This review was written by my assistant, Christina.
Shopping by season is a great way to save money on a whole foods diet, but it’s not always easy to do. Most supermarkets carry most produce year-round, and after any significant diet change, it’s easy to have a collection of favorite recipes you go back to time and time again. If eating only seasonal produce would mean shelving some of those favorites for part of the year, you may not be very motivated to eat seasonally! Peter Servold‘s new cookbook Paleo By Season takes the hassle out of shopping for and cooking seasonal foods. Peter is a gourmet chef and his recipes really are a feast for the eyes, with the kind of plating and photography that make this a great coffee table book. But that doesn’t mean his recipes are complicated to prepare or that your presentation needs to look as good as his does. More than any other cookbook I’ve read lately, Peter’s highlights the idea that cooking is an art, with fresh, flavorful ingredients as the medium.
The book includes over 100 recipes, each with its own difficulty rating (although I found that most of the recipes with a higher difficulty rating weren’t actually that hard to prepare, just more time-consuming). Peter highlights the huge variety of ingredients available on the Paleo diet with recipes from all over the world from curries and dumplings to simple comfort foods like mashed potatoes and chocolate pie. You’ll find quick-and-easy meals for a casual weeknight dinner and you’ll find meals with a more gourmet leaning that you might whip out for a holiday or dinner party to impress your guests. The recipes are arranged by season, which may be a bit disorienting for those of us used to navigating cookbooks by chapters like soups, side dishes, and desserts. In each chapter, you’ll find a variety of vegetable dishes, meats, and a few fruit- or vegetable-based treats. There’s also a photographic recipe index at the back to help you get around.
I knew I had to make Peter’s Thai Ginger Pork Sausage the second I saw the recipe. It uses a large helping of one of my all-time favorite ingredients, fresh Thai basil. Unfortunately, with four teaspoons of salt to one pound of ground pork, we all found it too salty to enjoy (and if I’d thought about it before I made the recipe, I would have known to reduce the salt). I’ve since made it with much less salt and absolutely love the basil and garlic flavors that shine through, going to show that a little experimentation goes a long way. And it’s a great way to get rid of any fresh basil or ginger you might have lying around.
The Candied Bacon and Apple Salad has a high difficulty rating, and I learned why right off the bat. Candied bacon is a very touchy thing to make, as Peter will tell you. Even though my bacon came out sticky and undercooked with most of the sugar burned at the bottom of my pan, I went ahead and made the recipe with regular pan-fried crispy bacon and added just a bit of honey to the salad for some of that “candied” flavor. Um. I’ll make that one again, any time! I barely got to have any, it was gone so fast. Even if I never master candied bacon, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy fresh apples.
Peter’s Coffee Ice Cream involves making ice cream out of coffee brewed in coconut milk instead of water. It is divine. For ice cream snobs like yours truly, it doesn’t have quite the right fat profile to put that thick, creamy feeling at the back of your tongue (but then, no dairy-free ice cream does). All the same, it is rich and oh-so-satisfying. I can’t wait to try it again… maybe with a dark chocolate swirl added. Mmm!
Paleo By Season is more than a Paleo cookbook. It is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in eating locally, sustainably, or seasonally, in eating snout-to-tail, and in eating the widest variety of produce they have access to. Peter will walk you through essential kitchen techniques from keeping your knives sharp to roasting vegetables, sourcing sustainable food from local farmers and ranchers, and show you how to get the most out of whatever ingredients you can find locally at any given time of year.