- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Chronicle Books (1 May 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1452169322
- ISBN-13: 978-1452169323
- Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 4.3 x 24.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.4 Kg
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Ruffage: Recipes and Stories Inspired by My Appalachian Home Hardcover – 23 Apr 2019
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"Things in my kitchen have changed since Ruffage arrived. This organized, easygoing guide to 29 vegetables offers a few cooking methods for each one, supplemented by several variations. --Kim Severson, The New York Times (named one of the 12 Best Cookbooks of Spring 2019)
"[Ruffage] is a total classic in the making."--Christina Chaey, associate editor, Bon Appetit
"This book acts as a veritable encyclopedia of vegetables, with over 100 recipes and 200-plus variations featuring 29 different types of produce."--MindBodyGreen (named one of the 10 Best Healthy Cookbooks to Buy This Spring
"Vegetables do not need to be boring and can make delicious nibbles when dining outside. You will learn simple new cooking methods such as how to caramelise, with dishes including asparagus, courgette, cabbage and cucumber."--The Sun (UK)
"With a farmer's wisdom and chef's creativity, Abra Berens will change the way you look at everyday vegetables."--Epoch Times
About the Author
From the Publisher
A Practical Guide to Vegetables
Ruffage focuses on the simple techniques that help any cook prepare a variety of delicious vegetables in a number of ways. This vegetable focused cookbook tackles the question home cooks ask themselves about vegetables: How do I cook this? How do I make this exciting? Do I store this in the fridge? How do I make this into dinner?
Ruffage offers new strategies and practical advice from Abra Berens, an exciting new chef and farmer in the Midwest, and features 100 straightforward recipes, each with 3 or more variations, organized alphabetically by vegetable.
Asparagus: Pan Roasted
Asparagus Stalks with Anchovy-Caper Butter and Fresh Herbs
My mother was a wonderful cook, mastering everything from spit-roasted woodcock to the perfect cream sauce. But she cooked asparagus all to hell. The asparagus of my childhood was microwaved until it turned the color of 1970s bathroom tiles—and was simultaneously limp and stringy—naturally I looked askance at any mention of asparagus on a menu. The first bright green, just-cooked, and still-crisp stalks, rolled in butter and salt, stole my heart; I’ve never been the same since.
The key to a good pan roast is to give it the time and space to cook. Overcrowding the pan will steam the vegetable or at least make it cook unevenly. Caramelization won’t happen if you insist on stirring every 5 seconds. Trust yourself and your pan. Allow it to brown a bit, then give it one good turn to sear the other side. Transfer to a plate, garnish, and eat.
Heat oil in a skillet over high heat until just about smoking. Add the asparagus so that they all lie in a single layer. Allow the asparagus to get a good sear on one side. Roll the spears over and brown the other side. Turn off the heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Roll the stalks in the butter until coated.
Serve sprinkled with crunchy salt and chopped herbs.
- Neutral oil
- 2 bunches asparagus (2 lb | 910 g) (any thickness)
- 3 Tbsp (45 g) anchovy– caper butter
- Crunchy salt
- 1 cup (10g) mixed tender herbs (parsley, lemon thyme, tarragon, chives, chervil...), roughly chopped
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Maybe my view of this book is affected by my—call it “inclination”—to take a simpler route with my vegetables. (Without consciously thinking about it, I’ve moved in the same direction that Deborah Madison reflects on in her 2017 book “In My Kitchen”.) Except for a few simple and glorious recipes in this book (think braised radishes and braised celery, for examples), the content seems heavy on extra flavors and ingredients. Maybe that’s just the type of recipes you’re looking for? But for me, all that extra stuff listed in her “Variations” masks, rather than highlights the primary vegetable.
Reading the information presented on this product page: I can’t agree with all of it: If you are an avid fan of vegetable cook books, you will be disappointed to find that this IS a “typical” cookbook, that Berens’ collection of techniques are NOT NEW, (especially if you are familiar with Joshua McFadden’s fabulous 2017 “Six Seasons” and Madison’s books, (and plenty others)), this Ruffage book DOES NOT result in “new flavors”. These days, “new flavors” come from knowledge of and versatility in use of spices and herbs. This book relies on well-known herbs available in American gardens. (If you are looking for new flavors, definitely check out “Season” by up-and-coming Nik Sharma (A Brown Table), and maybe the more obscure Josef Centeno of Baco. Those chefs will provide you with real eye-openers that this book by Berens cannot compete with.)
A word about all the variations: Here is the good news: There are a LOT of them. They take about 80+ main recipes and grow the book to the 300 claimed on this product page. They are significant and almost quadruple the value of this book. And the technique of using variations does save a lot of space. But here is the bad news: All these variations are presented/written in such a way that I find them fairly difficult to absorb, and difficult to imagine. And more bad news: There are no pictures of the variations—these variations that represent more than three-quarters of the book’s content.
And more bad news for all you picture-loving cook book readers out there: Relatively speaking, there are not all that many pictures of completed dishes. Sure, you will probably be able to count 140 photos as claimed, but beware that a good amount of those are not of finished dishes. Besides that, the photos are not necessarily full page, and the photography is by no means spectacular.
But, hey. If you are appreciative of line drawings, the many, many in this book are quite nice, exceptional, even.
This book is not without mistakes, contradictions and ambiguity……Take, for example, the lovely and simple braised celery recipe I mentioned above: Good thing I read and re-read the entire recipe a few times. In the first mention of the head of celery, the instruction is to remove the root end. The second mention is to retain the root end. Referring to the picture for guidance, I see each stalk lined up separately. There are enough contradictions in the book that, after a while, I began to take them in stride—but then, I’m a known tinkerer and conjurer with recipes, so this type of issue doesn’t affect me like it would someone who needs to follow a recipe exactly. This example—to leave the root end or not—is not a biggie, but it boils down to a matter of trust. You gotta’ be able to trust the recipes!
Regarding the recipe choices: Here’s a for instance: I had two beautiful bunches of carrots that I wanted to use over the recent Easter weekend. I went to this book looking for a recipe or at least inspiration—and came away empty-handed. The two basic recipes/recipe techniques were not at all what I was looking for. I did not want another oven roasted apricot jam carrot recipe, and I did not want a raw carrot salad with yogurt, raisins and pistachios. (For almost two decades I’ve paired my raw carrots and raisins with a roasted peanut oil and vinegar mix, per the Jamason’s in one of their old cook books.) And, in my opinion there is too much yogurt and goat cheese in this Ruffage book…..
I had beautiful green beans, too. Two recipes producing somewhat blackened string beans, (Pan-roasted-blistered and grilled-charred), did not fit with the rest of my springtime menu, and neither did a dull braised recipe with lentils and onions. I struck out again. So, as I worked with this book, I came to the conclusion that this is not a real useful book for me. And I won’t be making room on my library shelves for it.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Thanks to Ruffage, when I make a trip to the market, I’m confident that the veggies I bring home will not languish in the fridge. Tips on how to store veggies help me prioritize what gets cooked immediately and what can hold out for a few days. All the variations and illustrations make it so easy for me to find a quick, weeknight recipe or a more time-consuming main dish, depending on what I’m in the mood to cook.
I’ve already dog-eared tons of recipes – can’t wait for the right seasons! Cauliflower brown butter puree might be my new secret weapon. That one I’ll be cooking year round.
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