In the green kitchen Techniques to learn by heart

Alice Waters

Book - 2010

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 641.563/Waters Checked In
New York : Clarkson Potter 2010.
Main Author
Alice Waters (-)
1st ed
Item Description
"In the Green Kitchen presents her essential cooking techniques to be learned by heart, plus more than 50 recipes -- for delicious, fresh, local, and seasonal meals -- from Alice and her friends"--P. [4] of cover.
Physical Description
151 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 26 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

It turns out America didn't plunge into the Greater-Than-Great Depression that clouded last summer, but the jams and pickles we were spooked into putting up (and giving as budget-conscious gifts) seem to have reawakened the country's can-do spirit. When a fashion-magazine writer I used to know started a home-canning blog called Saving the Season, I knew homesteader chic had come out of the larder. It's hard to be cynical about homemade jelly. And everyone likes to save money. These are the sentiments publishers are hoping will still exist a year after they put this summer's cookbooks into motion. Instead of trotting out the usual spate of celebrity grillers, this season's bookshelf instructs us to get back to basics, preferably those practiced by our great-grandmothers. I'm sure home-butchery manuals will be ready by the fall, complete with brownpaper dust covers. In the meantime, we'll be making jams and syrups from foraged berries, churning butter and clotting cream, griddling our own English muffins, mastering the fundamentals of gadgetless cooking and turning out meatballs that would make anyone's nonna proud. Even celebrity chefs have kicked it down 20 notches. When Emeril Lagasse is pushing a farm-to-fork book, you know it's Michael Pollan's world. We just cook in it. Getting back to basics means you have to be good at them in the first place. That was Alice Waters's idea during Slow Food Nation almost two years ago. For that event, she set up the Green Kitchen, a demonstration studio where America's great chefs (and cooks) taught the building blocks of cooking. Each segment was put online so the masses could tie a roast with Paul Bertolli, boil pasta with Lidia Bastianich, roast a chicken with Thomas Keller and so on, thereby alleviating any remaining fear of cooking simple meals with fresh ingredients. The resulting book, IN THE GREEN KITCHEN: Techniques to Learn by Heart (Clarkson Potter, $28), is an odd hybrid that requires downshifting to appreciate. There are recipes, but it's not a cookbook. You could stitch together a meal from the 26 lesson sections, serving Green Goddess salad made by Waters's daughter, Fanny Singer; Bertolli's roast leg of lamb; and David Tanis's white beans with garlic and herbs. (But wait, are those their recipes or Waters's? Her introduction says that the book is in her voice, and that she's taken liberties with the cooks' recipes and added her own. The line isn't clear.) There are instructions, but this isn't a manual. Rather, it's an interesting entry point for, say, the food-trending college graduate or the colleague who zaps Lean Cuisine at lunch while eyeing your leftover asparagus risotto - or even seasoned cooks who'd like to clear their counters of gadgets and re-enter a life where the salad is tossed by hand (better to feel the vinaigrette distribution), the biscuits are made with homemade baking powder (beyond easy) and all the mayonnaises are above average. In Alice's world, the Slow Food revolution begins at home. The British and the Irish would also like to help us return to a pre-Cuisinart connection with our food. July will see the publication of two volumes from the handbook series from the cult British chef Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall, who has inspired many nose-to-tailgaters with his River Cottage books. These compact yet comprehensive hardcover volumes, part of a series written by experts in the River Cottage fold, inspire and instruct with their English charm, deploying a chatty hand-holding that nudges you through the process. (For Type-A do-it-yourselfers, the books also include extra-credit projects, like building a clay bread oven. Game on.) The head River Cottage baker, Daniel Stevens, who put together THE RIVER COTTAGE BREAD HANDBOOK (Ten Speed Press, $22), spends over 40 pages on mastering the basic loaf. His kneading explanation was so clear I didn't need to constantly refer to the photos; and it taught me some new tricks. But said loaf wasn't as good as the perfect English muffins I puffed up the next morning from the same dough - the kind of brilliant success that has you wondering who you can call at 8 a.m. to boast. (Thank goodness for Twitter.) This wide-ranging book inspires exploration, and not just because I'll soon be able to slather my warm Scottish oatcakes, roti and even bagels with my own jam, thanks to THE RIVER COTTAGE PRESERVES HANDBOOK (Ten Speed Press, $22). Here Pam Corbin, who runs the Preserving Days at River Cottage, explains the fundamentals of jam, jelly, chutney, cordials, pickles, sauces and more in a demystifying manner. And jams can mystify. Americans will be able to read about hedgerow jelly only as armchair tourism, but recipes for