The Anatomy of a Dish by Diane Forley, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Anatomy of a Dish

The Anatomy of a Dish

by Diane Forley

The renowned chef of New York's Verbena restaurant shows how to build a dish—and a menu—from vegetables on up in this innovative cookbook that looks at flavors through a botanical prism.

What do Poached Eggs in Asparagus Nests, Leek and Apple Hash, and Sauteed Scallops with Onion Pan Gravy have in common? Aspargus, leeks, and onions (along withe


The renowned chef of New York's Verbena restaurant shows how to build a dish—and a menu—from vegetables on up in this innovative cookbook that looks at flavors through a botanical prism.

What do Poached Eggs in Asparagus Nests, Leek and Apple Hash, and Sauteed Scallops with Onion Pan Gravy have in common? Aspargus, leeks, and onions (along withe shallots, garlic, and chives) are all part of the botanical family Liliaceae.

Diane Forley's fascination with the properties and groupings of fruits and vegetables—in the garden, in the kitchen, and on the plate—suffuses The Anatomy of a Dish. But this is not a vegetable or vegetarian cookbook. It is a collection of the richly flavorful recipes Forley serves at her restaurant, illuminated by the culinary and botanical explorations that have led to her celebrated cooking style.

Forley, one of America's rising chefs, has arranged her book to reflect her conviction that vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes define sensibility in cooking. Part I, which serves as the book's foundation, looks at vegetables one at a time, and details some of Forley's favoirte ways to prepare them. Cooking techniques are explained and applied to an array of vegetables to form side dishes and starting points fo rmore comlete meals. For example, artichokes are braised, shaped into griddle cakes, baked as gratins, and fried as snack chips; mushrooms are sauteed, pureed, and transformed into Forley's own Worcestershire sauce. A plentitude of notes alongside each recipe offer serving suggestions and menu-building links.

From single vegetables, the book moves on to vegetable combinations in salads, soups and stews, pastas, tarts, souffles, and breads. And then, fish, poultry, and meat are added to create dishes that The New York Times praised for being delicious yet "disarmingly simple."

Seasonal availability of ingredients inspires the recipes in the dessert chapter. These are alluring treates on their own, at any time, but they thoughtfully complement the savory dishes that precede them.

Cooking from this immensely engaging book, you'll come to expect the unexpected and be thrilled by each encounter. For example, you'll learn how plants are classified and marvel at the notion that the potato, eggplant, tomato, petunia, and the tobacco plant have much in common, starting with a five-petaled star-shaped flower. (The hugely toxic belladonna also has the same shaped flower. Is it any wonder that the Old World was reluctant to try these New World fruits and vegetables?)

Cooks who care to broaden their culinary horizons will find this side excursion into the world of botanical family trees as delicious as they'll find Forley's recipes, with their straightforward charm and exceptional soaring flavors.

Editorial Reviews

Diane Forley was only 16 when she became an apprentice at Michel Fitoussi's celebrated Palace Restaurant in New York. Soon after her graduation from Brown University, she began her culinary ascent. Shortly after she opened Verbena in Manhattan, she was hailed as "the spiritual descendant of Alice Waters" and one of America's top new restaurateurs The Anatomy of a Dish demonstrates her mastery of ingredients, her sense that a good meal is built one component at a time. Both the recipes and insights are delicious.

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.12(w) x 11.64(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

Serves 4 to 6

My tomatoless gazpacho, made with cucumbers and tomatillos, is light and tart. Tomatillos, like tomatoes, are members of the Solanaceae family. They are not immature green tomatoes but a different fruit, prized by Mexican cooks for their citrus taste. Less seedy and juicy than tomatoes, tomatillos, also know as husk tomatoes, are available at gourmet markets.

4 cups basil leaves
Kosher salt
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pound tomatillos, husked and washed
6 scallions, white parts only
8 cups peeled chopped cucumbers (about 2 pounds)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Blanch the basil in a pot of boiling salted water. Drain, then refresh the basil in ice water. Squeeze dry.

Combine the vinegar, oil, and 1 cup water in a blender or food processor. Add the basil, then add the tomatillos, scallions, and cucumbers in small batches, pureeing as you go. Add the paprika, cayenne, honey and blend well. Thin the soup if necessary with water, then adjust the seasonings with salt, cayenne, and honey. Chill and serve.

Serves 4 as an entree

2 Italian eggplants, peeled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon umeboshi paste (a tart Japanese plum paste available at Asian markets)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
8 double baby lamb chops
Freshly ground black pepper

In baby lamb chops the "eye" of the meat is a consistent size and is relatively lean. One double chop is approximately the same size as a single mature chop. Larger chops, because they are generally cut thinner, take a little less time to cook. Whichever you prefer, let the meat rest after cooking. This allows the meat juices forced to the surface to settle back toward the center of the meat. New Zealand and Australia produce lovely lamb. Locally raised meat can be even more delicious, so look for it atbutcher shops, gourmet stores, and farmers' markets.

Making the salad.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the eggplants into quarters by splitting them in half crosswise and then lengthwise. Cut each quarter into thin lengths. Toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, season with salt, and place on a baking sheet.

Roast the eggplant, turning once, until soft and golden, about 45 minutes.

Combine the sugar, umeboshi paste, and soy sauce in a large bowl and mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the sesame oil, sesame seeds, ginger, and scallions and mix well. Add the eggplant and mix gently; set aside while you cook the chops.

SautTing the lamb chops.
Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil to each skillet, then add the chops. Brown the lamb on all sides, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, about 7 minutes total cooking time for medium-rare. Transfer the chops to a platter and allow them to rest in a warm place for about 5 minutes.

Serve the lamb chops with the eggplant salad.

Makes 8

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups bread or other high-gluten flour
1 3/4 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
About 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Naan is an East Asian flat bread. It is traditionally baked in a super-hot chimney-shaped oven, although I prefer to use a griddle or grill.

Combine the yeast, sugar, and 1 cup tepid water in a small bowl, stirring to mix. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and stir the yeast mixture into the flour a little at a time, then gradually mix in the yogurt. When the dough begins to form a ball, turn it out onto a floured board. Knead the dough, adding some or all of the remaining cup of flour as necessary, until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Punch the dough down. Divide it into 8 pieces (4 ounces each). Shape each one into a ball. Flatten and stretch each ball out until you have a round about 1/4 inch thick. Oil the dough on both sides.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add one or two of the dough rounds. Cook until crisp and lightly browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip over and cook the remaining side. Serve immediately, brushed with butter or olive oil. Repeat to cook the remaining naan.

Meet the Author

Diane Forley has been described as a "spiritual descendant of Alice Waters" (New York) because she weaves her recipes and knowledge of the botanical world into an innovative approach to cooking. Diane lives and works with her husband, chef Michael Otsuka, and their daughter, Olivia, in New York City. Diane Forley was aided on this project by Catherine Young, a lawyer turned food writer, who abandoned the law to pursue her passion.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >