From the Cook's Garden

From the Cook's Garden

Author: Ellen Ecker Ogden

Illustrated by Mary Azarian

Published by William Morrow

Review By Brenda Hyde

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I'll admit that I'm slightly biased about From the Cook's Garden. The artwork of Mary Azarian was enough of a reason for me to own the book. Plus, being addicted to seed catalogs as I am, I've been receiving the Cook's Garden catalog for many years and enjoyed the recipes included with it. I was thrilled when I found out that Ellen Ecker Ogden had authored a cookbook!

I was not disappointed. The charming vividly colored woodcut illustrations are scattered throughout the cookbook, and the recipes are fresh and original. The author also shares cooking tips, and a wonderful feature called Letter From the Garden that shares observations on the garden. The cookbook is for all cooks, whether you grow your own produce and herbs, or shop locally for your vegetables and fruits. But a bonus for me was the gardening tips included among the recipes since I am an avid gardener.

There are 150 recipes in From the Cook's Garden, including breads, side dishes, desserts, salsas, pesto, beverages and of course main dishes.

I have to share though that on page 28 is a beautiful full page illustration of a woman reading seed catalogs while sipping tea. It includes the caption:

Summer Gardens Bloom Glorious in Winter Dreams

From the Cook's Garden will not only be a welcome addition to my collection of cookbooks but it will be a comfort for me in winter when I can dream of the summer harvest on those cold, blustery days.

Sample Recipes From the Cook's Garden

Ginger Carrot Soup

Makes 6 Servings

Carrots are always fun to compare because their flavor differences are so pronounced. The sweetest by far is the Touchon, a French heirloom we grow all year round. Plant a fall crop to overwinter in a cold frame and sweet carrots will be ready to harvest in the early spring. This soup, which certainly can be made with any carrot variety, has a rich color and a fragrant bouquet of spices. Vanilla yogurt enhances the carrots' sweetness. Serve it hot or cold.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

8 medium carrots, scrubbed, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

2 cups peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1/3 medium squash)

5 cups Vegetable Broth (page 27) or water 1/2 cup apple cider

1 cup vanilla-flavored yogurt

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and saffron and stir until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the carrots and squash and cover. Cook, stirring often, until the carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and cider and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes.

In batches, purée the soup with the yogurt in a blender or food processor until smooth. If serving hot, return to the pot, season with the salt and pepper, and gently reheat, being sure not to boil the soup or the yogurt will curdle. If serving cold, transfer to a bowl and cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Season with the salt and pepper shortly before serving.

Twice Baked Potatoes With Savory Green Sauce

Makes 4 Servings

Baked potatoes are a favorite in our family, so we plant four times as many starchy baking potatoes as any other type. Even though they store well in our root cellar, we have usually gone through our entire crop by spring. There may be nothing quite as satisfying as a buttered potato, but this tangy sauce is exceptionally good, and can be served with Herbed Zucchini Pancakes (page 144) or put into service as a dip for crudités. Use whatever greens are abundant in your garden --- the combination below is only a suggestion.


6 large baking potatoes, scrubbed, patted dry, and poked several times with a fork

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

A cup milk or half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated horseradish root, or use prepared horseradish

2 cups mixed cooking greens and herbs, such as a combination of fresh spinach, young kale, or mustard greens

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake until the potatoes are tender, about 1 hour. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh into a bowl, leaving potato-skin shells. Mash the potato flesh with the butter and milk, and season with the salt and pepper. Refill the shells and, if necessary, return to the oven to keep warm.

In the meantime, make the sauce. Fit a food processor with the metal blade. With the machine running, drop the garlic through the feed tube to mince the garlic. Add the yogurt and horseradish and pulse to combine. Add the greens and process until the greens are puréed. Serve the potatoes hot, with the sauce passed on the side.

From the Cook's Garden by Ellen Ecker Ogden. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

About the Author:

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer, wife and mom to three living in the Midwest. She is an avid herb gardener and cook.

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Seasonal Feature
Summer Harvest Tea

Before the cool weather sets in, enjoy the bounty of your herb, flower and vegetable gardens by giving a Summer Harvest Tea Party. Plan your theme around the garden, invite friends and family. Don't make it a formal affair, but rather a way to celebrate everyone's gardens and share produce, flowers, seeds and advice.

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Harvesting and Using Summer Squash

Summer squash is one of my favorite vegetables. I love the yellow summer squash in particular. They should be harvested while still tender, when they have a "glossy" appearance and are still small. You will most likely need to harvest daily once they start to appear.

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