Chefs' cookbooks are notorious for enticing recipes that home cooks can't hack. In Chef, Interrupted, Melissa Clark betters the situation. She's taken recipes from leading chefs like Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, and Alain Ducasse and pared them down--interrupted them, as she puts it--for home use. Included are the attractive likes of Heirloom Pea Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche; Spaghetti with Preserved Tuna, Lemon Zest, Hot Pepper, Capers, and Olives; Tagine of Lamb Shanks with Prunes, Ginger, and Toasted Almonds; and Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfaits with Caramelized Bananas.
Clark has the technical smarts (and taste) to know where and how to nip and tuck, usually by removing ancillary preparations or unnecessary steps. If her conscientious work often makes otherwise inaccessible dishes more approachable, readers should also know that many of the dishes, which can call for special ingredients, are still not for everyday cooking. But food-loving readers interested in last-word creations will undoubtedly want to try making this standout fare. To further ease the way, Clark and the chefs provide copious notes that help explain ingredients and techniques while recipe intros offer even more elucidation. With photos that depict the dishes and multiple shots of the author with the chefs on the job, the book should bring top-drawer dining closer to home. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
A prolific cookbook coauthor and food writer, Clark revises the innovative recipes of top restaurant chefs, hoping to make them easier for nonpros. Her tweaks generally consist of replacing hard-to-find or difficult-to-manage ingredients with more available and user-friendly ones, then condensing steps to reduce preparation time and carefully clarifying more advanced techniques. By deconstructing each dish into its most necessary elements and bypassing fussy flourishes, Clark succeeds in keeping the essence of most of the famous chefs' foods. Home cooks will be delighted by Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Tea Foam based on Marcus Samuelsson's Aquavit recipe, or the Charlie Trotter–inspired Five-Spice-Crusted Tuna with Roasted Carrots and Rutabaga Purée, or a streamlined version of Eleven Madison Park's Chocolate–Peanut Butter Parfaits with Caramelized Bananas. Though simplified, these are sophisticated dishes that require planning ahead. Prep times are generally an hour or more, and that doesn't include the many ingredients that require chilling overnight, marinating a day ahead of time or a few extra hours of baking. Despite these obstacles, the promise of being able to prepare dishes made famous by the likes of Mario Batali and Alain Ducasse is indeed alluring. Photos. (On sale Sept. 20)
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