TV chef Tyler Florence brings a direct, regular-guy charm to cooking that is equally straightforward, simple and good. In Tylers Ultimate
, he offers 100-plus recipes for just this kind of food-"ultimate" versions of dishes like onion soup, crab cakes and spaghetti carbonara, as well as more innovative fare like Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese, Grilled Leg of Lamb with Lemon Chickpea Puree and Greens, and Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots, and Lime. His desserts, all tempting, include the likes of Chocolate Banana Bread, and Almond Semifreddo with Spiced Honey Dried Fruit. Many of the dishes in this concise collection reflect a thoughtful winnowing of ingredients and technique to produce food that is not only delicious, but can be prepared on a regular basis. Some of Florences inventions-like Watermelon Gazpacho with Chile and Feta Cheese, which is entirely accomplished in a blender-are ingenious. Photo-illustrated throughout, "Ultimate" is for cooks who want their kitchen work to be as easy as possible, but who also require good cooking-dishes that capture fully their flavor potential. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Were this book not to share a name with Florence's Food Network show, its existence would be a puzzle. As it is, it's hard to make heads or tails of this jumble of decent but not spectacular recipes that share only one thing in common: a forced "guy talk" manner. Chapters are arranged by type of dish, with titles like "Surf" for fish, and each opens with a throw-away introduction of a couple of paragraphs: "noodles are a great way to put a smile on somebody's face." Recipes are equally casual: once you've started the sauce for Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice and Apricots, you're told to "jump to the rice," and in the headnote to Angry Lobster with Tomato-Chile Butter and Arugula, Florence reminisces about working "at a mafia joint in Tribeca" patronized by men "from Jersey with pinky rings... and girls decked out in big hair and gold." Despite this sometimes off-key tone, instructions are clear, and each recipe helpfully comes with an estimated cooking time, most of them quick. Still, one can't help wishing that despite offering truly helpful advice (such as the tip not to shake the pan when making Oven Fries for crispier results), Florence would, in his own parlance, tune down the 'tude, dude. (Nov.)
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