Do we really need more recipes for beef stew, polenta, and ratatouille? If they're the work of famed restaurateur and "food activist" Alice Waters, undoubtedly. In The Art of Simple Food
, Waters offers 200-plus recipes for these and other simple but savory dishes, like Spicy Cauliflower Soup, Fava Bean Purée, and Braised Chicken Legs, as well as dessert formulas for the likes of Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp and Tangerine Ice. In addition, readers learn (or become reacquainted with) the Waters mantra: eat locally and sustainably; eat seasonally; shop at farmers markets. These are the rules by which she approaches food and cooking, and hopes we will too. Organized largely by techniques, the book is a kind of primer, designed to free readers from recipe reliance.
Some readers may look askance at advice that they search out sources for locally produced food, for example, given the everyday exigencies of shopping and getting meals on the table. Yet it is precisely the need to "remake" our relationship to food that, Waters contends, determines the ultimate success of all our cooking and dining, not to mention our health and that of the planet. This relatively small book has a large message, and good everyday recipes to back it up. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
The delicious dishes described in the latest cookbook from Chez Panisse founder Waters, such as a four-ingredient Soda Bread and Cauliflower Salad with Olives and Capers, are simple indeed, though the book's structure is complex, if intuitive. After a useful discussion of ingredients and equipment come chapters on techniques, such as making broth and soup. Each of these includes three or four recipes that rely on the technique described, which can lead to repetition (still preferable to a lack of guidance): a chapter on roasting contains two pages of instructions on roasting a chicken (including a hint to salt it a day in advance for juicy results), followed by a recipe for Roast Chicken that is simply an abbreviated version of those two pages. The final third of the book divides many more recipes traditionally into salads, pasta and so forth. Waters taps an almost endless supply of ideas for appealing and fresh yet low-stress dishes: Zucchini Ragout with Bacon and Tomato, Onion Custard Pie, Chocolate Crackle Cookies with almonds and a little brandy. Whether explaining why salting food properly is key or describing the steps to creating the ideal Grilled Cheese Sandwich, she continues to prove herself one of our best modern-day food writers. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.