When we went to Memphis in June, John's mom gave me a cookbook she'd recently bought. It's by Daniel Orr, the chef who owns FARM, a very popular, upscale restaurant in Bloomington that focuses on local ingredients. Though FARM is highly regarded, I somehow have yet to make it there. So I was excited when Julie offered the cookbook to me and John to take home.
So far we've made a few of the recipes, and I thought I would share some thoughts here.
Let's start with the bad:
- The layout is strange. For instance: we wanted to make a veggie pizza. The recipe for the dough was on the same page as the toppings, so that works well. But the suggested sauce is a hummus recipe from the "Snacks" section - flip back about 10 pages. To make the hummus, you need a spice blend from the "Spice Blend" section - flip back another 20 or so pages. That much flipping to make a pizza is a little annoying, but I get it - he just wanted to print each recipe once. And he's adamant that you can sub anything you like for the recipes.
I'll also say that this book is not for beginners. The ingredients can get slightly difficult to find (unless you have Bulk Barn, of course), and they can also be a bit complicated. While we loved the pizza we made, it took a LONG TIME to make, in order to let the dough rise, to make the hummus, to let the dough rise again, to grill the veggies, etc. It's kind involved for pizza. But it was damn tasty.
Speaking of exotic ingredients: one other complaint, and then I'll stop being a Negative Nancy: the chef suggests subbing anything you'd like for any of the recipes, and I believe in the intro he stresses that these recipes should be accessible. Ok, so far so good. But the very first recipe in the book is for Cattail Pollen Muffins. Oh yes, just stroll down to the local pond and pull the pollen out of some cattails!
It doesn't exactly sound hard, but it's a little specific. And what do you sub for cattail pollen? Honey? Nothing? I have no idea. In fairness, if you do live within reach of pond (and I'd venture that almost everyone in Bloomington does), then this would very simple to make. But I found it a bit off-putting.
Generally, I feel like it's an amazing book. The photos are beautiful, it's well written, and there are tons of options for veg people and omnivores alike. We've made some fabulous food with this book, and I'm looking forward to trying more of the recipes.
Let's look at some examples.
Here's the hummas recipe we used for the pizza.
This hummus has a TON of ingredients before you even make the spice blend, but we suffered through. It was fun to make hummus with white beans, instead of chick peas, and it's extremely flavorful. Making the spice blend took some time, and truly, we didn't do it right because we don't have a spice grinder (or coffee grinder that's designated for spices). John and I agree that it's not our favorite hummus to eat by itself, like we normally eat it. But it's a good base for the pizza. It also made me want to try making a simpler hummus with white beans, garlic, and rosemary.
Here's the pizza itself: hummas, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini and red peppers, tomato, and kalamata olives.
The dough recipe was excellent and made enough for two nights of this fabulous pizza. It would go perfectly with a spicy red wine, like a Shiraz. I'd say the crust was the tastiest part, and that's how I like my pizza to be. You can get away with a lot if you have a good crust.
Next, we made a much simpler recipe: the BLT. For this, we used tempeh bacon, nicknamed faux-bacon, "facon," "fakin,' etc. We bought special heirloom tomatoes for this sandwich, since tomatoes are sort of the main event, and then took a bunch of pictures of them, because we're weird.
I love heirloom tomatoes. They're so funky looking, and so flavorful.
Here's the sandwich in its finished form:
grainy bread, tomato, avocado, herbed mayo (we chopped some basil and garlic for the mayo), tempeh bacon (amazing!), basil leaves, lettuce, and goat cheese. This is a life changing sandwich.
Seriously, I would eat this all the time if possible. Tempeh bacon is one of the better faux-meats I've had, and I can't wait to make this again. Heaven!
All in all, we like the FARMFood book, and we'll keep using it. I'm interested in trying some of the brunch recipes, since FARM is known for an outstanding brunch.