Here's a bit of trivia: What book pushed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince off the bestseller list in England in 2005? Don't worry, I didn't have a clue either, but it sure piqued my curiosity when I found out that a cookbook had done the dirty deed. Now that book, Roast Chicken and Other Stories, has finally made its way across the pond so we Yanks can share author Simon Hopkinson's recipes, knowledge and sage advice. A chef and noted food writer, Hopkinson offers his offbeat, charmingly opinionated take on cooking as a craft, a craft founded on good taste and common sense. He's arranged his culinary thoughts alphabetically, starting with anchovy and ending with veal, with lamb and leeks, saffron and squab, cilantro, crab and cream among the 40 chosen categories. Each gets a chatty, informative introduction (the stories referred to in the title) and an array of recipes starring that particular ingredient in dishes culled from his own repertoire and those of his favorite chefs. You'll find the eponymous roast chicken, of course; fabulous spiced eggplant salad, a favorite of the famed Elizabeth David; silky cilantro and coconut soup; creamy-crisp parmesan fritters and the richest little pot of chocolate you will ever eat. The Franco-Brit bits admiration for sweetbreads, kidneys, smoked haddock (finnan haddie here) and rabbit are a bit more unusual: You may not want to indulge, but it's great fun for armchair eating.

comments powered by Disqus