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Chez Panisse Fruit Hardcover – April 16, 2002
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Alice Waters's Chez Panisse is one of America's great restaurants. Dedicated to serving French country food made from the finest American ingredients (and furthering the cause of local, conscientiously produced foods of all kinds), the restaurant is also responsible for a remarkable series of cookbooks, including Chez Panisse Vegetables and the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook. Chez Panisse Fruit, coauthored by Waters, proceeds in the innovative spirit of its predecessors, offering 200 exquisite sweet and savory fruit recipes, plus essays that attune readers to growing and marketing issues so they can make wise seasonal selections. Conceived with utmost simplicity, recipes like Spit-Roasted Pork with Onion-and-Apple Marmalade, Caramelized Red Banana Tartlets, and Grilled Cured Duck Breasts with Pickled Peaches truly celebrate the fruits they feature. Though not difficult to prepare, the recipes demand a cook's full attention--at the market as well as in the kitchen. The reward is memorable eating.
Arranged alphabetically from apples to strawberries, the book treats familiar and less familiar fruit, including citron (in dishes like Sautéed Scallops with Citron), loquats (used in Catherine's Loquat Sauce, a delicious accompaniment to grilled meats), and mulberries (delightful in ice cream and sherbet). There are also superb versions of raspberry ice cream, cranberry relish, and blueberry buttermilk pancakes, as well as must-try "original" fare like Rocket Salad with Pomegranates and Toasted Hazelnuts, Tangerine and Chocolate Semifreddo, and Moroccan Chicken with Dates. A section of basics also provides exemplary formulas for the likes of pie dough, biscuits, and pastry cream. Illustrated in the Chez Panisse tradition with relief prints of the fruit, the book is an appreciation of one of our most glorious resources and, tacitly, a call to consciousness about the need to preserve it at its best. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
The eighth Chez Panisse cookbook, which features sweet and savory dishes that use fruit, follows what has become acclaimed chef Alice Waters's patented style: a mix of rustic dishes, many exhibiting Italian and French influence, that highlight the best possible produce. Recipes are organized by fruit, and each chapter begins with a mini-essay on varieties and growing conditions, and often sounds the biodiversity alarm, as when Waters opines, "How sad, then, that well over 90 percent of the apples sold in this country belong to one of only fifteen of those seven thousand varieties." Desserts showcase flavors that may be slightly unfamiliar, either because they use unusual varieties (Caramelized Red Banana Tartlets) or different versions of a common fruit, as with Fig Cookies that are a haute substitute for Fig Newtons and use fresh figs rather than dried. Savory dishes such as Middle Eastern-Style Lamb Stew with Dried Apricots and a tasty assembly of spices skew more traditional. Some of the most intriguing recipes are the simplest, such as Pickled Cherries and Tea-Poached Prunes. At times, Waters's specificity can be exasperating. Will Crpes Suzette with Pixie Tangerine Sherbet be just as good if the sherbet is made with some other variety of tangerine? Still, it's hard to find fault with a book wide-ranging and inventive enough to comfortably encompass Judy's Deep-Fried Lemon and Artichokes, Spring Fruit Compote with Kiwifruit Sherbet and Coconut Meringue, and a tart Vin de Pamplemousse aperitif.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Pomegranate is in season here in Texas and I wasn't aware of anything terribly clever to do with the seeds, short of tossing them in a salad (which, sure, it's great, but man can't live on salad alone! Or at least, I can't.) You can do lots with the juice, but you don't need fresh pomegranates for that. I wanted something that highlighted the fresh fruit itself. Her recipes? Any that used the actual seeds put them... on a salad. Come on, Alice!
Then it was persimmon. Persimmons are in season here now too and are dirt cheap and delicious. I also recently had a soup at the French Laundry that consisted of a parsnip, compressed Fuyu persimmon, black truffle puree, and pine nuts, and it was outstanding. So, again, I opened CP Fruit hoping for some really novel flavor combinations with the persimmon. The recipes? The obligatory persimmon cookies, a persimmon pudding recipe that looks fine but very simple, and then some salads. Again, nothing too bold.
Maybe that's Alice's style, although I've eaten a few times at the Chez Panisse cafe (upstairs) and had some really creative and novel things. So I know her penchant for fresh, local ingredients isn't necessarily also about such simple preparations.
As a final note, incidental except that it does affect my use of the book, it's a beautiful book but will not stay open at all. It's the worst of all my cookbooks for that. I brought a squeeze-clamp in from my toolshed to my kitchen explicitly to hold this book open when I use it.
Not to put it down too much, like I said, there are certainly great recipes in here, and even the simple ones are definitely delicious. Plus, each fruit-chapter begins with a few pages of history and usage notes that are interesting and sometimes useful.
I'll put it this way: Don't get this book expecting to have your eyes opened to startling new ways to put fruit to use in cooking. Instead, expect a solid set of relatively simple (and often classic) recipes for using that fruit. Valuable to some, maybe, but not usually what I'm looking for when I head for my cookbook shelf.