hearty ale chutney, spring rhubarb relish and Hugh's prizewinning raspberry fridge jam are within delicious reach. Darina Allen has been called both the Alice Waters and the Julia Child of Ireland. For the last 42 years, her restaurant and cooking school at Ballymaloe House in County Cork have championed food served directly from the garden. (Don't get her started on raising chickens. You simply must!) In fact, chickens are what tipped her off to the growing hunger among today's cooks to learn what their grandmothers never taught them. Her Forgotten Skills classes on "How to Keep a Few Chickens in the Garden" and "How to Make Butter, Yogurt and Simple Cheese" were packed with attentive students, leading to the publication of FORGOTTEN SKILLS OF COOKING (Kyle Books, $40). As the doorstopper's subtitle, "The Time-Honored Ways Are the Best: Over 700 Recipes Show You Why," makes clear, knowing how to kill and dress a chicken (or wood pigeon), forage for nettles, make butter and cheese, put up gooseberry and elderflower jam and render duck fat is the key to sustainable happiness. Her brief but inspiring how-to sections are what make this book such a keeper; in contrast, many of the recipes, which are retreads from her 16 previous books, can feel out of place. If you've been reading about how to cure prosciutto (less than a page - good luck!), a recipe for scallops Mornay is a bit of a disconnect But her recipes for Irish classics - shepherd's pie, soda bread, homemade sausages - are undoubtedly seductive. Really, you just want to linger in Allen's homemade world for as long as possible, sipping black-currant-leaf lemonade before wandering from the 100-acre garden to the smokehouse to check on your mussels and hogget. Alfred A. Knopf, which is riding the second coming of Julia Child, smartly dug into its backlist for books worth reviving and found one that feeds the current interest in gardening. (They had already revived Edna Lewis's "Taste of Country Cooking," the original seasonal menu cookbook, circa 1976, for its 30th anniversary.) THE VICTORY GARDEN COOKBOOK (Knopf, paper, $37.95), a 1982 relic by Marian Morash, is that rare valuable piece of kitsch, the kind of book you hope to find while trolling yard sales. For those under 40, "The Victory Garden" was a PBS show produced by Russell Morash, an avid gardener who had produced Child's show since 1963. His wife, Marian, was the executive chef on one of Child's later programs. The questions she fielded from "Victory Garden" viewers about what to do with all those zucchini grew into a segment, then a cookbook with over 800 recipes. Knopf didn't change a thing: not the typeface, not the stir-fry Morash is making on the cover. While some of the recipes don't hold up (this summer there might be competitive-cooking parties featuring updates on dishes like rutabaga roulade, sweet potato-lime chiffon pie and squash pudding ring), the book is a welcome manual for gardeners and farmers'-marketers. Alphabetically arranged by vegetable, "The Victory Garden Cookbook" includes tips on planting and harvesting; information boxes on yields, storage and preserving; and cooking hints, including microwaving instructions and ideas for leftovers. There are also tips on marketing for nongardeners and simple ways to sass up each veggie, usually involving a buttery French sauce. (Olive-oil mania was still a few years off.) Martha Stewart hit the scene with her glossy "Entertaining" book that same year, but Morash's only aspiration is that the asparagus plants start producing by the third spring. Her pleasure in nature's bounty, combined with her earnest enthusiasm for new-fangled gourmet cookery, makes "The Victory Garden Cookbook" feel like a "Joy of Cooking" for the '80s Cambridge set - that is, perfect for our times. If only each copy came with a Volvo 240 wagon. Sautéed whole peppers, Cal Peternell's recipe from "In the Green Kitchen." Simon Hopkinson, the former chef of London's Bibendum restaurant and author of the popular "Roast Chicken and Other Stories," is awfully keen on vegetables too. In THE VEGETARIAN OPTION (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95), this self-professed meat-lover takes a sophisticated tack that - who knows? - could look silly in 40 years. Today, his veggie love is contagious. Part of it stems from his enthusiastic introductions and chummy headnotes. ("It is unusually diverting," he writes of asparagus with olive oil and blood orange butter sauce.) The dishes incorporate numerous cuisines - French, Italian, Greek, Indian - and modes of attack, from a dead-simple fennel salad with Pernod to a more involved tomato jelly layered with herbed goat cheese. There are French sauces like Mornay and Courchamps (both great) and other wicked things to do with cheese and cream. (After all, what vegetable isn't better gratinéed?) The idea for this book came to Hopkinson after he threw together a zucchini and bean dish from leftovers in seven minutes and ate it standing in the kitchen. But the recipes he shares would be welcome in any company. Mario Batali goes flexitarian for his new book of recipes, derived from the vegetable-driven antipasti, pastas and pizzas served at his Otto Pizzeria Enoteca in Manhattan. In his befuddling introduction to MOLTO GUSTO: Easy Italian Cooking