By the Book: Sustainable Cooking Every Day from River Cottage
In the British television series, River Cottage, sustainable foods advocate Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall lives in a rural cottage and feeds his family and friends from his garden and off the land. Fresh, seasonal and local ingredients are the key to his food philosophy, but don't worry, River Cottage Every Day isn’t for foragers, gardeners and butchers (at least not exclusively). Here he shares recipes and tips for incorporating fresh foods into busy lifestyles, course by course, and meal by meal. These are the practical dishes that Hugh feeds his three kids, takes to work for lunch (there’s a whole chapter on lunch boxes) and whips up for weeknight dinners and Sunday suppers. From quick to slow-cooking and healthful to decadent, each chapter has it all – there’s a recipe to match your day.
When flipping through I spotted this whimsical Bloody Mary Burger tucked into the “Thrifty Meat” section (between the offal and the roasts) and I couldn’t wait to fire up my grill pan and give it a try. Hugh mixes all the well-loved flavor components of my favorite brunch cocktail into ground sirloin (yes, I asked the grocery store butcher to grind some sirloin for me, and he did) – Tabasco, Worcestershire, horseradish, celery seed – formed into patties and grilled up. But the real genius is the sauce – a sinus-tickling homemade horseradish sauce combining freshly grated horseradish (use leftover horeradish to make real Bloody Marys), crème fraiche and cider vinegar.
But my favorite part of the book is Weekday Lunch (Box) chapter. I was almost giddy with eagerness halfway through, fantasizing about taking pasties, chicken with couscous or frittatas to work for lunch. I’ve never considered frittatas a take-along lunch food, but they actually pack away well and are tasty even at room temperature (although you should refrigerate them during the day). And I've made lots of frittatas, mostly thrown together with wilting veggies in my fridge, but this Spinach, Bacon and Goat Cheese Frittata was by far the most beautiful frittata I’ve ever made.
And the veggies! There are enough vegetable and fruit recipes in this book to span all seasons and palates, and could even inspire more frequent trips to the farmers' market. I made these beautiful, lemony potatoes with my springtime market finds. They're easy, simple and pair perfectly with almost any meal, from roasts to barbecues.
This book's overarching theme of fresh, local seasonal foods everyday for everyone comes naturally, with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's charming voice leading the way. Whether you incorporate a few of his recipes into your repertoire or cook from it every day, it will go a long way towards keeping you on a good food track.