The Barnes & Noble Review
Since the mid-1970s, Alice Waters and her cooks at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, have been celebrated for their simple yet sophisticated approach to food, seeking out the finest organic fruits and vegetables for maximum flavor.
All these graces are on display in their excellent new cookbook, which celebrates fruit in every part of the menu, in salads and main dishes, beverages and desserts, pickles and preserves. The book is organized alphabetically and illustrated like the companion volume, Chez Panisse Vegetables, with 50 handsome four-color relief prints by Patricia Curtan. Waters and the Chez Panisse cooks provide 200 recipes for 38 fruits and their varieties, along with advice on choosing, storing, and cooking. Yes, there are recipes for apples, lemons, peaches, and plums, and also harder-to-find fruits like loquats, mulberries, gooseberries, sour cherries, and currants.
Some of the recipes are more formal, like Spit-Roasted Pork with Onion and Apple Marmalade and Grilled Cured Duck Breast with Pickled Peaches. Others -- Grapes Roasted in a Wooden Oven, or Stuffed Dates, Mango with Sauternes, Melon Gelato, and Moroccan Preserved Lemons -- are more informal; in fact, they read less like a recipe and more like the expression of a simple, great idea. I was also happy to see a handful of recipes for jams and jellies made in small quantities.
Waters and the Chez Panisse chefs do not burden the reader with many cross-references, because they think you can figure out for yourself that blackberries can replace boysenberries, that peaches can stand in for nectarines. Go to the farmer's market, talk to the produce manager at your market, they urge. If you concentrate your efforts on picking locally organic fruit at its peak, they contend, whatever you cook will be wonderful.
The back of the book helpfully contains the basic Chez Panisse recipes for Puff Pastry, Galette Dough, Pâte Sucrée, Sponge Cake, and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, and all the other dessert things that go well with fruit.
Chez Panisse is th single best restaurant in the United States.
Chez Panisse...[is] the most influential American restaurant of the past generation...In the...Waters way of cooking, flavor comes to the fore and technique recedes.
The New Yorker
The eighth Chez Panisse cookbook, which features sweet and savory dishes that use fruit, follows what has become acclaimed chef Alice Waters's patented style: a mix of rustic dishes, many exhibiting Italian and French influence, that highlight the best possible produce. Recipes are organized by fruit, and each chapter begins with a mini-essay on varieties and growing conditions, and often sounds the biodiversity alarm, as when Waters opines, "How sad, then, that well over 90 percent of the apples sold in this country belong to one of only fifteen of those seven thousand varieties." Desserts showcase flavors that may be slightly unfamiliar, either because they use unusual varieties (Caramelized Red Banana Tartlets) or different versions of a common fruit, as with Fig Cookies that are a haute substitute for Fig Newtons and use fresh figs rather than dried. Savory dishes such as Middle Eastern-Style Lamb Stew with Dried Apricots and a tasty assembly of spices skew more traditional. Some of the most intriguing recipes are the simplest, such as Pickled Cherries and Tea-Poached Prunes. At times, Waters's specificity can be exasperating. Will Cr pes Suzette with Pixie Tangerine Sherbet be just as good if the sherbet is made with some other variety of tangerine? Still, it's hard to find fault with a book wide-ranging and inventive enough to comfortably encompass Judy's Deep-Fried Lemon and Artichokes, Spring Fruit Compote with Kiwifruit Sherbet and Coconut Meringue, and a tart Vin de Pamplemousse ap ritif. (May) Forecast: As always, Waters's combination of serious writing and creative recipes will have cooks heading to the kitchen, and cookbook buyers heading to the stores. This book sticks to the tried-and-true Chez Panisse formula, which shows no signs of wearing out. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The companion toChez Panisse Vegetables, this is another wonderful book from Waters and crew (Alan Tangren, now the pastry chef, was the restaurant's "forager" for many years, responsible for buying produce and other ingredients from local purveyors and growers). It is invaluable both as a reference and a cookbook and features unsually lyrical writing. The fruits are organized alphabetically, and each entry provides information on seasons, buying, storing, preparing, and different varieties. There are savory recipes as well as desserts, from Spit-Roasted Pork with Apple Marmalade and Green Apple Sherbet to Grilled Duck Breast with Seville Orange Sauce and Blood Orange Tartlets to Grilled Quail with Pomegranates and Pomegranate Granita. The attractive, understated design and lovely full-color linocuts add to the book's appeal. Essential. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Pork Loin Stuffed with Wild Plums and Rosemary
Once again, we advise you to avoid eating pork unless you can find a local certified organic farmer who takes care of his hogs the right way.
1 1/2pounds wild plums or Santa Rosa plums
1 bunch rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons sweet wine (Beaumes-de-Venise and port are good choices)
1/2 cup water Salt and pepper
1 standing 6-rib pork loin, chine bone removed
The plums can be prepared a day in advance. Split the plums in half and remove the pits. Cut the halves into small wedges. Peel and chop the shallots fine. Strip enough rosemary leaves off the stems to make a scant 1/2 teaspoon, chopped.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the shallots and the rosemary, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, until wilted. Add the brandy and flame. Add the sweet wine, bring to a boil, add the plums, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the water and mash the plums with a potato masher or whisk. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, the grated zest of 1/4 lemon, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook at a simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring often to keep the plum paste from sticking and burning. Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Let cool completely before stuffing the pork loin.
To stuff the loin, take a sharp knife and cut along the rib bones to separate them from meat. Cut almost all the way down, leaving only 1 inch of the loin attached to the bones. Make a lengthwise pocket for the stuffing, cutting halfway into the roast, where the meat has beenexposed from the bones. Liberally season the roast all over with salt and pepper; this will give it a delicious crust. Season the inside of the pocket and stuff it with the plum paste. Press the pocket closed. Slice the second lemon as thin as you can. Arrange the lemon slices and rosemary sprigs between the bones and the meat. Gently push the roast back into its original shape. Using cotton twine, tie up the roast with one tie between each rib. Now the loin is stuffed with the plums in the middle and the lemon and rosemary between the ribs and the meat. It can be roasted now or covered and refrigerated for up to a day.
If the loin has been refrigerated, take it out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before roasting. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Put the loin in a roasting pan, bone side down, and roast for about 1 1/2 hours, until an internal temperature of 130°F. is reached. Start checking the temperature with an instant-read thermometer after an hour, but be sure to insert the thermometer into the meat, avoiding the line of stuffing. When the roast is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes in a warm place. Remove the twine, carve into individual chops, and serve.
Two 1 -pint baskets strawberries (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Optional: A few drops of lemon juice or kirsch
Rinse, dry, and hull the strawberries. Purée them with the water and sugar. Taste and adjust the flavor with a few drops of lemon or kirsch if needed. Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream maker.
Makes about 1 quart.
Chez Panisse Fruit. Copyright © by Alice Waters. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.