Read to Eat

Start the summer with great food stories and recipes worth a little perspiration

Read to Eat

Two Dudes, One Pan: Maximum Flavor from a Minimalist Kitchen

by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo
Clarkson Potter, 240 pp., $24.95 (paper)

Despite the testosterone-pumped, stoner-esque title, this is a well-written, well-organized, and very useful cookbook. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo began "doing the food" at parties while they saved money to pursue classical chef-training in Europe. With a pickup truck, two knives, and two pans, they made a name for themselves as caterers, despite the fact that they were always working with limited time, limited budgets, and almost no equipment. In the competitive Los Angeles market, they became star caterers by word of mouth alone. It suddenly occurred to them that being their own bosses with a spectacularly successful company at age 22 might be just fine without the European training.

Because they were working with limited equipment, the recipes they came up with are simple to make. They just happen to be the kind of recipes normal people need and want: really delicious and creative dishes that are quick and easy and don't involve a lot of clean-up. Perhaps it is their very dudeliness, but if there is an easier way, they take it. Yet flavor is never sacrificed, and the recipes really work. Because these are the recipes Shook and Dotolo used time and again to cater events, only the reliable ones made the cut. You can be sure that if you make one of these dishes, it will turn out.

The buttermilk-sage fried chicken is a great example: Chicken is marinated in buttermilk for two days (during which time you do nothing). Then it is quickly breaded with fresh sage and pan-fried, resulting in a really impressive, tender breast of chicken, savory and flavorful, and it takes about 10 minutes tops. Another perfect example is the seared scallops, shiitake fricassee, and garlicky spinach, all made in one pan. Not only is this cookbook great for weeknights, but the recipes lend themselves perfectly to no-hassle entertaining.

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