Can a great chef's cookbook feel loose, almost laid-back? It can if its author is Jonathan Waxman, a "founding chef" at Alice Water's Chez Panisse and proprietor of Jams and Barbuto in Manhattan. His A Great American Cook
--a collection of 100-plus recipes for the likes of Sea Scallop Fettuccine, Pork Shoulder with Mole Sauce, and Curried Catfish with Apple-Corn Fritters--shows a master in top form, blending global cooking traditions to produce uniquely American food, homey yet refined. His dishes are accessible to all cooks willing to cull the necessary (sometimes pricey) ingredients and spend a bit of time in the kitchen.
Following an idiosyncratic take on ingredients and techniques (on bacon: "OK--I love bacon--and yeah, I'm from a Jewish household") the book explores, in addition to the usual course stops, sandwiches like Shrimp BLT and pizzas, as well as desserts, including Angel Food Cake with Toffee Crunch and Flourless Chocolate Espresso Tart. Of top interest are Waxman's grilling how-to's and other technical insights (for example, to dress a salad properly, add the vinegar first). Seafood, and salmon in particular, receives expert attention. Here is one man's soul cooking of a high yet relaxed order that readers will happily embrace. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Waxman, hailed as one of the founders of New American cuisine, brought California cookery to the East Coast. After stints in Paris and at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., Waxman went on to found several prominent restaurants, including Manhattan's Jams and Sonoma's West Country Grill. In this handsome cookbook, his first, he offers recipes ranging from simple to complex, a tantalizing mix of rustic, ethnic and regional cooking that includes Wild Mushroom and Leek Soup, Pulled Beef and BBQ Sauce Sandwich, and Pork Tenderloin with Portobello Mushroom Sauce. Recipes are relatively short and easy to prepare, and instructions are clear and concise. Some dishes, such as Perfect Roast Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Spinach, are pleasantly familiar, while others, like Pheasant with Oyster Stuffing, are somewhat beyond the standard fare but still appealing. Waxman also includes a chapter on sandwiches and pizza. Bobby Flay, a Waxman disciple, provides a foreword. More than 50 color photos not seen by PW
. Author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.