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Winter Harvest Cookbook by Lane Morgan

(Step Up to the Plate is running a series of posts to introduce readers to seasonal cooking. We aim to get you through the winter with satisfied taste buds and a head full of delicious recipes. Our first cookbook review is Lane Morgan's Winter Harvest Cookbook.)

Morgan's hortopita pastry

If one cookbook could ever get you through the winter, this is it. Morgan opens by introducing us to exactly what we'll be working with: mini-biographies of all the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that thrive during the cold season. A well-organized index makes it easy to find recipes that cater to whatever is on hand (your CSA delivered nothing but greens this week.. no problem!), and instructions are straightforward and varied.

Morgan's hortopita pastry proved an excellent potluck offering. Tasty even at room temperature, it received enthusiastic reviews from a distinctly omnivorous crowd while the spinach salad added a unique twist to a familiar side dish. Not just for vegetarians, there are recipes on hand that incorporate fish, beef, and pork, as well as a nice selection of sauces, desserts, and gluten-free options.

If this book has one flaw, it's in the baked goods section. While the flavor combinations in the celeriac bread and carrot-date squares are rave-worthy, you might need to experiment a little to get your batter to the desired consistency. And while the lack of pictures might be a negative for some, the space that would have been devoted to shiny images is filled with fun descriptions, sample menus, and helpful tips. With over 200 dishes to try out, there's more than enough in this book to get you through the season in style.