), Winter (Bok Choy, Tatsoi, Chard and Other Tasty Winter Greens, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Collard and Mustard Greens, Endives, Chicories and Radicchios, Kale, Parsnips, Salsify, Shiitakes or Other Winter Mushrooms, Turnips, Winter Squash), Spring (Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Avocados, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, English Peas and Favas, Fennel, Green Garlic, Morels, Potatoes, Radishes, Ramps and Spring Onions, Other Oddities: Yacon, Bamboo, and Fiddleheads), and Summer (Basil, Beans, Summer Berries, Cherries and Wild Grapes, Corn, Cucumbers, Field Peas, Leeks, Melons, Okra, Peaches, Peppers, Summer Squash, Tomatoes).
Most of the recipes are easy for the average cook to prepare, but there are also a handful of more ambitious dishes tossed in for a fun weekend project or dinner party. Everything I made took less than 30 minutes (hands-on time), but they sounded (and tasted) like it was much more difficult. When trying the recipes, I stuck to summer and a couple in spring, but there is plenty more to look forward to in fall and winter. Acheson has found a way to highlight the flavors of the vegetables in a simple way while creating restaurant quality results. All the recipes I prepared were also well-written with no discrepancies. You will even find some new and interesting cooking methods (at least to me) such as cured egg yolks and blackberry vinegar.
Headnotes begin each recipe with anecdotes and information on how to best enjoy the dish. Cooking tips and various notes are also scattered throughout the book. Beautiful photographs, taken by Rinne Allen, are provided for most of the recipes. They are generally of the finished dish and specific ingredients.
The ingredients required are usually available to those with larger supermarkets and farmer’s markets nearby. There is the occasionally item that may be more difficult to find such as the less common vegetables, kombu, ascorbic acid, Madeira, and black rice.
While this a book that focuses on fruits and vegetables, it is not purely vegetarian or vegan. A few recipes include dairy, meat, and seafood, but they are definitely not the star here. While absolutely delicious, there is also only one beverage recipe. This isn’t the best choice for someone looking to incorporate fruits and vegetables into various drinks and smoothies.
Crisp Toasted Bagel with Fromage Blanc, Tomato, Sea Salt, and Basil
I have a small 8×4′ garden in the backyard with tomatoes, a variety of herbs, peppers, and cucumbers. I love that I was able to use ingredients from my own backyard to make the recipes for this review. I started with Crisp Toasted Bagels with Fromage Blanc, Tomato, Sea Salt, and Basil.
It was incredibly easy to prepare. I managed to arrange the bagels, photograph, and eat within 30 minutes This doesn’t happen often since I tend to lean towards complicated dishes more than I should, but it was very much appreciated. In addition to sweet basil, I tossed in a few leaves from my purple ruffles basil plant for a little extra color. This has been added to the list of my favorite summer light meals/snacks.
I also made Carrot Soup with Brown Butter, Pecans, and Yogurt; Honeydew Agua Fresca; Roasted Poblano and Pecan Guacamole; and Cucumber Sunomono.
My carrot soup was slightly less carroty due to the disappearance of a carrot or two from my refrigerator. I had already started preparation when I figured this out, so I was a couple of ounces short of the pound suggested. It was still delicious and my normal soup-hating husband didn’t have a drop left in his bowl. I particularly enjoyed the pecan brown butter drizzle. It gave the soup an extra touch that lifted it to the next level.
I made the only beverage recipe, Honeydew Agua Fresca, while my parents and in-laws were over for dinner. I don’t make drinks often (generally because it gets forgotten in menu planning), but this may be one of the biggest hits I have had. Everyone had a glass (or more), even Chad who doesn’t normally care for melons. He usually says they are too plain and watery. The addition of lime juice helped spruce it up for him.
This was my first time making guacamole. It was so easy and delicious, plus the cost was less than I would spend on a container at the store. I loved the addition of roasted poblano and pecans. The poblano added a little warmth without being too spicy.
I am growing cucumbers in the backyard for the first time this year. I bought a couple of plants from the farmers market on a whim and soon realized I knew absolutely nothing about cucumbers. First, they grow huge. One plant would have been plenty for our family. Before I knew it, the vines were attaching themselves to the hanging baskets above my garden and any nearby plants that dared grow too closely to it. Second, I had never seen a cucumber outside of the markets. I had no idea they are covered with little spines that need to be washed off. This caught me off guard way more than it should. Acheson notes that good cucumbers are easy to find in markets during the summer, because they grow like mad. He is most definitely right. We were gone for a week on vacation and I came back to 13 cucumbers ready to be picked (and a couple slightly over-ready). I gave away a few to family and neighbors since there are plenty more growing, but left myself a couple to make Cucumber Sunomono. I have made Sunomono quite a few times. In fact, it is one of my very first blog posts. I enjoyed the addition of dashi (a light bonito seaweed seasoned broth) in his recipe. It was a perfect side dish for a hot summer day and would be the perfect accompaniment to an Asian-style seafood dish.
Crisp Toasted Bagels with Fromage Blanc, Tomato, Sea Salt, and Basil Recipe
Adapted from The Broad Fork
Crisp Toasted Bagels with Fromage Blanc, Tomato, Sea Salt, and Basil
- 2 bagels
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup fromage blanc room temperature
- 1 large or 2 medium ripe heirloom tomatoes cut into 8 slices
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 small basil leaves
- Olive oil for drizzling
Slice each bagel in half and arrange cut side up on baking sheet. Toast under the broiler in the oven or in a toaster until golden.
Immediately spread butter on each cut half, then cover with fromage blanc. Arrange two tomato slices on top, then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Top with basil leaves, drizzle with olive oil, and serve immediately.