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In the Hands of A Chef: Cooking with Jody Adams of Rialto Restaurant Hardcover – January 8, 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jody Adams, the award-winning chef-owner of Boston's Rialto restaurant, believes that anyone who loves to eat can cook delicious food. Her In the Hands of a Chef bolsters the claim with recipes that help readers follow their instincts to produce great dishes. This is restaurant food that's also approachable by home cooks; the 200-plus recipes, derived from classic European regional cooking but featuring ingredients indigenous to America, should provide pleasure to those who make and enjoy them.

Beginning with chapters devoted to "starters and small bites," soups, salads, and sides, the book then gets down to basics with seafood, poultry, and meat fare, including game. Standout recipes among these include Chilled Smooth Corn Soup with Tomatoes, Avocado, and Lime; Pan-Roasted Salmon with Warm Cucumber Salad; and Braised Chicken Thighs with Ancho Peppers and Andouille Sausage. Chapters devoted to pasta and polenta feature dishes such as Linguine with Salsa Cruda and Semolina Gnocchi with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce and Roasted Marrowbones. The chapter "A Mile in a Chef's Shoes" includes her most beloved dishes, such as Roasted Marinated Long Island Duck with Green Olive and Balsamic Vinegar Sauce. There are also formulas for sweets, such as Lemon-Almond Butter Cake and Heather's Cranberry Chocolate Pecan Tart--"ease of preparation" desserts more typical of the savory cooks than of pastry chefs, Adams notes. This is a delightful collection, full of heart as well as good taste. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Adams, chef at Boston's acclaimed restaurant Rialto, identifies two popular cookbook approaches easy and elaborate and calls for a third: "artisanal home food." As lovely as this sounds, this book also falls under the heading of complicated. However, Rialto's fans will cheer at the chapter of signature recipes like Soupe de Poisson and Roasted Marinated Long Island Duck with Green Olive and Balsamic Vinegar Sauce. Smoked Salmon Rolls with Arugula, Mascarpone, Chives and Capers and sophisticated entries like Grilled Bluefish with Pomegranate Glaze and Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce are perfect for dinner parties. Terrific sides like Beet and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Grilled Fresh Figs double as light lunches. Helpful sidebars explain, for example, how not to overcook pork, but instructions on "How to Break Down a Duck" are confusing. Recipe titles read like advanced Tai Chi maneuvers: Acquacotta Porcini Broth with Soft Polenta, Taleggio, and a Poached Egg... and truffle oil, if the authors hadn't run out of space. There are some exceptions to the elaborate rule, such as Roasted Tomato and Farro Soup, Oliver's Chicken Stew and Orzo in Chicken Broth with Many Greens and Asiago. The pasta chapter includes homemade pastas, and a pizza chapter with fairly simple recipes, but the book gets its mileage out of more elaborate dishes like Fried Rabbit in Hazelnut Crumbs with Peaches and Braised Oxtails with White Beans. In the end, the recipes are clearly written and certainly delectable. Illus. not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; 1 edition (January 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068816837X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688168377
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,324,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This beautifully illustrated and well-written new cookbook is a great antidote to the usual fare. Many cookbooks are either 'do-it-quick' manuals or make you feel inadequate with impossibly complex restaurant presentations. This book takes a third approach, which the authors call artisanal home cooking, but I call 'take the time to really cook things worth eating and worth cooking.'
Jody Adams is the chef at Rialto, a magnificent restaurant in Cambridge, MA, which is the place my wife and I always go for special occassions. The cookbook includes some of their best signature dishes, like soupe de poisson, but mostly it is a guide to Jody's philosophy of home cooking. She takes the reader on a tour of what she calls 'the kitchen in her head,' so that other people can see what it means to cook (and shop and plan menus and entertain) like a chef.
Ken Rivard, the co-author of this book, is a writer and a home cook, and the crisp and lively writing is what really makes this book stand out from the crowd. Many cookbooks have great recipes but are duds to read--this one is informative and entertaining, and strikes just the right balance of explaining techniques without insulting the intelligence of the reader.
I plan to 'cook my way' through this book, something I have never had the desire to do with a cookbook before. I started last night with Oliver's Chicken Stew, which was delicious. The book is designed to provide outstanding recipes, but also to teach a whole new approach to cooking, one that is intended to help people want to spend more time in the kitchen. I am usually intimidated by complex recipes and gorgeous cookbook photos--I know that mine will never look like that--but In the Hands of a Chef inspires confidence that a home cook can move from ordinary to out of the ordinary.
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By A Customer on February 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've now tried six of the recipes in this book--including my personal Last Meal Request, Jody Adams' soupe de poisson--and they've all turned out wonderfully. I mean they're among the very best things I've ever cooked.
Adams' culinary gifts are channeled through Rivard's witty, clear and thoroughly entertaining writing and the results manage to be highly intelligent without being fussy, condescending or dry. To the contrary, the book is marked by an unusual warmth of spirit.
The photographs are of real, excellent food, dishes that--unlike those in some cookbooks--won't be mistaken for baroque Easter bonnets or Post-Minimal artwork.
Be aware: this isn't streamlined cooking for weeknight family dinners. You'll be spending a few hours in the kitchen, but if you genuinely enjoy food and cooking your time will be richly rewarded.
A truly fabulous cookbook.
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Format: Hardcover
It's been a long time since I have gotten excited about a cook book but I am finally excited again. I have tried 3 recipes from this book and have deemed them all "company dishes" even though they were easy and economical to prepare. Very brilliant combinations of ingredients and I can't wait to work my way through this wonderful book
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Format: Hardcover
There are some real gems in this colleciton of recipes. They are unique, not that hard to duplicate and are outstanding.
So far, one is truly a standout in my collection: Fresh Tomato Soup with Seared Eggplant Sandwiches. Other recipes that have caught my attention and palate are: Fingerling Potato, Fig and Tarragon Salad, Winter Vegetable Gratin wiht Cranberries and Chestnuts, Fazzoletti with Lemon Cream, Pistachios, Spinach, and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Seared Quail Stuffed with Mascarpone and Green Peppercorns, and Sweet and Sour Braised Rabbit with Chocolate.
The instructions are thorough and easy to follow. As well, helpful sidebar discussions are provided on certain ingredients and preparation techniques.
All in all, a unique, classy, flavorful cookbook to use and enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this after reading the NYT book reviewer's
praise for it, and I've made several of the recipes.
The hands down winner is the Wild Mushroom Fricassee,
which is that rare combo, exotic seeming but easy
to make.
My only criticism so far would be the production
values -- it's not a visually appealing book.
Otherwise, go for it.
2002 12 31 Update: this continues to be a high favorite among my cook books. After dining at Rialto, my opinion of Adams has only risen. Really, buy it.
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