"Simply Organic" Cooking


We got a copy of Simply Organic (Chronicle Books) here in the 7x7 office this week. Written by Jesse Ziff Cool, a longtime local-and-sustainable advocate who owns three organic restaurants down in Palo Alto, it’s a hefty cookbook loaded with semi-glossy pages and gorgeous photographs by SF’s own France Ruffenach. Along with sections on organic resources and on stocking an organic pantry is a brilliant chart of the most important foods to buy organic, due to the high-pesticide content of their conventional versions: The list includes apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes, peaches, pears and spinach. There’s also a shorter list of which conventional produce typically contains the least amount of pesticides: onions, avocados, asparagus, mangoes, kiwi and bananas.

Best of all though, the recipes are arranged by season—and not just your four basic calendar seasons but real harvest seasons such as late spring (an inventive angel-food cake laced with basil and rose petals), midsummer (chilled tomato soup), Indian summer (rosemary grilled figs) and my favorite: deep winter (parsley-root gratin). It’s crazy to long for the dead of winter in early March, but Ruffenach’s photo of a juicy Zinfandel-braised lamb shank over polenta produced that exact longing in my melancholy Slavic soul.

I pulled myself out of my introversion long enough, though, to thumb back to the “First of Spring” section, where we sit perched right now. There you’ll find quail with preserved lemons, asparagus with scallops, raspberry millet pancakes and a simple fennel-and-apricot salad that will have you straining to look for blossoms on the trees and running to the produce market/aisle to see what’s blooming this week. Happy spring.

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