Our featured cookbook for June 2021 is Homegrown, Cooking from My New England Roots by Matt Jennings. This book features so many great recipes that teach you how to cook modern New England cookery! We are thankful to our friend Corrin who gifted Valarie and I this book. It introduced us to Chef Matt Jennings and his creative approach to cooking through the use of the best quality ingredients.
As stated by culinary expert and chef Andrew Zimmern in the Foreword of the book, “Homegrown will make your kitchen a better place to cook in and a better place to eat in and will supply you with a lifetime of great recipes that your family will love.”
The recipes laid out in this book teach you Modern New England Cookery. Although there are great spins on beloved classics, Matt also shares the traditional recipes like his Mom’s Clam Chowder and Yankee Gumbo.
Matt passes on the knowledge he gained formally at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. He also gained immense knowledge from working a specialty food store on Nantucket, then moving to kitchens the next summer. The kitchens included clam shacks on Nantucket, catering gigs on Nantucket, the Hyatt in Phoenix and his decade long run at his restaurant Farmstead in Providence, Rhode Island and finally his time at the much-acclaimed Townsman in Boston. Although he has since closed up Townsman and moved back to Vermont in pursuit of a cleaner and purer lifestyle both in and out of the kitchen. The recipes in Homegrown are timeless and can be enjoyed any time of year or for that special occasion when you want to create beautiful memories around food, family and friends.
Homegrown is a must have cookbook for foodies. It is a tool in itself and should be kept only an arm’s length away when the question comes up, “what should I make for dinner?” We are fans of this thoughtful cookbook, not only because of the quality and uniqueness of the recipes, but because of our love for New England as well. Something can be said about Yankee Cookery and the love of New England.
Matt explains that although he traveled and lived in many other places, including California and Italy, he came back to his roots. Just as he describes the magnetism that brought him home to New England, we can attest to it as well by the draw we feel towards Maine.
We have spent seventeen seasons in Maine and are currently planning to relocate fulltime. Once you visit New England and all it has to offer, especially it’s food (think Lobster Roll) you are hooked. You will not only want this book in your kitchen, but you will want New England in your Kitchen. If you need a refresher on your geography, we love the graphic of showing Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine on the front and back inside covers.
Andrew Zimmern tells a great store about Matt’s character, focus and attention to detail. Andrew arrived at Matt’s Farmstead restaurant in the middle of a food inspector crisis. Not only did Matt address the issue, but he pivoted back to Andrew and graciously opened his kitchen and restaurant to Andrew and his crew over the next few days. Although we only know Matt virtually through his cookbook, interviews and Instagram page, we can tell he makes everyone feel at home, whether in a professional setting or at his home! A family man who loves his New England roots and loves to share his foodie passion.
The classics will always remain classics, but we really appreciate his spin on great recipes like Evie’s Pub Cheese, Farmstead Mac and Cheese, Milk-Braised Chicken Legs, Beer Steamed Littleneck Clams and Mussels with Red Curry Broth and Lemongrass. This book is loaded with amazing rib-sticking recipes.
We are huge fans of sauces. We believe beautiful sauces separate the average dishes from great dishes, or as I like to say the “boys from the men.” Matt’s use of sauces is extensive and takes up almost an entire column in the index. A sauce for every occasion!
“I missed the cooking rhythms set by four distinct seasons and the heightened sense of excitement that heralded the arrival of the year’s first asparagus or corn, and the first snow flurries calling us to the kitchen to braise something rib-sticking.” Matt Jennings
Homegrown is divided into five main sections: Dairy, Ocean, Farm, Garden & Orchard, and Forest. Also love the pages after the recipes featuring New England Dishes organized by State and a list of resources for you to source many of the amazing ingredients Chef Jennings uses in many of his dishes.
