HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

November COTM 2008: THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD by Alice Waters

The winner is THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD by Alice Waters.

I'll try to start finding some on-line recipes.

MMR

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Yea! I voted for South American, but am thrilled to cook from this book, which I already own (and starting cooking from)

    Call me compulsive, but I immediately searched to amass a collection of recipes online (I omitted recipes labeled "adapted from"), which are below. I read that this is her last book. IMHO all 'hounds should own this book along w/ CP Vegetables. But cook and judge for yourself.

    All reviews are appropriately glowing, even more than all things Alice, except one that this is not Sunday Suppers at Lucques or Zuni Cafe, in that the recipes are not to the exacting standards of Chez Panisse. But still they are in Alice's religious dogma of How We All Should Eat. And cook, as in easily, locally and by season.

    Carrot Soup
    Roast Pork Loin
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/mag...
    (a good read, too

    )

    Poached Pears
    Guacamole
    Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Lemon
    Winter Roasted Tomatoes
    Braised Celery
    Chocolate Cake
    http://www.thevillagenews.com/story.p...

    Chicken Legs Braised with Tomatoes, Onions & Garlic
    Poached Egg with Curly Endive Salad
    Brussels Sprouts Gratin
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

    Leeks vinaigrette
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21203349/

    Marinated beet salad
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21203349/...

    Turnip and Turnip Greens Soup
    http://www.newsweek.com/id/123398

    Lentil Salad
    http://www.newsweek.com/id/123398/page/2

    Braised Duck Legs with Leeks and Green Olives
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    Onion Custard Pie
    Cheese and Pasta Gratin (macaroni and cheese by another name
    )http://www.courierpress.com/news/2008...

    Alice Waters’ Four essential sauces:
    Salsa Verde
    Aioli
    Herb Butter
    Vinaigrette
    http://www.care2.com/greenliving/alic...

    Cauliflower Salad with Olives and Capers
    Chocolate Truffles
    http://www.la.com/dining/Recipes_from...

    Beef stew with black olives
    http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

    Chard Gratin
    http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/the_w...

    Ginger Snaps
    http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives...

    Hummus
    http://slowlikehoney.net/2008/08/22/d...

    Sauteed Cauliflower
    Red Rice Pilaf
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

    4 Replies
    1. re: NYchowcook

      Gosh, that is wonderful, thank you! I actually own the book and have barely opened it, let only cooked from it.

      1. re: MMRuth

        I own it as well, and am excited to cook along with all of you this month. I think it has a fitting theme given the state of the world these days. To paraphrase the opening pages - Eat locally, sustainably, seasonally, garden, conserve, cook simply, with loved ones, and treasure it all-

        1. re: MMRuth

          Ok so I'm one of those folks who didn't vote or suggest a book because I don't know how much time I'll have to devote to either COTM or DCOTM... but I LOVE reading the threads. I own The Art of Simple Food too but haven't used it much yet. I'm excited to read everyone's experiences :)

        2. re: NYchowcook

          Great list! Thank you.
          I ordered my book from the library and hope it comes soon.

        3. Mmm I'll have to see if my library has it! EDIT: just checked online. Yes, they do. Great!

          1 Reply
          1. re: TheSnowpea

            I don't have it but my library does!

          2. I just found out that it's actually published here on 30th October! The recipes sound wonderful so I've placed a pre-order, so I should get the book in the first week of November. Hurrah!

            2 Replies
            1. re: greedygirl

              Fantastic greedygirl! Woohoo!

              We just make a bunch of her chicken stock over the weekend and canned it, so, we're going to definitely dive into some of the soups!

              ~TDQ

              1. re: greedygirl

                Just got an e-mail saying the book is delayed and wouldn't even be despatched until 20 November. So I've cancelled my order. Back to the drawing board.... GRRRRR!

              2. Count me as another who owns the book but hasn't cooked from it (it was a gift). I gave it a quick look last week, but will have to look again to see what sounds interesting.

                1. Just ordered it from my Library. I have to look at this book before deciding if I really need another cookbook. It's good that we can always find on-line recipes, though.

                  Thanks for everything you do, MM!!

                  21 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    Just got back from the library with a copy of The Art of Simple Food in my sweaty little palm.

                    I love our Oakland Public Library, and, if that fails, I love our Berkeley Public Library!

                    1. re: oakjoan

                      I'll nip into my library this weekend, and hope that locals aren't reading this thread! LMAO!

                      1. re: TheSnowpea

                        Can you get a jump on the week-end and order/reserve it on-line?

                        1. re: yayadave

                          Are you going to cook with us this month YAYA, or are you going to live vicariously yet again? Just wonderin'.

