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A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes Hardcover – October 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Both a meditation on the powerful rites of cooking and serving a meal and a gentle but serious education in doing both, this book by the part-time head chef at Berkeley's renowned Chez Panisse is an impressive ode to the simple beauty of food. With 24 menus distributed over the course of a year, Tanis emphasizes seasonality with ingredients (blueberry-blackberry crumble in summer; celery root mashed potatoes in winter) and with the types of dishes provided for each menu (as with a divine, warming lobster risotto as part of a menu for a cold spring day). Anecdotes from his peripatetic life of enjoying good food around the world, from Venice to Morocco to New Mexico, add another intimate dimension and help the book appear written just for the reader by a kind, patient friend. Many of the recipes are almost as simple as the title implies: a summer menu features sliced tomatoes with sea salt, while a course for a fall lunch consists of nothing more than pears and Parmigiano cheese. Others, like a black paella with squid and shrimp, are more involved, but the detailed instructions make them accessible to any cook willing to put in the effort, and the results are delicious, never fussy. Taking a stand against the typical cookbook organization from appetizers through desserts, Tanis teaches how to think clearly about conceiving, preparing and enjoying simple but delicious meals. Full-color photos throughout. (Nov.)
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From the Inside Flap
David Tanis might cook in the most famous restaurant in America, but here he is all about keeping meals simple at home.
In this eloquent appeal for good sense in cooking great food, Davis Tanis serves up twenty-four seasonal menus that are simply conceived and simply served on platters, family style. His food bursts with invention and flavor, such as wild salmon with spicy Vietnamese cucumbers to celebrate spring and braised duck with fried ginger for a cool-weather dinner.
Tanis has an elemental, unpretentious finesse with ingredients and a genuine gift for words. Deliciously down-to-earth, his intuitive menus make cooking a pleasure, not a stress whether you're "Feeling Italian" (Steamed Fennel with Red Pepper Oil; Roasted Quail with Grilled Radicchio and Creamy Polenta; Italian Plum Cake), "Slightly All-American" (Sliced Tomatoes with Sea Salt; Grilled Chicken Breasts; Corn, Squash, and Beans with Jalapeno Butter; Blueberry-Blackberry Crumble), or "Too Darned Hot, Alors!" (Provencal Toasts; Melon and Figs with Prosciutto and Mint; Deconstructed Salade Nicoise; Lavender Honey Ice Cream).
"David s recipes are simple and marvelous," says cookbook author Paula Wolfert. "What more can a food lover want?" Tanis shows you how to slow down, pay attention, give ingredients their due, and provide meals that will delight friends and family.
Here, at last, is a cookbook that has nothing to do with celebrity chefdom and everything to do with real life. Cancel the dinner reservations and pick up this book and rediscover the pleasure of cooking at home.