Below are some incredible recipes you should make as soon as you add this book to your cookbook shelf:
- Evie’s Pub Cheese – This recipe was handed down from his grandma and is said to rival any pimento cheese from the south. He recommends this beautiful dish be enjoyed with wheat thins. (P-23)
- Farm Stand Mac and Cheese– The ultra mac and cheese recipe is from his first restaurant, Farmstand, and features a blend of Gruyére, Brie and cheddar cheeses. The cheeses are melted with penne pasta topped with breadcrumbs and nutmeg. (P-36)
- Beer-steamed Little Neck Clams with Chorizo Verde – Matt showcases the Portuguese heritage found around New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts with this recipe. He combines pork and clams in this recipe. He uses chorizo verde uncased with fresh clams for this celebrated recipe. The addition of greens makes this dish a meal in itself. (P-97)
- Peached Crostata with Almond Cream – This beautiful rustic Italian dessert is finished with almon-rum cream. Impress your guests or your spouse with this memorable dessert. (P-247)
- Blueberry Cobbler Bars with Grilled Lemon Curd – This beautiful dessert has a distinct heritage to it. It was handed down from one of Townsman’s pastry chef. A perfect dessert for any gathering. (P-257)
Photography / Styling / Publisher
The photography by High Galdones is this book has great editorial-like feel to each shot. This premier food photographer specializes in documenting all things delicious. No cream puff pictures here against a bright white backdrop. Just Matt’s big puppy paws with his trademark tattoos and beautiful food plated on trays, cutting boards and every style dish and plate. Some cookbooks have a catalog like appearance with all their food shots. This has more of the feel of a scrapbook full of your favorite dishes with your favorite polaroid’s or 4”x6” printed photos. It is refreshing in a digital age to hold the linen cover and matted pages. This book has a vintage appeal with modern New England Cookery sandwiched between the covers. Love the photo on Page 1 of Matt holding a pan a saucing his food. The picture is timeless in style and the focus is on the ingredients!
The layout and graphics are varied throughout the book giving it a refreshing appeal with the turn of every page. It doesn’t feel like the last 10 pages you read are all cookie cutter in style and design and especially the photography. The recipes take you down a path from shellfish to pheasant and everywhere in between using great ingredients found in the forest, ocean and orchard.
This book tops out at 340 pages. If I was on an Island off the coast of New England, this is the one book I would take with me.
The book was published in by Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Company. Artisan produces books that inspire and instruct. They are committed to the visual mandate of strong meaningful content utilizing photography, illustration and graphic design. They specialize in producing award-winning content wrapped around beautiful design.
We have hundreds of cookbooks, but if you could only have one stack of cookbooks in your kitchen, Homegrown must be in that stack. You need this versatile cookbook for the beautiful use of ingredients and the attention to detail in every sauce and special ingredient he cooks with to create that wow factor in flavor and appearance. No tweezers needed for this type of cookery, just amazing recipes plated for good home cooking enjoyment!
Unstoppable Foodie Cookbook Club
Valarie and I love cookbooks. Anywhere where you sit in our house, a book is no more than an arm’s length away. Multiple copies of digital cookbooks have been downloaded to our devices, but there is nothing like holding a physical cookbook in your hands. A book filled with amazing stories and recipes. It is no surprise, whenever you open a cookbook from our shelves, you will see notes in the columns, tabbed pages, and printed out recipes or ingredient lists stuffed between the covers. Cookbooks are meant to be used just like any other tool in the kitchen.
We love the practicality and usefulness of cookbooks, but we are always hooked by the stories behind the recipes in a cookbook. In that spirit, we combined our intellectual curiosity with our passion for great food. “Exploring the World, One Dish at a Time” will always be our passion and the mission behind Unstoppable Foodie and Unstoppable Foodie Cookbook Club
We would love to eventually roll the book club into an in-person cooking event, but for now we will keep it a virtual activity of sharing recipes from our favorite cookbooks on social media. We are looking to eventually offer an online class where we can cook together real time through a live stream platform.
The goal of the book club is simply to inspire you to cook more by elevating home cooking skills. It is meant to be fun. Regardless of your current skill level, we look forward to you joining us. We are sure through this experience you will undoubtably increase your skills in the kitchen.
Please share your photos or your dishes with us so we can feature them on our socials and on our blog. Be sure to use the #unstoppablefoodie or #unstoppablefoodiecookbookclub. The Unstoppable Foodie Cookbook Club is meant to be a social activity and a two-way street for all of us to get better at cooking and spending more time in the kitchen. We hope you join us on this culinary adventure!
In addition to our monthly blog post featuring our favorite cookbooks, we will give away a new copy of the featured cookbook on Instagram.