Heirloom, Sarah Owens, James Beard-winning authors
Heirloom was a pick on Mark Bittman’s Heated from Paige at Archestratus.
Sarah Owens has been baking some of the best bread in NYC slightly under the radar for years. Her first book, “Sourdough,” is a staple at Archestratus, and I’ve heard tales of gluten-averse people who are somehow still able to gleefully consume her loaves.
While “Heirloom” does have some sourdough recipes (and even a chapter titled “Using Sourdough to Improve Digestibility”), this definitely is not just a bread book: It’s a lavish meditation on fermentation as a way of perceiving a whole food experience and is written by someone who walks the talk.
Owens knows the only constant is change, especially with food. With recipes like whey-marinated shrimp ceviche, bread kvass, fermented green tomatoes, and brown butter sourdough banana bread, you really do start to internalize her themes of vitality, seasonality, and abundance. Wherever she can, she stays away from processed ingredients. In her recipe for orange cardamom cake, for instance, it calls for boiling oranges, quartering them, and reserving the seeds. Why? All the citric seeds are saved in this book because a cup of them thrown into fruit for jam becomes a natural (better) pectin: no extra water needed. The cake is then also made by mixing flour with sourdough breadcrumbs, which is just an effortless, tasty way to use them up. This is the kind of breadth of knowledge you want in a cookbook, one where each turning over of a page feels like the turning over of a rock.