|Countless compilation and collaborative style cookbooks line the shelves at bookstores these days featuring recipes by Top Chefs, Best Bloggers, and Food TV stars. But Harvest to Heat, by authors Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer is different. You will recognize some names and faces, Charlie Trotter, Jody Adams, and Nancy Silverton to name a few, but this book is not about showing you how to produce meals like a James Beard Winner.
Photo ©2010 Ellen Sliverman
Instead, it is about appreciating that farmer next door and the Artisan cheesemakers down the lane. The folks who are stars in their hometowns, not on TV, who do what they do for the love of it and not the promise of fame. The collaborative part of this book is not the all-star list of talented chefs showing their skills, but the relationships these chefs have with their suppliers: the farmers and artisan food makers whose product is a constant source of inspiration in the chef's kitchens.
Read the story of how heirloom tomato farmer Tim Stark went from aspiring novelist to growing tomatoes that are coveted by market goers and four star chefs like Daniel Boulud. For some, the chef-farmer connection has come full circle. Former chef Eberhard Muller fell in love with a local wine distributor, got married, and decided to buy a farm. He now provides produce for the same restaurant where he once worked (Le Bernadin). There are many more stories like that one. The passion these folks have for what they do just leaps off the page and I believe that passion shows in the quality of their products too. After reading this cookbook you'll be inspired to find your own David Cleverdon (Kinnikinnick Farm, Caledonia IL) or Matt Linehan (Sparrow Arc Farm, Kennebunk ME), get into the kitchen and create a seasonal, sustainable, and local culinary masterpiece using recipes like the Heirloom Bean Soup below.
Heirloom Bean Soup with Lobster and Minestrone Vegetables
From Harvest to Heat by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer. Taunton Press 2010.
Jody Adams, Rialto, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Matt Linehan, Sparrow Arc Farm, Kennebunk, Maine (heirloom beans)
Steuben bean, a dried heirloom variety, is known by several names, such as Maine Yellow Eye, Molasses Face, and Butterscotch Calypso. These beans have a beautiful speckled color-brownish-red over white-and hold their shape when cooked. This soup pairs the classic combination of vegetables for minestrone with lobster, another New England favorite, which adds nice texture contrast to the vegetables.
For the soup
- One 1 1/2-pound lobster, steamed
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
- 1 medium leek (white part only), washed, cut into small dice, and washed thoroughly again
- 1 stalk celery, peeled and cut into small dice
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups Steuben beans, soaked overnight, or 2 cups navy or cannellini beans
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/4 pound asparagus, ends snapped, peeled, and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
For the basil pesto
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated Pecorino Romano
- Coarse salt
For the vegetable garnish
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 ounces green beans (about 12 to 15), cut in half
- 1 stalk celery, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 small leek (white part only), cut into 1/4-inch dice and washed thoroughly
- 1 ripe plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, preferably Parma, cut into fine julienne
- 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1. Remove the lobster meat from the shells. Cut the shelled tails in half lengthwise and remove and discard the digestive tract (the dark vein-like structure). Cut the clawmeat into 1-inch pieces. Discard the shell. Cut the lobster tail meat into 1-inch pieces; cover and refrigerate. Remove the top shell and head from the body and discard. Rinse the body and break it into 3 pieces.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.
2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, leeks, celery, diced fennel, and garlic; season with salt and pepper, and cook for
10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
3. Drain the beans, then add them to the pot along with the bay leaves, fennel seeds, and lobster body pieces. Stir well and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 1 to 11/2 hours, or until the beans are very tender. The amount of time this takes will vary based on the age of the beans. The younger they are, the less time they will need to cook.
4. While the beans are cooking, make the pesto. Put the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor, add the oil in a thin steady stream, and process until the basil is finely chopped, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and pine nuts and process for another 20 seconds. The pine nuts should be finely chopped but not a paste. Transfer the pesto to a small serving bowl. Stir in the cheeses. Taste and season with salt as necessary.
5. Drain the beans and vegetables, saving the cooking liquid but discarding the bay leaves and lobster body pieces. Purée the beans in the bowl of a food processor. Return to the pot and add enough bean cooking water to make a thick soup. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Return the soup to low heat to keep warm. Add the asparagus and peas and cook for an additional minute, or until the vegetables are almost tender.
6. To cook the vegetable garnish, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots, green beans, celery, and leeks and cook for 2 minutes. Mix the semi-cooked vegetables, tomatoes, and lobster meat in a medium sauté pan with the olive oil. Heat slowly over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add the prosciutto and parsley.
7. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and put a heaping tablespoonful of the warm vegetable-lobster mixture in the center. Drizzle with basil pesto. Serve immediately, with additional pesto at the table.