at Home (Ecco/HarperCollins, $29.99), Batali writes, "I think that what you will note when dining on the following group of recipes is a kind of happy passing sense of content and fullness not associated with the consumption of a huge steak or chop." (As an editor and journalist, I have a passing sense of content every day, though not always a happy one.) With "Molto Gusto," Batali steers away from his dabblings with Nascar and Gwyneth Paltrow, craftily trying to simultaneously regain foodie cred and lure a quick-cook audience. Many of the recipes are short, with only four or five ingredients. But his co-author, Mark Ladner, the executive chef at Del Posto and an underappreciated star of the New York restaurant scene, helps make sure they're not just simple but also satisfying, even interesting, to people who watch the Food Network only while on JetBlue. Recipes for spring peas with mint and red-wine vinaigrette; shaved sunchokes with walnut gremolata; broccoli-rabe pesto with penne; and linguine with lemon are all easy without tasting like college food, or feeling like an Americanized "River Cafe Easy." Some recipes are almost insultingly simple - pasta with butter; pasta with garlic and oil - while others require expensive ingredients: turnips braised in Chianti, pastas dressed with caviar or truffles. But the pizza-crust technique is interesting. Since Otto couldn't install the ventilation required for a wood-burning oven, crusts are par-baked on a griddle, then topped and finished under the broiler to order. It works well at home, and extra crusts can be frozen for last-minute meals. Of the toppings offered - from margherita to pepperoni, fennel and bottarga to funghi and Taleggio - I found the children's pies more fun: meatballs, guanciale and chickpeas, cauliflower.... Mario and Mark: you pulled it off. Batali became a rock-star chef by pushing modern Italian food to the three-star level. The Queens Village-raised cooks and restaurateurs Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli have made their name in Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan for their stoner-dude take on Italian classics (bro-talian?). Both their Frankies Spuntino locations are packed nightly, as hipster daters and hipster parents queue for the Franks' lighter versions of meatballs, antipasti, pasta and market salads while listening to Neil Young and the Dead. Peter Meehan (who writes a blog column that I edit for T Magazine) channels the Franks' laid-back approach -albeit one the duo acquired after cooking in fancy-pants French restaurants - for THE FRANKIES SPUNTINO KITCHEN COMPANION AND COOKING MANUAL (Artisan, $24.95). It's not your usual cookbook in any way. With its gilded, faux-leather cover and olde-tyme illustrations, the book looks more like a 19th-century guide to herbs and edible mushrooms. According to the preface, it's aimed at that 20-something guy who realizes he needs to start cooking at home, but doesn't know where to begin. So the Franks walk him - and us - through stocking the pantry, buying basic equipment and putting together an antipasto plate. But the "Companion" is also a greatest-hits collection of the restaurant's dishes, none of which turn out to be intimidating. Everything I made from the book, from a salad of celery root, fennel, parsley and red onion to sweet-potato ravioli in cheese broth; from meatballs with raisins and pine nuts to wine-stewed prunes with mascarpone, was surprisingly easy and just as delicious as what I've eaten at the restaurants. I also took to their preference for using white pepper and pecorino Romano. And who doesn't love a book that, while exploring the intricacies of pasta-making, also tells you just to use wonton wrappers for the ravioli? It totally worked, dudes. Rick Bayless is one of the rare celebrity chefs who can own multiple restaurants, appear on TV, sell frozen pizzas and not seem like a jerky sellout. Maybe that's because the man who has done so much to change Americans' ideas about Mexican food with his Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco restaurants in Chicago isn't afraid to geek out on his research. Or maybe it's because he sounds exactly like Ned Flanders on "The Simpsons"? His new book, FIESTA AT RICK'S: Fabulous Food for Great Times With Friends (Norton, $35, available in early July), written with his wife, Deann, brings us the regional-food nerd at his best. The book loosely packages recipes around fiestas, from a luxury guacamole and cocktail party for 12 to classic mole for 24, complete with game-plan checklists. If you don't have a 32-inch fireproof paella pan (or 30 friends), you can pick recipes at random and scale them down for more intimate meals - though you never know when you might need to make 27 margaritas. While buyers of this book might not have heard of Diana Kennedy, acolytes of her serious regional Mexican cookbooks would not be dismayed by Bayless's recipes, like guacamole with roast pumpkin seeds and grilled Chiapas-style chili-roasted pork. Sure, there are "fun" drinks, and almond butter and apricots sneak into a guac, but Bayless also stealthily gets us to "pickle" chicken to make Yucatan-style tostadas, his take on a street-food classic. The hardest thing about using this book isn't finding the ingredients (today, practically