Chefs, thank goodness, can’t be arrested for insider trading, so they’re free to share trade secrets and insider tips. And they do so with gourmet abandon in Adam Roberts’ Secrets of the Best Chefs. Adam, who gave up the lucrative lawyer’s life to become a food writer and creator of the popular blog The Amateur Gourmet, spent a year visiting 11 cities, cooking with 50 of the best chefs in America and scoping out how they do what they do. The result is not just a fabulous compilation of recipes, but an approach that gives you access to the wisdom and knowledge that will make you confident in the kitchen and ready to find and trust your own inner chef. At the beginning of every cooking encounter, Adam jots down the essence of each chef’s “Kitchen Know-How,” then adds extra tips for each of the 150 recipes, including Alice Waters’ Farmer’s Market Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette, Curtis Duffy’s Short Ribs Braised in Coconut Milk and Alain Allegretti’s Chocolate Cherry Clafoutis.
ROOTING FOR ROOTS
Winter root veggies seem drab when compared to the bright greens, reds, yellows and stripes of their summer cousins, and they’re often gnarly and inelegant looking. But this vast subterranean kingdom can be a treasure trove of culinary delights that not only taste good but are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. The more you know about these underground wonders, the easier it is to be a happy, seasonally correct locavore—or just a better shopper and cook when the days grow shorter and the cold winds blow. Diane Morgan gets to the root of the matter with Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes. Twenty-eight chapters take you from Andean Tubers to Yucca, with the familiar—parsnips, turnips, beets, carrots—and the exotic—scorzonera, burdock, crosne—in between. Basic use and prep are supplied for each one, as well as its history and lore. The recipes, ranging from appetizers, soups, sides, braises and breakfast fare to pickles and even a few desserts, offer routes to the riches of roots.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Move over, Mediterranean, you’ve got real competition from another ancient, world-renowned cuisine that’s just as wonderfully sensible and sense-pleasing. Chinese cooking can be elegant, complex and daunting. But, like all exalted cuisines, there’s a flip side: the food that ordinary people cook at home without cadres of knife-wielding sous-chefs. Over the centuries, Chinese home cooks have learned to cook and eat in a frugal, healthy way, making vegetables and grains sing with flavor while using meat, poultry and fish sparingly. Now, with Fuchsia Dunlop’s consummate guidance, you too can become an accomplished creator of Chinese home cooking. Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking, her latest, has everything you’ll need—a primer on basic ingredients, including Dunlop’s richly flavored, not-hard-to-find “magic” seasonings, essential tools, prep methods, cooking techniques, menu ideas and an extensive, illustrated glossary. And then come the 150 enticing, definitely doable recipes, with full-color photos, that will inspire you to try an extraordinary range of deliciously different dishes and make them part of your own everyday family fare.