Pros: Great recipes with easy to find seasonal products. Nice photos.
Cons: Small mistake with recipe matching photo.
Enchanting is the word that comes to mind when describing this book, Harvesting Nantucket; The Taste of Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm. The cover is lovely and elegantly simple with only a sliced, perfectly ripened tomato on the cover. It made me wonder what the story of the tomato itself was – how it was grown with care, harvested, and what it could become in the hands of a cook. It was just tempting enough to make me want to see what was hidden in the pages. Settling down to peruse the book, I couldn’t help but flip through it first to immerse myself in the photos. I was quick to realize this is more than just a cookbook. If there is such a thing as, “just a cookbook,” sorry I digress. One is quickly caught up into the life of the Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm. There are lots of pictures, both historical and current showing not only the lovely produce grown on the farm, but a glimpse of the lives that helped to make this cookbook come to life. This is a straightforward, honest work of love and labor. The author, Barbara Gookin keeps it simple but captivating, telling the story of the farm and turning farm-fresh vegetables and other simple ingredients into sumptuous meals.
While reading about the reasons for their Hot House Tomatoes, seven greenhouses to be exact, I glimpse over my book at my own still green tomatoes struggling to ripen with a short growing season, and unconsciously nod my head with understanding. In order to get vine ripened tomatoes you are waiting for late summer in Nantucket. This brings me to my first recipe, the “Jean Zagayko’s Blue Ribbon Tomato Pie.” I have never made tomato pie before, but the sheer simplicity of it made me want to try it. I had 99% of the ingredients already in my garden and pantry. I ran to the store for the large tomatoes, and ham, but was able to cut my own zucchini for the recipe. At the store I was able to find some beautiful hothouse tomatoes and quickly started washing and dicing. The recipe was very easy to prepare. The recipes are written with your personal tastes in mind. So instead of saying 2 cups of tomatoes, it’s 2 large tomatoes. My version of large and my son’s version of large are going to be quite different. Keep this in mind when prepping for this pie. I mixed all my ingredients in a bowl first and then filled the pie shell. I did have quite a bit of filling left over; however I simply put this in a container for an omelet the next day. The pie baked up beautifully. My whole house smelled of warm tomatoes. Even my carnivore husband gave it the thumbs up, and told me it was a keeper. That was quite surprising considering the whole pie only has ¼ cup of ham.
I kept reading. Interspersed between chapters are little tidbits of information about the subject. I read about organic farming and how they grow their baby greens, which is quickly followed by a few recipes using those ingredients. Again and again, I find that the ingredients will be easy to find, which puts me in a very difficult and tempting situation. How do I choose what to make? The Colorful Crudite & Dip Trio was a must, but not really enough of a recipe for me to consider it a thorough testing of the book. So I move on. With my mouth watering, I finally make it through to the Dessert section. I am not disappointed by the lack of recipes, because the ones listed are all ones I would like to try. I have actually found a new family favorite! My son was close by, the same son whose version of a large tomato resembles a large cherry tomato. So instead of reading out “Chocolate Zucchini Cake,” I simply asked how he would like to try a new chocolate cake. I was very happy to have my teen eager to help me consume this cake when it was done. Again the ingredients are easy; the most difficult thing to find would be the almond extract, and even then it is a quick jot to the store. I happily picked another zucchini fresh from the garden. I measure carefully, and get my cake ready to bake. This is more of a snack cake. The consistency is more akin to a brownie. The recipe calls for chopped walnuts to be on top. However, since it uses almond extract, I opted to use almonds on the top. This was an enchanting combination. My son loved it. He had no idea it was loaded with healthy zucchini. Recipe number two is a hit. I am pleased and feeling more confident in the recipes.
I have had the opportunity to make a few more of the recipes simply because the ingredients are readily available. Like all books there will be discrepancies, and I would be remiss not to point those out to you. Unfortunately the “Grilled Salmon with Roasted Beets & Herbed Butter” recipe on page 98 is not represented correctly. While reading it and making this recipe it is glaringly apparent that the photo is not the same as the recipe. In the photo the salmon is rolled. In the recipe it is simply a fillet grilled on both sides. I did take the time to email Bartlett’s and ask them about the recipe. They apologized, and let me know that they didn’t notice until after the book had been published, but that the chef on that day chose to be more creative, and rolled the salmon. I was pleased that they wrote back to me, but wish they had given me more direction on how to create the recipe pictures. Despite the one recipe not panning out, the rest of the book was wonderful. The presentations were very nice and simple. I think this book will appeal to both the beginner cook due to the ease of preparation, availability of ingredients, as well as the fresh and inventive ideas which will appeal to the more accomplished chef. Of course it goes without saying that it will definitely appeal to my foodie friends that look forward to the weekend farmer’s markets.
Instead of the one recipe, I wanted to give you both of them. Enjoy.
Jean Zagayko’s Blue Ribbon Tomato Pie
One pre-made pie crust (uncooked)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar, shredded
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
2 large tomatoes
1 medium onion
1 medium zucchini
¼ lb cooked ham, diced
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise and cheese.
Chop tomatoes and drain. Chop onion and zucchini Layer chopped vegetables and ham on pie crust. Spread cheese mixture on top. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and golden on top.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups unpeeled zucchini, grated
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup walnuts, chopped
Confectioners sugar to dust top
Preheat oven to 325F
Butter and flour 13x9-inch baking pan. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl. In large bowl, beat sugar, butter and oil until well blended Add eggs, beat well. Add vanilla extract and almond extract. Beat. Add about a third of the flour mixture, beat, and add a third of the buttermilk. Repeat both again, and again, until all are incorporated. Mix in zucchini. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool thoroughly in pan. Gently run a knife around edges before removing from pan Dust top with confectioners sugar.
Below is a photo of the cake before topping with sugar.