Read an Excerpt
How to Read This Book
One of the biggest challenges I faced when writing this book was explaining in words the precise details of how to make something, when in fact I don’t typically think about cooking in such a way. I wish you could just come over and I would show you! Words can often make easy tasks seem more difficult than they really are, and this book is far from advanced. Read through the recipe first, then go for it, referring to the recipe as necessary.
As I suggested above, you should trust your own intuition. I rarely offer measurements for salt and pepper because I feel everyone has their own preferences. I prefer less salt and tons of pepper, while Hugh likes the opposite, so I found it best to allow people to make that call on their own in most cases. You must taste as you go to figure this out. I would suggest finding a salt that you like and using it consistently. Different types of salt contain different minerals and have a different salinity, so a pinch of one is not always equal to a pinch of another. There are books dedicated to the art of using different salts, and this is not it. I use a fine-grain sea salt or pink salt in everyday cooking, and Maldon sea salt flakes for finishing dishes or sprinkling on top of some sweets.
Do you have the space (and the proper climate) to grow a lemon tree? You should plant one if you do. Fresh citrus juice adds a brightness to food that is unmatched by any vinegar. I consistently use Meyer lemons, which are sweeter and less acidic than standard lemons, because I have access to a tree. You can find Meyer lemons in markets in the winter and spring, but if you have your own tree you’ll have access to them for longer, plus you’ll save money in the long run. Am I starting off my book by suggesting you plant a tree? Why yes, yes I am. And an herb garden while you’re at it. You’ll thank me later.
We get the majority of our produce from a CSA program, which is basically a subscription to a farm. For our weekly payment we get a box of whatever happens to be in season. Because the box is limited to what is bountiful at that farm at that time, and often there are weeks when we get a lot of Swiss chard, I fill in the gaps at a farmers’ market or a grocery store that has a lot of organic options and a high turnover rate. This also gives me the chance to stock up on grains and flours from bulk bins, which tend to be more affordable than packaged goods. Your produce doesn’t have to be expensive, but you can usually tell by looking at it if it is “happy.” Is it firm, bright, and fragrant? Then it’s probably happy.
Where my food comes from and how it is grown is important to me. Even if you do not care about the politics of sustainable agriculture, the flavor of your food will be indescribably better when you cook food that is fresh and in season. Research what foods are in season in your area, and discover which markets sell them, and you will be certain to make good food because you started with good food.
There are a few terms in this book that are vague for good reason, but I respect that there are some cooks who like specifics. Here’s what I mean when you see the following:
Handful = short of 1/4 cup
Pinch = a bit less than 1/2 teaspoon
Heaping = a bit more than the measurement
Scant = just short of the measurement
This should be fun. Trust yourself. Find good company. Meyer lemons. Lots of herbs. Salt + pepper. Be well.
Turbinado sugar, for the rim
4 segments pink grapefruit, membrane removed (see page 54)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) agave nectar, as needed
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) triple sec
1/4 cup (2 ounces) reposado tequila
Splash of coconut water
Pour a thin layer of the sugar onto a small plate. Rub a wedge of grapefruit around the rim of an old-fashioned-size glass, and roll the rim in the plate of sugar to coat. Set aside.
Put the grapefruit segments at the bottom of the prepared glass and fill it with ice. Add the grapefruit juice, agave nectar, triple sec, and tequila and give it a quick stir. Top the drink off with a generous splash of coconut water. Serve immediately.
You’ll have to use your discretion when making this recipe. I have tasted a few grapefruits whose juice is plenty sweet for this drink, but if yours is more tart, you’ll want to include the agave nectar. Squeezing citrus juice is pretty straightforward, but if you prefer, you can find fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice at well-stocked markets.
Coconut water, trendy beverage it is, doesn’t taste particularly like coconut nor is it very sweet, but it adds a nice subtle twist to the margarita. Here I give the measurements for making one margarita, but you can multiply the quantities as needed and mix everything in a pitcher.