- Hardcover: 504 pages
- Publisher: WW Norton (Sept. 24 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393020436
- ISBN-13: 978-0393020434
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 4.6 x 26.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium Of Recipes And Cooking Lessons From San Francisco's Hardcover – Sep 24 2002
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Judy Rodgers, chef-owner of San Francisco's Zuni Cafe, has produced a true classic with The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. This book gives the cook and the reader two accessible temptations: to read from cover to cover, and to cook from cover to cover. One of the great voices in food writing today, Judy Rodgers truly stands shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the master food writers who have preceded and influenced her. Her writing is as delicious as the famous Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, as simple and elegant as the Zuni Cafe Caesar Salad.
While firmly anchored in the food sentiments of California, Rodgers explores the honest cuisine généreuse of France, Tuscany, Umbria, Sicily, Catalonia, and Greece. Her chapter "Small Dishes to Start a Meal" runs to 65 pages! Look for her Lentil-Sweet Red Pepper Soup with Cumin and Black Pepper, her Citrus Risotto, and her Tomato Summer Pudding. Be sure to try Short Ribs Braised in Chimay Ale, and Rabbit with Marsala and Prune-Plums. Chapters are devoted to eggs, starchy dishes, sausage and charcuterie, and the cheese course; you'll also find all the basic chapters one might expect. Throughout, Gerald Asher provides insight into matching wines with foods.
Rodgers's natural instinct is to share and to teach, and the instructional material in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook is like a deep-tissue massage, improving any cook's posture and performance. Rodgers's fine book invites both the novice and the experienced cook to delve deep into the heart of real food and real cooking. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
Rodgers, chef-owner of the Zuni Cafe, cooks like a dream and writes like one, too. Both an extended tutorial and an autobiography in recipes, the book opens with a fascinating account of her formative experiences as a 16-year-old in Roanne, France, where she spent a year at a three-star restaurant taking reams of notes and occasionally peeling vegetables. The introduction is followed by a series of brief, thoughtful essays on the practice of cooking. While readers in the market for a few quick supper ideas might greet so much preamble with impatience not until the eighth chapter does she get around to some recipes most will appreciate her insistence on principles like "What to Think About Before You Start" and "Finding Flavor and Balance." In stunning detail, she explains how to salt a cod and cure a rabbit and brine a fowl and stuff a sausage. One would not be surprised to turn a page and find a description of how to slaughter a sheep. The book includes the recipes that have made her reputation, such as the Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, plus other fare from appetizers through dessert like Oxtails Braised in Red Wine and Shrimp Cooked in Romesco with Wilted Spinach. Unlike many chefs who style themselves as creative forces, Rodgers has a deep sense of how, as she puts it, "the simplest dish can recall a community of ideas and people." Rodgers's cookbook embodies that ideal beautifully.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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This book won two James Beard awards and Rodgers garnered a third Beard Award for best chef last year, making it a true hat trick for Rodgers and the Zuni Café. From what I have seen in this book, it earned every bit of recognition it has garnered.
The only recent American book I know which is comparable to this book in the quality of its lessons is 'Jeremiah Tower Cooks'. This book succeeds at an even higher level than Tower since the older writer has some strong opinions on some not entirely universally held opinions. Tower redeems himself by making his book just that much more engaging by so energetically endorsing these controversial opinions.
Rodgers engages in no controversy. Her lessons in cooking follow the straight and narrow of French technique mellowed by her beautifully plain doctrines about using simple equipment. Before I get too far, I must warn the reader that what people like Rodgers and Colicchio mean by simple is much different from what the fast cooking maestros such as Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, and Ann Byrn mean. Rodgers and Colicchio are talking about simplicity within the world of haute cuisine as defined by Richard Olney in 'Simple French Food'. Basically, simple to this school means using well-understood techniques without excessive or overly architectural ornament. This style still requires many years of training to become familiar with one's materials and techniques.
