26 January 2013

Weekend Cooking: A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield

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April Bloomfield must be one of the hardest working chefs in New York. She co-owns three restaurants and holds the food she serves to the highest of standards. Celebrity chefs, food writers, and those in the know frequent her establishments to partake of her simple dishes with startlingly full flavors.

In her cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, Bloomfield explains her approach to cooking, shares her stories, and gives us her recipes. Unlike many restaurant chefs, she is well aware that the home cook is not professionally trained and doesn't have a team of kitchen helpers. Thus one her goals is to provide us with knowledge and tips so we can elevate our own dishes from good to wow.
Finding balance is about understanding a dish's harmonious potential, the place where all the flavors achieve a sort of equilibrium. Each bite should make you want to take another. (p. 6)
She emphasizes bright flavors and particular ways to cut vegetables so our food has interest both to the palate and to our eyes. She isn't fussy about fancy presentations and dainty portions, but she is quick to point out that a good-looking plate helps boost the appetite and the enjoyment of the meal.

Some of her recipes may seem long, such as her beef pie, but Bloomfield breaks them down into doable steps and offers plenty of personal notes ("I like to . . "). Other recipes, her grilled sea bass, for example, call for four ingredients and the simplest of directions. Although a few of the main ingredients may be difficult to find or too expensive for everyday eating (quails' eggs, squid), the bulk of the recipes are accessible to the average home cook (featuring familiar meats and vegetables).

Despite the title and the cover photo, A Girl and Her Pig is not solely a meat cookbook. Her vegetable and salad dishes are among my favorites, and I love the nibbles recipes. She also includes a drinks chapter (her version of a Bloody Mary is fantastic) and desserts (that dark chocolate orange cake has my name on it).

As much a book about food and cooking as it is a cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig belongs on the bookshelf next to M. F. K. Fisher, Elizabeth David, and Edna Lewis. The writing is personal and confident and is to be savored along with the meals. Follow April Bloomfield's tips for the perfect cup of tea, plate up some of her soft oatmeal cookies, and get ready to be inspired.

Instead of sharing a recipe, I've imbedded a video that shows Bloomfield cooking three dishes from the book. For a few recipes from A Girl and Her Pig, visit Bloomfield's website.

Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

Buy A Girl and Her Pig at an Indie or a bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Published by HarperCollins / Ecco, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780062003966
Rating: A
Source: bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate 1/26/13, 6:26 AM  

Excellent review of this cookbook. I love that she recognizes that most of her readers will not be professionally trained. I will have to check this out. I have no technical skill when it comes to preparing a dish so I think I could learn a lot from her technique advice. Thanks for sharing!
Happy Reading,
Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 1/26/13, 6:40 AM  

The cover is eye-catching but a little intimidating. My first thought was, will I have to kill and cut up my own cows?! Glad to see that the cookbook is not all about meat.

Thanks for the review.

Sandy Nawrot 1/26/13, 6:47 AM  

I could have done without the dead pig on the front (not that I'm a vegetarian!) but it is eye-catching. I have heard so much about her because of her restaurants. I'm going to at least see if the library has this one.

caite 1/26/13, 7:10 AM  

I do not mind the pig...and I loved this book!

Rikki 1/26/13, 7:40 AM  

I have seen this book before and really liked the cover (I don't have to think about the pig being slaughtered, do I?).

rhapsodyinbooks 1/26/13, 7:47 AM  

I also prefer not to see the animals associated with eating them!

Sheila (Bookjourney) 1/26/13, 8:38 AM  

Sounds like an interesting one. I like the sound of a good Bloody Mary, I love making my own at home!

jama 1/26/13, 8:40 AM  

Wow,that's some cover! Sounds like a fascinating book -- I don't know much about Bloomfield's background and philosophy, but what you've shared here has piqued my interest.

Laurie C 1/26/13, 8:43 AM  

Yes, I'm not a vegetarian anymore, but I wouldn't want a cookbook with that cover!

