Alice Waters' last cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, made the top of many people's favorite and most-used cookbook lists. Her newest cookbook, The Art of Simple Food II, is sure to follow suit as she continues her crusade to encourage and inspire people to cook at home. This volume take things one step further by highlighting the garden and by natural extension the importance of freshness and the seasonality of ingredients.
• Who wrote it: Alice Waters with Kelsie Kerr and Patricia Curtan
• Who published it: Clarkson Potter
• Number of recipes: 200
• Recipes for right now: Escarole Soup, with Poached Egg; Spicy Indian Cauliflower Stems; Black Mission Figs Roasted with Wild Fennel; Baked Quince with Creme Fraiche; Olive, Pomegranate, and Walnut Relish; Blood Orange and Golden Beet Salad; Chicken Braised with Carrots and Coriander.
• Other highlights: The Art of Simple Food II takes the basic themes of The Art of Simple Food one step further by bringing in the garden. The book is arranged into two parts. Part one, the larger section, is about garden grown ingredients and accompanying recipes. Beginning with Fragrant and Beautiful (herbs) and Tender Leaves (lettuces and salad greens) the book moves on to Hidden Flavor (garlic, onions, etc.), Growing Underground (roots and tubers), Heading Into Winter (Cabbage, Cauliflower, etc.) as well as many chapters to cover most of the fruits and vegetables available.
Each chapter opens with a general description of the subject, instructions on how to grow it, and a list and description of the many types and varieties, followed by recipes. The recipes are written out with the ingredients as a part of the narrative (as opposed to listed individually before the instructions.) The ingredients are bolded so it's easy to scan the recipe beforehand to see what you'll need and then follow along with the narrative when it comes time to cook. (The Joy of Cooking also writes their recipes this way.)
Part two of the book, a much smaller back section, is called Seed to Seed and goes into specifics about gardening. It ends with a Tools and Resources section, a glossary and an index. There really is an enormous amount of information here, both for the garden and the kitchen. I really like having it all in one volume and how it reflects Ms. Waters' mission to keep the path between the garden and the kitchen well-used.
The book is styled simply, with beautiful line drawings of the many herbs, fruits and vegetables by Patricia Curtan. Like many of the Chez Panisse cookbooks, the names of the recipes are printed in red ink and the whole book has a somewhat handmade, letterpress feel. Former Chez Panisse chef Kelsie Kerr is listed as a co-author.
• Who would enjoy this book? Lovers of The Art of Simple Food, gardeners and people hoping to be inspired by gardens, new cooks, experienced cooks, and people who appreciate how delicious simple, straightforward food can be.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Art of Simple Food II by Alice Waters
• Visit the author's website: Chez Panisse
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