The For­est Feast: Sim­ple Veg­e­tar­i­an Recipes from My Cab­in in the Woods

Erin Glee­son
  • Review
September 18, 2014

Erin Gleeson’s new cook­book, The For­est Feast: Sim­ple Veg­e­tar­i­an Recipes from My Cab­in in the Woods, is a gor­geous hard-cov­er spread con­tain­ing col­or­ful, earthy, and — as promised — sim­ple dish­es. In her intro­duc­tion, Glee­son explains that she hopes the book will find its way some­where between your cof­fee table and your kitchen counter.” A food pho­tog­ra­ph­er by trade, her beau­ti­ful visu­als of recipes inspired by farm fresh pro­duce and set against the back­drop of her Cal­i­for­nia cab­in in the woods are pleas­ing to flip through. The pho­tographs are splashed with water­col­ors and illus­tra­tions. These are images that will also com­pel you to try the recipes. Take, for exam­ple, Accor­dion Zuc­chi­ni” — a dish that calls for cut­ting up the veg­etable and slot­ting gar­lic through thin slices. For French Rad­ishes,” you halve the root veg­eta­bles and top them with but­ter. Many of Gleeson’s recipes work well for those who love the look and taste of fresh pro­duce but some­times need to be lured by a slab of cheese, a coat of but­ter, or an olive oil, salt, and gar­lic finish. 

The dish­es are all veg­e­tar­i­an, but some, like Roast­ed Veg­gie Gnoc­chi” or Egg­plant Tacos,’” could stand alone as a sat­is­fy­ing entrée. The pho­tog­ra­ph­er-turned-chef writes of hav­ing been inspired by her love of enter­taining oth­ers and host­ing din­ner par­ties, a delight shared with her hus­band. As such, the recipes are meant to please the eye and the palate (not to men­tion the wal­let), some­times in unex­pect­ed ways. Straw­ber­ry Sal­sa” is a strik­ing red con­coc­tion involv­ing, among oth­er ingre­di­ents, cilantro, lime, and straw­ber­ries; Pur­ple Mashed Pota­toes” speaks for itself. 

My favorite sec­tion of the book con­tained Gleeson’s sam­pling of cock­tails. In her Blue­ber­ry Sparkler,” she uses frozen blue­ber­ries instead of ice and gar­nish­es with a lemon slice. Her Lemon Basil Moji­tos,” which include lemon slice, basil, and mint ice cubes, are mild enough to com­ple­ment a savory meal, but fla­vor­ful enough to stand on their own. For a Chai Hot Tod­dy,” you’re meant to push whole cloves into an orange slice to gar­nish the drink. It’s Gleeson’s eye — and taste — for detail that makes this cook­book one to return to, for easy inspiration.

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