every small town has a great Mexican grocery), it's keeping yourself from eating everything before the guests arrive. Ethnic street food is having a moment, but dessert will never go out of style. Bill Yosses, the White House pastry chef who made his name at Bouley in the '90s, knows this well. His new cookbook, THE PERFECT FINISH: Special Desserts for Every Occasion (Norton, $35), written with Melissa Clark, the author of the Good Appetite column in The New York Times, passes my first test for a cookbook, which is: Does it make me daydream about the dinner party (or brunch) at which I'll serve these recipes? In this case, the "yes!" came from the retro-fabulous Bouley banana-chocolate tart, which derives its cleverness from fruit caramelized with lime juice. Or maybe it was the crème-fraîche pancakes, the chocolate-caramel tart with sea salt or the chocolate-chunk cookies goosed with Nutella. For Yosses and Clark, "Every Occasion" includes brunch, holidays, dinner parties, birthdays and any other sort of celebration. Their useful tips - use a wooden spoon to fold fruit into cake batter, put a dab of honey or corn syrup under a cake that's being transported so it sticks to the plate - make cooking from this book a reassuring experience, like having a fairy godmother in the kitchen. I hope the Obama girls are taking notes. Given the first family's leanings toward healthier food, they might want to get a copy of GOOD TO THE GRAIN: Baking With Whole-Grain Flours (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95). Kim Boyce worked in the pastry departments at Spago and Campanile in Los Angeles before leaving to raise her children. Her epiphany? If you're going to have all that butter and sugar, you might as well use healthy flour. Teff? Spelt? Kamut? Why not? What's not to love about coppery rye pretzels, buckwheat scones filled with intoxicating fig butter or rich multigrain popovers? Some recipes can't avoid the health-food-store association, like quinoa porridge (get over it: it's delicious), but the whole feels modern and tasteful. Lovely and inventive, Boyce's book is more Martha than Moose wood. If making simple things from scratch really is the key to happiness, with books like these, we all win. ON THE WEB: 20 MORE COOKBOOKS. Still in need of inspiration? Consult our annotated list at Christine Muhlke is the food editor of The New York Times Magazine.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [June 6, 2010]
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Waters, restaurateur and chef extraordinaire, showcases basic cooking techniques every cook can and should master along with recipes using each method in this slim and attractive book. Derived from a Slow Food Nation event she helped organize, where notable chefs and foodies provided demonstrations on foundational procedures, Waters highlights a set of techniques that are universal to all cuisines. She covers the most basic of the basics, from stocking the pantry and washing lettuce to boiling pasta and wilting greens. In typical Waters fashion, recipes showcase just a few simple ingredients, allowing the natural flavors of the food to shine. Since dishes were chosen to highlight process, the result is a somewhat eclectic grouping of recipes, including pesto; spaghettini with garlic, parsley, and olive oil; dirty rice; Irish soda bread; and apple galette. She also covers peeling tomatoes, skinning peppers, roasting vegetables, and roasting and carving chicken. Throughout are color photographs of demonstrators from the event including Lidia Bastianich, Traci Des Jardins, Dan Barber, and David Chang, among others. Ideal for the cooking novice, this gem of a book captures the expertise of world-class chefs in an accessible, straightforward manner. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Waters brought over 30 chefs interested in food and a sustainable future to her Slow Food Nation in San Francisco in 2008. They demonstrated simple, yet essential cooking techniques. This spin-off of that event offers each technique, followed by the chef's recipe. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

David Chang's Salt & Sugar Pickles 4 servings David makes these pickles to be enjoyed right after seasoning, while they are still vibrant and crunchy.   3 very large radishes 2 thin daikon radishes 2 thin-skinned cucumbers with few seeds 2 pounds seedless watermelon 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 teaspoon sugar   Prepare the vegetables and fruit and arrange in separate bowls; there should be about 1 1/2 cups of each kind. Halve the radishes and slice into thin wedges. Cut the daikon radishes crosswise into slices about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the cucumbers crosswise into slices about 1/4; inch thick. Remove the rind of the watermelon and cut the flesh into slices 1/3 inch thick and then into 2-inch wedges. In a small bowl, combine the salt and sugar, and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture over each vegetable and the watermelon and toss. Let the pickles stand for 5 to 10 minutes, arrange separately on a platter, and serve immediately. Excerpted from In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart by Alice Waters All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.