There is at least one pleasantly surprising joining of opinions between the haute cuisine Rodgers and the English popular food writer Nigella Lawson. Both make the point, that to really know your materials and procedures, it is essential that you repeat the same few dishes rather than doing something different every time you turn on the range. While Lawson uses this principle to recommend a list of recipes she considers important to master by repetition; Rodgers gives a more methodological approach by advising us how to make little variations in one's practice to teach oneself the variations in your prima materia.
The instructions and explanations on stock making alone are worth the price of the book. Here, Rodgers is following Olney's lead by explaining why you do things this way rather than that way. The explanations are leavened by anecdotes on Rodgers experiences in training and in her kitchen at Zuni. Especially delightful is the tale of a pig's head being used to make a pork stock. Among the stories are some experiences in the kitchen of the Troigros brothers in France. These legendary chefs are often mentioned together with other modern greats of the French kitchen. This is the first look I have seen into the basis of their renown.
Among the very many lessons about basic cooking techniques, the most dramatic and most useful is in the application of salt to food. While Food Network junkies may not find this lesson too dramatic, it does give one a new respect for this most simple of culinary techniques.
Every chapter in the book dishes out not only Zuni Café recipes, but also a California gold mine of techniques and explanations on why these techniques work. Even the single page on vinaigrettes offers ucommon wisdom on a very common subject, such as the relevance of the dish to be dressed on the ratio of oil to acid in the vinegrette. The star of the latter portion of the book is 'A Lesson in Sausage Making', comparable to some of the more lovingly detailed chapters in Bertolli's 'Cooking by Hand'.
This book should be on every foodie's short list of must reads. Unlike excellent books on various methods and materials, this is a book you will want to read from cover to cover. The attitudes and knowledge will infuse and improve all your thinking and working with food.
If you are the book buying public, you can tune out now so I can talk to the book designers at W. W. Norton.
After the most beautifully composed photograph on the dust jacket, you seemed to drop the ball in laying out parts of the inside of the book. The photographs are too close up and are taken from an angle which does not present the food in the best light. The Table of contents is very poorly done. It is just about the worst I have ever seen in the way it is layed out. And, the tiny black and white photos used on the chapter title pages are simply a waste of money and space. One has absolutely no idea of what they are. The pictures on the 'Stocks' title page could be from a restaurant, a hospital, or a laboratory. To your copy editors, I warn that Harold McGee is probably cringing at the many uses of 'dissolve' where you really should say 'bring into suspension' or simply 'incorporate'.
To all foodies, this is a must have book.
That said, I rarely consult this cookbook unless I am planning a special meal and have a fair amount of time on my hands. For everyday feeding the household-type fare, I often turn to a more comprehensive reference like Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
The book is organized by course and the introductions to each recipe offer tips on ingredients or technique, suggestions for leftovers and sometimes the dish's history in her repertoire, which is French and Italian-influenced. Some dishes are simple - her signature Roast Chicken with Bread Salad is a snap as long as you remember to salt the chicken the day before (it does make a difference). Several soups (Asparagus & Rice with Pancetta & Black Pepper) are quick and easy, as long as you've got the stock on hand - canned stock is beneath mention - and several pickles, condiments and sauces (Preserved Lemons, Roasted Pepper Relish, Sage Pesto) are simple enough to keep on hand, but basically, Rodgers is not about quick and easy. The hamburger that the pickles are served with starts with grinding your own chuck - twice. Pasta with Sardines & Tomato Sauce begins with cleaning, broiling, then filleting the sardines, although the roasted tomato sauce is quick, easy and different. Pot Roast begins with reducing a bottle of red wine to a half cup and four cups of beef stock to two.
There are detailed instructions for cooking omelettes and risotto, making the best stock, braising meats, preparing a cheese tray, making granitas and sorbets. She gives reasons for every step from choosing a pot to skimming fat - or not. The introduction is a fine primer on basic technique (especially "early salting") and equipment and she concludes with "notes on frequently used ingredients and related techniques" and mail order sources. This is a book for aspiring cooks, good cooks looking to be better and armchair cooks.