By Anna Soref
Farm Fork Food: A Year of Spectacular Recipes Inspired by Black Cat Farm may be a cookbook, but its photographs are so beautiful you may want to keep it on the coffee table. It’s not a surprise that the farm shots get almost equal billing with the food, since its author is not only an award-winning chef but also a farmer. Yes, when Eric Skokan is not working at his restaurants Black Cat Bistro or Bramble & Hare, you might find him tending his 130-acre farm just outside Boulder, Colorado.
Farm Fork Food pays tribute to Skokan’s two gourmet farm-to-table restaurants as well as the 250 different varieties of plants he grows at Black Cat Farm. Close-up shots of just-unearthed leeks, scarlet borlotti beans and baby radishes, with recipes to match, grace the book’s pages. You’ll be charmed, too, by the images of some of his four hundred farm animals, including shaggy Scottish Highland cattle and Tunis sheep (for which he also offers recipes).
Because Skokan lives on the farm with his wife, Jill, and their four children, he is intimate with its seasonal takings and givings and offers prose throughout the pages reflecting on them—how spring on the farm ushers in hope, for example.
Skokan’s wish is that Farm Fork Food will inspire and help farmers’ market and local food shoppers to cook. “When I tend our farm stand each Saturday, my favorite part is the interaction with customers. They always have questions, and I’ve learned how much I love sharing and teaching. I love giving someone a tip on how to cook a different cut of meat or what to do with this interesting vegetable that they’ve read about but never seen or tasted before. I decided to put these ideas together in a cookbook.”
The book is broken up into twelve cookbook sections, with a few notables like Charcuterie, Lamb & Rabbit and Wild Foraged. The foraging section offers tips for finding dandelion greens, wild asparagus and mushrooms, accompanied by recipes such as Crisp Risotto Cakes with Dandelion Greens and Foraged Asparagus with Morel Fricassee.
Recipes range from the more complex, like Truffled Duck Breast with Plums, Haricots Verts and Foie Gras and Pork Shoulder Smoked over Plum Wood, to the slightly less complex Grilled Scallops with Lime Coconut Sauce and Gnocchi with the First Wild Herbs of the Year.
If you haven’t gleaned, this cookbook is very meat-centric. While the vegetable and dessert recipes may be reason alone to buy the book, if you are put off by the cooking of meat, this may not be the best choice for your next cookbook. But if the idea of spending the better part of a day gathering ingredients and enjoying intricate cooking sounds idyllic, then pick up a copy of Farm Fork Food and hit the farmers’ market!