Suzanne Goin’s first cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, is one of my all-time favorites; I’ve been hoping for a follow-up since it was published in 2005. Here at last, and more than worth the wait, is The A.O.C. Cookbook. Goin, a true omnivore and true believer in seasonal and local cooking, is boldly, brilliantly creative, combining ingredients, layering and reinforcing flavors so that the sum of the dish is greater than its parts (some of the “parts” are divine by themselves). This is serious, challenging cooking, not dumbed-down, not simplified. A dish like Pork Confit with Caramelized Apples and Cabbage in Red Wine takes planning and time to accomplish. Read the more than 100 recipes carefully, savor the process, give yourself to Goin and reap the fantastic rewards.
The Gramercy Tavern, a star in Danny Meyer’s gem-studded restaurant empire, serves fabulous food in a fabulous setting. I go whenever I can to the big, bustling bar—or to the gracious dining room, if someone else is picking up the bill. Finally, we have The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook, with 125 elegant, seasonally arranged recipes presented by its executive chef-partner Michael Anthony, plus an intimate history by Meyer, 200 enticing photographs and even stories from staff members. With care and the best fresh ingredients, you can make most of these recipes at home, or you can just read through and soak it up. It’s almost as good as being there.
“Serenity” isn’t a word usually associated with cooking or cookbooks, but it’s the word and the feeling that One Good Dish, David Tanis’ latest, elicits. Add simplicity and a minimalist’s less-is-more approach, and you’ll be in Tanis mode, ready to quietly revel in his eclectic collection of favorite dishes meant to be eaten at any time of day, alone or with friends. The 100 recipes are for nibbles, creations based on bread (fresh, aging, sliced, diced and crumbled), homemade condiments, soups and “soupy” dishes served in bowls, greens (steamed, braised and wilted), an array of dishes cooked in a hot cast-iron skillet, small sweets and a few “remarkable” drinks. A pleasure and a delight.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Magnifique, marvelous! Daniel Boulud’s Daniel: My French Cuisine is the pièce de résistance of this year’s crop of grand cookbooks, a big, beautiful package, filled with luscious photos. First and foremost come the best recipes from Daniel, Boulud’s famed New York restaurant, with complex preparations inspired by classic French dishes and given a Boulud twist, like White Truffle Veal Blanquette. These are dishes more suited to armchair savoring than for attempting in your kitchen. He does include four “soulful” regional menus specially adapted for home cooks, a bit of a culinary stretch for mere mortals, but doable. In between is a fabulous piece by Bill Buford about preparing “extreme” versions of iconic French recipes with Daniel and Co. A gourmet gift for sure.