Beth S. 1/26/13, 8:57 AM  

This book sounds interesting and based on the picture on the cover, I have to say I'm surprised at how accessible it is for the home cook. It seems rather "chef-y" from the picture. (I mean, I'm not sure how many home cooks are going to want to buy a book with a dead pig on the cover)

I seem to recall that this book was involved in that whole ghost-writing controversy that the New York Times exposed last March. I'd definitely want to check this one out to see what all the fuss is about. :)

Beth F 1/26/13, 9:04 AM  

One of the main reasons I didn't review this book earlier is because I had feeling many people would not be able to get past the cover.

I had forgotten about the ghost-writing controversy. Oh well. So be it. Whoever wrote the book did an excellent job.

Esme 1/26/13, 10:26 AM  

You always find the most interesting cook books-I like that she realizes home cooks are not chefs and cooks for taste vs fancy presentation.

JoAnn 1/26/13, 10:46 AM  

Well that cover sure is eye-catching! ;-)

I'm going to see if my library has this one... and I'd love to visit one of her restaurants the next time I'm in NYC.

Julie Goucher 1/26/13, 11:04 AM  

Looks a great book! - A fabulous review.

This week I have done a two parter - all linked up

Jackie McGuinness 1/26/13, 1:23 PM  

This certainly sounds like a great cookbook, by the title I thought it would be all about pork!!

Carole 1/26/13, 1:38 PM  

Hi there - thanks for hosting another week. The book sounds interesting but I do think it needs a better cover and title! Have a good week.

Peaceful Reader 1/26/13, 3:51 PM  

I glanced at twitter early this morning as I tossed and turned trying to get more sleep and failing. You were up and already posting...

I stayed in bed until breakfast called my name.

While this cookbook might be great I don't think I could look at the cover and not see Wilbur.

Heather 1/26/13, 4:36 PM  

Wouldn't be a picture i'\d want of myself, but for a chef, great. It does sound like there is a lot of this chef in her book and that you'd almost become a friend by reading/cooking from it. nice approach. Thanks. Ihave a reveiw of a very different book this week as well as a contest.

Peppermint Ph.D. 1/27/13, 10:23 AM  

I so love watching these master chefs at work...especially the ones like April who are not (yet) such celebrities that they can't talk about the food without having their lip gloss adjusted :p

Unknown 1/27/13, 2:18 PM  

That sounds really great! Is she a member of the nose to tail brigade?

Fay 1/27/13, 6:54 PM  

The duck fat will not happen here, but the lamb looks fabulous, sort of a Provence treatment, with the citrus.

Joy Weese Moll 1/27/13, 7:38 PM  

This sounds really good. I love that it isn't all meat and has salads that sound good, too. I'm ready to get more creative with salads.

Paula 1/27/13, 8:00 PM  

I grew up on a farm so don't mind the cover at all. Sounds like a great cookbook!

Jen Greyson 1/27/13, 9:46 PM  

My brother is a chef, and he always forgets that I can't do a tenth the stuff he can, so I'm glad she knows we're not all crazy good cooks. This sounds super interesting and I'm always looking for great cookbooks! (I mean, other than pinterest LOL)

Christine 1/27/13, 10:24 PM  

I've seen this cookbook around a lot in the last year. While the cover does make me squirm a bit, I do eat meat so I think it's unfair for me to say it's offensive. The truth is, many of us who are omnivores would be quick to turn vegetarian if people like April weren't willing and able to slaughter, butcher and cook from field to table (or supermarket) for us! More power to her for her forthright cover, I say.

Daryl 1/28/13, 7:37 AM  

i don't eat meat and pigs are incredibly intelligent .. that said i love watching chefs at work .. the cover however .. not pleasing to this eye and wont be boosting my appetite

Anonymous,  1/28/13, 4:51 PM  

This cookbook has intrigued me for a while. It definitely has an eye-catching cover. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have a copy!

Julie P. 1/28/13, 7:45 PM  

You had me at the title and the cover!

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