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In sync with the seasons

October 22, 2008 | 11:30 am

Cropped_in_season_6I misread the news release months ago and thought Dan Barber, chef of the phenomenal Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Pocantico Hills of New York was coming out with a cookbook this fall. He isn't (or at least not that I know of).

Instead he's written the introduction to a fine cookbook by British garden guru Sarah Raven called "In Season: Cooking With Vegetables and Fruits." I have a couple of her excellent gardening books in my library — "The Great Vegetable Plot: Delicious Varieties to Grow and Eat" and "Cutting Garden: Growing and Arranging Garden Flowers." And her cooking style is as easy as her way with flower and vegetable gardens.

This is a book you'll want to use for inspiration and low-stress entertaining. Thumbing through, I see lots of recipes I'd like to make: Sally Clarke's young carrots with freshly shelled peas and tarragon leaves; cranberry bean hummus with anchovies, garlic, yogurt, lemon and olive oil. Or pappardelle with walnuts and cream.

Chapters are arranged by months and by produce. September and October feature apples, eggplants, celery, mushrooms, nuts, quinces and more, for example. And although recipes may feature any of these ingredients, they're not all vegetarian. Not at all. There's a recipe for Greek pork with quince, for a pheasant and leek pie, lamb fricassée with cos lettuce and lemon.

The next time I'm cooking a birthday dinner for a friend, I have my eye on Raven's chestnut Pavlova, a chestnut meringue topped with cooked chestnuts, heavy cream and tart, caramelized apples perfumed with brandy.

"In Season" by Sarah Raven, Universe Publishing (a division of Rizzoli International Publications), $40.

—S. Irene Virbila

Illustration is a scan of the cover of "In Season."