My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking

A collection of cookbook gift ideas for 2011

Mrs. Santa's Book Bag

My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking

by John Besh (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 272 pp., $35)

New Orleans chef/restaurateur John Besh has followed up his award-winning My New Orleans with a book dedicated to home cooking, and he definitely has another winner on his hands. Besh is a devoted family man, and the book is lushly illustrated with photos of the Besh clan in the kitchen, at the dinner table, entertaining friends, and cooking outdoors at a hunting and fishing camp. The photos are the first clue that this is not a ridiculously complex cookbook with recipes calling for esoteric ingredients and an entire brigade of prep cooks; it's a work created to actually encourage home cooking, and that it does. The first chapter sets the tone, providing descriptions of the essential pantry items necessary to execute the dishes in the book, followed by master recipes such as Risotto of Almost Anything, Creamy Any Vegetable Soup, Simple Meat Ragout for Any Pasta, and Warm Any Fruit Crumble, designed to provide any home cook with confidence and success.

Besh continues with chapters on Sunday Supper (roasts of lamb, pork, and beef with rubs, pan sauces, and hearty side dishes), Dinner From a Cast Iron Pot (coq au vin, braised short ribs, pork and sausage jambalaya, slow-cooked venison), School Nights (cauliflower mac and cheese, heat-and-serve chili, sloppy joe sliders, Vietnamese noodle soup), Breakfast With My Boys (a very instructive chapter on how to cook eggs, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, and bird's nest potatoes), How To Cook a Fish, Barbe­cue Wisdom, and Jazz Brunch, a chapter on entertaining. It's abundantly clear from both the recipes and the photos that the seasonal, farm-to-table aesthetic Besh's restaurants are known for really begins at home. He encourages readers to shop at farmers' markets and to use the freshest seasonal ingredients when cooking for the family. This is a book to inspire readers to experience the joys of home cooking and the pleasures of the family table – from the Besh family to yours.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

gift ideas, Home Cooking, Risotto, Soup, Pasta, Barbecue, Fish, John Besh, My Family Table, 2011 Gift Guide

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