Summer is upon us, which means graduations, Fourth of July festivities, and lots of outdoor celebrations. It also means having to come up with different dishes to make and/or bring to these gatherings…so why not make them healthy and tasty?
Farm-To-Table Desserts by Lei Shishak is a fresh take on seasonal, organic recipes that can be sourced at a local grocery store or farmer’s market. There aren’t any crazy ingredients you’ll have to search the town (or world wide web) for. In fact, this whole book really focuses on simplifying the cooking and baking processes involved in making desserts.
I, for one, kind of hate making desserts because they’re usually inordinately complicated and take way too much time that I hardly ever have to dedicate to a sponge cake this or a frosted tort that. This book is nothing like that-even though the recipes don’t have estimated times from prep to completion, all of the 80 or so seasonal recipes are only about a page long in directions, so it’s very easy to eyeball how long a dish could take.
The table of contents is very straight-forward. It has succinct explanations on “why farmer’s markets” and “why organic.” To some, these may seem superfluous, but I really enjoyed the explanations and felt like I understood more about supporting local sourcing and ingesting foods that are cultivated without pesticides. In addition to being a very well-photographed (and super beautiful cookbook), it also focuses on environmental responsibility-like not buying fruits that are out of season (because 1. they’ll be expensive and 2. they’re likely GMO’d if they’re not supposed to be in season when you buy them…and no one wants to eat mutant fruits).
SO, what’s inside. The book is split up by seasons, so you’ve got: Spring (March-June), Summer (June-September), Autumn (September-December), and Winter (December-March). Given we’re currently in Summer, so I tried my hand at a few of the “Summer” desserts, including:
-Summer Squash Cake (p. 51)
-Cantaloupe Soup (p. 84)
-Mango and Passion Fruit with Warm Coconut Pudding (p. 87) (see photo below)
These were hands-down some of the easiest recipes I’ve ever followed. Each dish’s instructions were one page max (I think there’s only one or two recipes in the whole book that are a tad longer), and the best of all, there’s a picture too for EVERY recipe! I know it’s tough for cookbook publishers to feature photos for each and every dish, but as a cooking novice, I like to have a a little visual direction when it comes to how I should plate a dish (or what it should look like after it comes out of the oven).
So if you’re a visual person like me, or just like pretty pictures of food, this is an excellent choice for a dessert cookbook.
Each of the recipes I tried bursted with flavor, the most surprising of which was the squash cake…because let’s be honest, when have vegetables ever been anyone’s go-to for a cake? (Hardly ever, probably never). Well, I definitely judged a recipe before I tried it and this dish was absolutely heavenly. In fact, I ate three generous portions of it without frosting, which is saying a lot because I’m a self-professed sugar fiend.
I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to find new, easy to make dessert recipes. I’d also recommend it as a gift to family and friends…because you never know when you’ll be invited over for dinner and don’t want the only option for dessert to be artifically-flavored, store-bought cupcakes that look the same if they’ve been in the box for a week or ten weeks (you know the ones I’m talking about).
Score Card: Cover Art 5/5 (probably the reason why I picked the book up in the first place and decided to see what was inside) | Content 5/5 (yes, yes, yes) | Ease of Read 5/5