How to Get More Plants on Your Plate: A Cookbook Review
Dandelion and Quince
Exploring the wide world of unusual vegetables, fruits and herbs
By Michelle McKenzie, photography by Rick Poon
Maybe you signed up for a CSA (community sponsored agriculture) box, and when it comes, you can’t even name the contents – much less cook them.
Enter Dandelion and Quince by Michelle McKenzie
If mixing the words esoteric and cooking gets you excited, check out this cookbook.
What’s in Dandelion and Quince
Organized: by strange and wonderful produce type (36 different ones)
Fabulous introduction: that inspires a near-religious experience over fresh food. Along with basic kitchen wisdom and a guide to the elements of food flavor and texture.
Pantry essentials: a chapter of good things like kombu stock, preserved lemons and homemade creme fraiche
Directions: to make a small smoker. Smoking egg yolks and chipotle peppers are on my food bucket list.
Photographs: pure art. Aspirational for both cooks and food photographers.
How’s Dandelion and Quince going to improve your life
Stump the grocery store cashier: when you show up in the checkout line with all manner of crazy produce. One of my favorite sports.
Raise the bar: by opening up a world of fruits, vegetables, and herbs you probably haven’t cooked with and possibly haven’t been introduced to.
Green things: you’ve probably never considered eating before are now gourmet. There are entire chapters on celery leaves, dandelions, edible flowers, fava leaves, nettles, rose petals and weeds.
Impress: pick any recipe in the book and wow your foodie friends.
Who’s going to love Dandelion and Quince
Like Alice Waters, Michelle McKenzie defies pigeon-holing. She’s an artist. There’s something in this book for everyone. If the exploratory nature of the recipes appeals to you in the first place, I imagine you have the cooking know-how to make any adaptations to fit your diet.
This is a cookbook for people that love to cook and color outside the lines.
10 Example recipes in Dandelion and Quince
Shinko Pear and Buttermilk Sorbet
Six Citrus Rice Salad – New item for the bucket list: Eat a Budda’s Hand
Daikon Braised in Black Cardamom Ghee
Smoked Fig Leaf Cookies
Whole Roasted Fish Stuffed with Green Garlic, Rosemary and Lemon
Lamb Meatballs with Chestnuts and Pomegranate
Spelt and Radicchio Risotto
Salt Cod Fritters with Sorrel Mayonnaise
Watermelon Salad with Buckwheat Sprouts and Feta
The Recipe I’m trying first:
Six Citrus Rice Salad
(not every recipe in the book is this complicated, but it gives you an idea of the cooking gauntlet being thrown down, you gotta love a recipe with 3 sub-recipes)
4 cups Perfect Steamed Rice, at room temperature (see page 286)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon white shoyu or soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Pinch of palm sugar
1 or 2 chiles de Arbol, very thinly sliced (seeds included)
1/4 cup Shallot Oil (see page 225)
Fine sea salt
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shaved Budda’s hand
1/2 cup shaved mandarinquats
1 cup pomelo segments, torn or cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup Crispy Shallots (see page 225)
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
Place the rice in a large mixing bowl and use a fork to fluff it well. In a small bowl whisk together the citrus juices, shoyu, fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic and chile de Arbol, Shallot Oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Dress the rice and use the fork to toss thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently with clean hands. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more fish sauce, chile, citrus juice, oil or salt to suit your palate.
From Dandelion and Quince pg 18
Is this a cookbook you want to own
If you’ve always wanted to eat a Buddha’s hand. Yes
If you want to smoke foods (like, in a smoker…) Yes
If you love to cook with herbs and spices. Yes
If you love using exotic fruits and vegetables. Yes
If you want to experiment with a wide variety of flavor profiles. Yes