The Modern Cook's Year: More than 250 Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes to See You Through the Seasons
“Although vegetables are the centerpiece in The Modern Cook’s Year, author Anna Jones has gathered an encyclopedia of information and recipes on all kinds of fruits, grains, and legumes.”
There is a certain comfort and timelessness in cooking through the seasons. English cookbook author Anna Jones’ The Modern Cook’s Year serves as the ultimate and hefty guide for those who want to attempt seasonal cooking. The acclaimed author has gathered more than 250 recipes in this beautiful tome that is well-researched and draws upon many cuisines.
Jones, who lives in London, writes that “there is something so joyful about eating food at its very best . . . more than that it’s about a time, a place, and the memories of summers, Christmases, and days past that are wrapped up in every bite of food we eat.”
While Jones encourages everyone to eat seasonally, what she calls a season may surprise you. “For me, a year divided into four seasons feels too vague.”
Instead she suggests cooks trust their eyes and let their taste buds be the guide. “This book is written in six chapters, which roughly knit together two months at a time, but let your senses, and the fruits and vegetables you find at your market lead you.”
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain milestones and things to do at different times of the year. A hearty soup will warm up the coldest day while a hot summer day calls for a light, fresh salad plate.
Jones is not a fussy chef so her recipes are perfect for the busy home cook. Many of her recipes are simple, straightforward, and call for just a few ingredients like the unusual Bright Pink Pasta featuring beets, whole wheat pasta, a few capers and fresh herbs. Looking for a challenge? Check out the Mini Squash and Chive Dumplings or Smoky Mushroom and Roasted Kale Lasagna.
The book is divided into six chapters and each section has recipes that feature the fruits and vegetables in season. For example: the “Start of the Year” section lists a variety of winter produce like kale, savoy cabbage and brussels sprouts and flowers like mimosa, hellebores, magnolia and anemone.
Section “Herald of Spring” features the best of the season vegetables in mouth-watering recipes such as Easter Egg and Spring Veg Tart or Grilled Kale with Honeyed Tofu and Shallots.
In the “First Warm Days” chapter artichokes, asparagus, first strawberries, and new potatoes are featured in recipes.
When the days are long and produce is plentiful, find appropriate recipes in the “Summer” section. Recipes showcase the produce of the season in recipes like Summer Taco Salad or the tantalizing Corn, Tomatoes, and Crispy Bread.
With the advent of autumn, the recipes are warm and comforting like the Vanilla and Blackberry Drop Scones or Chard, Lentil, and Bay Leaf Gratin.
Winter is the time for Miso roasted squash and potatoes with almonds and kale and Salted Chocolate Truffles. It’s also the time to sip on Vanilla and Lime Mulled Wine and Bergamot Gin.
But the book is more than just a selection of recipes. In between each section, like buried treasure, you will find nuggets of lyrical prose that is enticing and enlightening. Jones would like everyone to start cooking with grace and to do that she suggests “follow the process with all your senses, smell the changes as ingredients are added, feel how a mixture firms up as you stir it, notice the change in color as you fry or blanch.”
This is a book that is easy to use. Bright yellow pages denote detailed information: How to make fritters (includes a flavor map), how to make a hearty salad, and how to make homemade curry pastes, to name a few.
Whether a home cook wants to learn how to brew kombucha or set the perfect holiday table, this hefty book has it all. But have your reading glasses handy, the font is tiny and can be a little hard on the eye.
The addition of bright, colorful photographs brings the recipes to life. Photographer Ana Cuba has an elegant eye and some of her photographs are deceptively simple (a single green/yellow pomelo or a few zucchini artfully arranged with orange blossoms).
Jones is an artist in the kitchen, a place where she finds solace. “I think that everyday cooking can be as much an act of meditation, escape, and dare I say it, mindfulness.”
Although vegetables are the centerpiece in The Modern Cook’s Year, Jones has gathered an encyclopedia of information and recipes on all kinds of fruits, grains, and legumes. All this information would be overwhelming, but Jones has a knack for presenting it all in easy to digest portions.
A home cook will want to escape into the vibrant and delectable world of The Modern Cook’s Year and perhaps never come back.