Holiday Cookbook Roundup
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolutionby Alice Waters
Clarkson Potter, 405 pp., $35
I have tremendous respect for Alice Waters' many accomplishments and her undeniable contributions to American gastronomy. I've never been a big fan of her Chez Panisse cookbooks, however, because it didn't seem possible to re-create Chez Panisse dishes at home in Central Texas without Waters' luxurious Northern California larder from which to cook. Waters' newest cookbook seems designed to address that very issue. The Art of Simple Food is a basic primer written specifically for home cooks. Along with her well-documented philosophies about the importance of family dining, gardening, and support for sustainable agriculture, the author presents fundamental cooking practices and basic foundation recipes that are designed to make the most of quality ingredients. Waters offers recipes for essential sauces, suggestions and variations for basic salads, techniques for building robust flavors in soups, methods for making the most of rice dishes, fresh fruit desserts, and simple, mouthwatering entrées. This book obviously comes directly from Waters' heart – her supportive, encouraging tone could convince even the most apprehensive novice cooks that they have the potential to prepare delicious family meals. This would make a great "first cookbook" gift as well as a welcome addition to an established cookbook collection.