Have you ever tasted a restaurant dish, and sat back in wonder, flat-out amazed over its intense depth of flavor? Whether it’s a tomato dish that tasted more tomato-y than even the most perfect peak-grown tomato off the vine or the beef dish so boffo meaty it was like tasting beef for the first time again?
Turns out it’s not all about just using the best ingredients. It has even more to do with combining the right ingredients to magnify their shared flavor attributes.
It’s by James Briscione, a former culinary instructor who worked with IBM on its “Chef Watson,” which develops cognitive computing applications to create better ingredient combinations. Briscione also was the first two-time “Chopped” champion. He wrote the book with his wife, Brooke Parkhurst, a former culinary instructor. Together, the couple run Angelena’s Ristorante Italiano in Pensacola, FL.
That’s the name of the new cookbook by Claire Saffitz, a New York-based pastry chef and former Bon Appetit test kitchen on-air personality.
It’s also how I would very much define myself.
Yes, I am one of those people, the kind who wholeheartedly doesn’t think a meal is complete without dessert — even if 20 savory courses preceded it. So, even after a mega feast like on Thanksgiving, I always look forward most to the sweet finale.
“Cranberry-Pomegranate Mousse Pie” is worth that wait, too.
As Saffitz acknowledges in her “Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, after a groaning holiday meal, you don’t necessarily want something especially heavy at the end. Nope, now that is not the time for bread pudding or cheesecake. What you want is something a little lighter, a little brighter, yet still pleasingly indulgent.
This pie is all that.
It’s one of the more than 100 exceptionally detailed recipes in the cookbook, which are imminently doable, and beyond tempting.
You know that perfect eggplant consistency, where it’s so supple, it’s almost like custard?
It’s not always easy to achieve that texture.
But thanks to James Beard Award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, there’s a fool-proof method that will not only render it with that exquisite consistency but give it an edge of smokiness, too. And all without a grill.
Just put the whole eggplant in a 425-degree oven and let it do its thing for 45 minutes or so. It will emerge sublime.
Acheson made sure his two daughters knew how to cook before they went off to college. In this book, of which I received a review copy, he showcases the foundational building blocks that every home-cook ought to master, such as knowing the proper way to cook rice, beans, poach an egg, make vinaigrette, pan-fried fish and roast chicken.
Whether it’s watching him on PBS or thumbing through one of his cookbooks, I never cease to learn something from Jacques Pepin.
A master technician who makes everything look effortless, and a cheerleader who gives the confidence to try any of his recipes handily in your own kitchen, Pepin continues to inspire in his latest cookbook, “Jacques Pépin Quick & Simple” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy.
As the title implies, the book’s 250 recipes are fast and easy, with brief ingredients list. Pepin is not above using frozen pizza dough, canned beans or ready-made sponge cake in some of them, either.
As he states in the introduction, “This book is intended to make your life easier.”
It will, too, with recipes such as “Cream of Pumpkin Soup” that uses canned pumpkin, light cream and curry powder; “Cheese Tart,” made with a frozen pie shell filled with a mixture of eggs, ricotta and Gouda; “Mustard-Broiled Shrimp” that’s coated with honey mustard, dark soy sauce and Sriracha; and “Orange Bavarian Cream” what mimics fancy custard cream but is instead made with instant pudding mix, half-and-half, and melted vanilla ice cream.