Who better to help me test out the Forest Feast cookbook than the Laforest sisters; Maddie and Danielle. Maddie and I go way back, having met when we were both recent graduates beginning our careers in publishing. You've seen Mads on the site before repping her line, Mad Eyes Jewelry in my review of Arbonne Cosmetics. Her younger sister, Danielle, is a budding graphic designer with some serious creative flare. Given that this book is written and photographed by a seasoned food photographer, they were able appreciate her eye for design, layout, and aesthetic consistency.
All of our immediate reactions to the book were, wow, look at that cover. It is one of the most stunning cookbook covers I've ever seen. Upon opening the front cover the reader is greeted by wonderfully illustrated endpapers, a weakness of mine (I frigging love whimsical endpapers). The introduction tells the author, Erin Gleeson's, personal story of how she came to write the Forest Feast series of cookbooks. After experiencing what sounds like great success as a food photographer, Erin moved to the country where she was able to reconnect with her roots and experience food in a new way.
Her recipes are really simple to make, many of them requiring only a couple ingredients. The methods are very short and to the point, sometimes just a sentence, which I found to be comforting as it suggests precision and perfection are not what's important here. The focus is on fresh ingredients, beautiful presentation, and simplicity.
The first recipe we made were French Radishes (page 39). This recipe was incredibly easy and I chose it because I was intrigued to see how it would taste. It called for butter, salt, and radishes. Maddie and Danielle were also curious to taste it and it took them all of 5 minutes to assemble the entire plate. We used Earth Balance instead of butter, spreading a dollop onto each radish and then sprinkling with crunchy sea salt. The harshness of the radish was calmed by the oil in the spread, and we ended up eating the entire tray! Then we each ate a plain radish and wow did it taste differently in comparison.
Since this book is ideal for entertaining I love that Gleeson included a few choice cocktails. Maddie and Danielle whipped up a flight of Cucumber Spritzers (page 61) using white wine, sparkling water, cucumber, and mint. No adjustments were needed to suit my allergies, but I would be aware that if one of us had an egg allergy we would have needed to research the right wine to use. Some wines are filtered through egg whites, and you can read more about that here. There are wines filtered through casein which is a milk derivative, so I generally stick to wines that I know or have tried before. It's not uncommon for me to turn red in the face when I try a new wine...sigh. We used Jackson Triggs Pinot Grigio.
Next they put together a quick Strawberry Salsa (page 37) that consisted of strawberries, cilantro, lime, and red onion. Just chop it all up and toss in a bowl, then serve with tortilla chips of your choosing. Again, no alterations were required to suit my allergies! We used whole grain Tostitos chips. This salsa was really delicious, so fresh, sweet, and full of flavor.
Things we loved about the book:
Suitable for beginners, even people who are not comfortable in the kitchen!
Very few ingredients required per recipe, and all ingredients are readily available
Healthy, wholesome recipes that your guests will love
Easy to adjust recipes to suit your food allergies or dietary restrictions
Stunning photography with so much intricate detail; attention was paid to every corner of the book
You can pick up a hardcover copy of Forest Feast online here!