"When it comes to cooking, there are twelve seasons," says Alfred Portale, the world-renowned chef of the Gotham Bar and Grill restaurant. To him, each month is a season unto itself--not just because crucial ingredients peak at different points during the traditional four seasons, but also because each month carries with it a unique set of emotions and associations.
Alfred Portale's 12 Seasons Cookbook takes the home cook on a deeply personal journey through the year in food. Many chapters are ingredient-driven, such as May, which Portale dubs "The Big Bang of the Culinary Year," because of the proliferation of vegetables such as fava beans, asparagus, and morel mushrooms. August, entitled "Seize the Day," presents recipes that lend themselves to late-summer entertaining. "November--Giving Thanks" is devoted entirely to Portale's interpretations of Thanksgiving standards while "December--Celebrations" shares elegant holiday dishes as well as a selection of canapés and food to give as gifts. Portale also offers his unique approach to months like September in which he responds to the post-Labor Day return to work and school with "Recipes for Busy Times."
As in his award-winning Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook, Portale provides instructions for planning ahead and for how to vary or expand recipes to accommodate ingredient availability and seasonality. He also includes essays on favorite foods and techniques, tips on preserving, advice on what to drink, and suggestions for thematic menus. Brought to breathtaking life with more than one hundred full-color photographs, Alfred Portale's 12 Seasons Cookbook captures the glory and possibility of every month of the year.
The Big Bang of the Culinary Year
If a chef rather than an astronomer had devised the calendar, the year would begin not in January but in May, when the vegetables that appear are a cook's dream come true. May is the time of life beginning anew, of optimism and promise, and this spirit is revealed in the fragile shade of green that infuses the entire landscape--a pale, expectant hue that announces tender young buds and shoots as they sprout into being. Not coincidentally, this color also defines many of the foods of May, such as pea shoots, fava beans, and asparagus--many of which rank among my favorites of any month.
These vegetables share a similarity of spirit, a vulnerability if you will, that is wonderfully appropriate to the time of year. This month is also cherished a bit more than the others because many of its culinary gifts are as fleeting as daffodils. Ramps (sweet, wild leeks) and fiddleheads, for instance, truly flourish only during these few short weeks, a...
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