Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Feast of Enchantment: 5 Simple, Sublime Appetizers

 "Enter these enchanted woods,
You who dare."
--George Meredith, Victorian Novelist and Poet

The Novel Bakers present the second installment of The Forest Feast,
which isn't just a cookbook--it is an enchanted fairy tale for foodies.

The moment I read the introduction, I was swept into the place where food and magic are born. 
At long last, I had found recipes that were made for an exhausted cook like myself--dishes that could be whipped up in seconds and tasted fabulous.
But The Forest Feast is so much more.
When I read the first recipe, I knew I was in the presence of something grand and life-affirming.

In this book, classic dishes are reinvented, combining flavors in fresh, fragrant ways. As I looked at the photos and ingredients, I felt like Alice in Wonderland, curiouser and curiouser.

Is it possible for recipes to be seductive? 

Can I learn how to conjure the very best from ordinary ingredients? 

Can ordinary humans be charmed, dazzled, and forever changed by a cookbook?

I have become enchanted by pomegranates.
They're nutritious, versatile, whimsical, and deeply symbolic. The slick, flushed exterior gives no hint of what lies in its secret heart. One slash of the knife, and we see what the fruit has been hiding: edible jewels.

I have been hypnotized by the smoky, garlicky taste of roasted nuts. 

 I am mesmerized by light, crunchy Fried Sage Leaves. 

Sage Chips

What You Need:

A bunch of fresh sage
olive oil
sea salt

Pour olive oil into a pan and heat. Drop sage leaves into the oil and brown slightly.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer chips onto a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

from The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson

* * *

 I am spellbound by puff pastry-wrapped asparagus.

 I am bewitched by brie, 
especially when it wrapped in pastry, steeped in garlic, and dusted with pomegranate seeds.
But this is no ordinary brie recipe. The ingredients may change the way I cook--
and change the way I think about combining flavors.
I am possessed by a need to consume vast quantities of strawberry salsa.
I am captivated by the zingy taste and the provocative way it hunkers on bruschetta. 

Each bite summons the gods of taste.

The feast awaits you and me....
if we dare.

I'm entranced by The Forest Feast.
Each recipe begins with ordinary ingredients,
and within minutes (and minimal effort), you end up with something extraordinary.
* * *

 On this cold November day, I am dreaming of recipes.
 photo credit: Tyler West

 I am dreaming of polka-dot focaccia, strawberry-arugula wraps, asparagus tarts, rosemary skewers, and kale Caesar salad with polenta croutons.  I am dreaming of anything with pomegranates. 
 Photo Credit: Tyler West

 Photo Credit: Tyler West

 Photo Credit: Tyler West

Photo Credit: Tyler West, Biochemist and Honorary Novel Baker

Visit the Novel Bakers for enchanted excursions into the forest:

For more inspiration, visit A Forest Feast on the NB's Pinterest Board.

Shared at Tablescape Thursday, Wow Us Wednesdays,  and Home Sweet Home.

Note: The Forest Feast is a book from my personal collection. This is not a compensated review--just playtime with the Novel Bakers and joyful sharing of a great cookbook.

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  1. Oh I am enchanted with the way you weave your words and marry them with your recipes! You truly created a feast to share with us. Everything looks sublime from the salsa to your embellished and leaf-adorned Brie. I love that you had honorary NB Bandy photograph you in your chair in the field...What a wonderful spot to dream, wrapped in yourr warm layers....Your bejeweled flats with the edible jewels of the pomegranates made me grin from ear to ear! You feast and dream in style with your flowing locks, while I trample and stomp my way through crunchy leaves in wellies and a ball cap on my untamed hair ;) Thanks for feasting fun and enchanting start to my day this morning ♥

    1. Bandy will be tickled and pleased by your generous praise! I'm off to see you right now. Looking forward to your forest. Hasn't the food been scrumptious? I'm still enjoying the book.

  2. I am dazzled by your photographs and my senses are stirred by your words. Therefore, I am intimidated to even write a comment but I must tell you how much I enjoyed both of your NB posts on" The Forest Feast."
    Love your picture wrapped in blankets in the field and the glimpse of your cute shoes.
    Your food styling is sublime. I am pinning away!

    1. Bonnie, I am thrilled that you enjoyed the NB posts. And so happy that you wrote a comment. Your words are just the tonic that I needed today, and I thank you from the deepest part of my heart. xxoo

  3. I am as enchanted by your words as I am by this extraordinary book~the recipes do indeed sound magical, I want to taste them all!

  4. you can catch my whining over on marys comment, i will spare you the same rant here, the bottom line is that your girls dazzled this books into a new dimension! from you magical sparkling feet, to you cheating and bringing in your heavy hitter bandy to truly make this post just a little too darn perfect, i am just plain bitter over my simplistic approach. YOUR GIRLS HAD TO MUCH FUN!

    i adore your pensive, contemplative moments as you stare intently into the inner workings of a pomegranate and ponder why or why did you never notice that delectable butternut squash before... how you managed to dust up those gorgeous asparagus straws, or how did those sage leaves not crumble and disappear while frying them? oh and don't forget how you really smiled knowing you just killed your brie wheel, surely those girls will swoon over my expertise...

    yep bandy caught those smug, oh so satisfying moments of you relishing your abundant culinary endeavors as you sit so pretty, so content, so knowing in the self knowledge that food and beauty truly do comfort the soul...

    EXCELLENT POST... you and bandy hit it out of the park on this one...

    and worst of all you look 20 years old :-(

  5. Oh my, I love the description of the book as a "fairy tale for foodies"! What can be more enchanting than that?? Your appetizer photos are drool worthy, Michael Lee. I loved the pic of you reading, while cozy under the blanket in your adirondack chair. Hmmmm...which appy to try first???

  6. I want to make everyone of these delicious recipes! I, too, find the idea of this book enchanting and can't wait for my copy to arrive. You girls are filling my senses with each of your posts. Love, love, love the photo Tyler captured in his lens. You are stunning! So glad you shared it.

  7. I didn't eat squash until very recently either, Michael, and I love butternut squash as well. Thank you for the great recipe inspiration! Your Forest Feast looks wonderful! This week I've shared my Best Chocolate Orange Brownie recipe. Thank you for hosting!