I am a little bit obsessed with the new Bi-Rite Market cookbook. A review copy arrived last week and I haven’t been able to keep my hands off it. I get a lot of cookbooks, so for one to capture my attention so thoroughly is a sure sign that it is an absolute winner.
I plan on showing you more photos from this magical volume in my weekly cookbook post tomorrow, but earlier today I made a pear chutney inspired by it and I just couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. Made from fresh fall pears, dried cherries, freshly grated ginger and a pinch of ground cardamom, this chutney is heady and intensely flavored. As it was cooking, I couldn’t keep myself from nipping small spoonfuls from the pot. I’ve been craving fall in the worst way and it tasted so deeply autumnal. It was just what I needed.
Now, I say that this chutney is inspired by the Bi-Rite Market cookbook because while there is a chutney recipe in there that calls for these same main ingredients, halfway through cooking, I veered fairly wildly off course.
I like my chutneys to be a little bit sweet, strongly flavored and quite acidic. As it’s written, the Bi-Rite version just didn’t give quite me what I want from a chutney (though I adored their choices in fruits and flavors). I pumped up the amount of vinegar, sugar and grated ginger, added quite a bit more liquid and quadrupled the cooking time, so that it could simmer, thicken and soften without running dry.
As you can see from these final pictures, my finished chutney is deep and dark. The pears give it clean, fruity base. The cherries (as well as a splash of apply brandy) add a boozy element. The pinch of cardamom makes for good fragrance. And the ginger, mustard seeds and vinegar lend edge and pucker. It has a lovely texture that is spreadable without being runny (I cannot abide a watery chutney).
Please don’t judge it by its tar-like appearance. I promise, when it’s inspected in light slightly more friendly then the overhead fluorescent bulbs in my kitchen, it is nuanced and appealing to the eye. Had I not finished it moments before dinnertime, I would have unearthed the hunk of fancypants clothbound Cabot cheddar we bought this weekend and gone to town with cheese and chutney.
Truly, I am so pleased with how this chutney ended up. I’ve been feeling uninspired by the kitchen lately and so it was such a joy to find a recipe that captured my attention and motivated me to chop, cook and improvise. Any cookbook that can motivate me to gather ingredients and dash to the stove is one that is worth its space on the shelf. Don’t you agree?