                          1. re: Gio

                            Oh, boy, my face is red!! I looked at that book when they had stacks of them at Costco and decided I didn't really need it.* So now every one is speaking highly of it. I may have to change my mind. Of course, there's still the Cookie book .. errr, ahhh ... the Dessert Cookbook of the Month to be decided. Jeeeze, you caught me lurkin'.

                            * There's probably a lot of us around here who don't need another cook book!!

                            1. re: yayadave

                              That's OK.... I guess you're content to be the Cookie Monster.
                              As one who does not need another cookbook... I can't resist the opportunity to savor more delicious food.

                              1. re: Gio

                                I don't know. I sorta had my finger on the trigger for "Fish Without a Doubt." It's already on my wish list at Amazon. Remember, more cookbooks mean more shelves.

                                1. re: yayadave

                                  More shelves... I hear you. I now have to build yet another bookcase in the kitchen to accommodate the incursion of more cookbooks I thought I'd never need. BTW: I Love Fish Without a Doubt. Thanks for recommending it.

                                2. re: Gio

                                  Wow! The DCOTM final voting doesn't even have one cookie book. I guess that's out. No cookies.

                                  1. re: yayadave

                                    I don't know if it's any consolation, but there a gingersnap cookie recipe I can't wait to try in AoSF--it's one of the online recipes provided above, too!

                                    I am kind of curious about Lawson's Domestic Goddess (really, how can you beat that title?) but the reviews on Amazon were very mixed, saying they didn't do a very good job converting the proportions to standard from metric in the U.S. version and that the proportions are all out of whack and that it's hard to know which version you're buying when you buy it in the U.S. So, I'm afraid I'm sitting DCOTM out if it wins for sure...

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      can you please post this on the DCOTM runoff thread? Yes, I'm biased and voted for the other choice, but I think others should know of this criticism before voting in the next day.
                                      TIA

                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                        You may post it--Joan doesn't welcome comments in her threads so I don't really go there.

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          TDQ: I don't know where you got the idea that I don't welcome comments on "my" threads. I certainly didn't mean to say anything of the kind. I have asked that folks post their choices separated from their writings if they have set out several paragraphs which make it hard to see the book for which they're voting.

                                          What could be more important than info about a book that looks as if it will be the next DCOTM? Especially info about errata.

                                          Please do post this info on the DCOTM thread.

                                          I feel terrible that you think I don't want opinions on the DCOTM voting thread and will try to post something there to make up for any misunderstanding.

                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Other cookie recipes in AoSF:

                                        oatmeal currant cookies
                                        chocolate crackle cookies
                                        butter cookies
                                        cat's-tongue cookies
                                        anise-almond biscotti

                                        also, not cookies, but would be nice, I think, as a food gift or on a holiday treats platter,

                                        chocolate truffles
                                        candied citrus peel
                                        candied nuts

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          I have to say, I've heard that criticism, but I've made a number of things from that cookbook, and have never had an issue. I think that maybe some of those problems were with the first edition of Domestic Goddess in the US, and that any of those issues may have been corrected with subsequent editions. I also think that it's pretty easy to find a lot of recipes from it online with comments, so people can check recipes in advance to see if there is any issue.

                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                            I think the problem is that people have to be super careful about which edition they are getting --the crappily converted first edition or the subsequent editions. People on Amazon were complaining that they thought they were getting one but instead got the other so, just make sure you know which edition you want and that you're getting that edition if you're buying it used or online.

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              Going to have to check which edition I have. Thanks for the heads up.

                                    2. re: yayadave

                                      "There are many of us on here who don't need another cookbook"

                                      Amen to that. Just can't help myself though!

                                    3. re: Gio

                                      OK, I just requested it from the library for another, more extended look. I noticed that the network shows 10 copies. Some are "available," some are "checked out," and two are "missing." Some Chowhounds, no doubt.

                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        Here today. The bean and butternut squash soup looks like a starting point.

                                        1. re: yayadave

                                          My copy from the Library was just delivered. Gotta do more reading and assessing.... I dunno where this will lead me. It may be a month during which I revisit some of the past COTMs.

                            2. For all of you who own this book, I have a question. It appears to be a book for novice cooks, which I definitely am not. It's not a book that I can acquire particularly cheaply over here in time for COTM (especially now the pound is tanking against the dollar!) so I'm wondering if I really need it in my life. How simple are the recipes, exactly? I've looked at the ones on the links kindly posted NYChowcook, and to be honest it's all stuff I already have recipes for.

                              Having missed out on Batali, I'm keen to participate this month but I really don't know if I can justify the expense, especially as I've just discovered we have to have a new boiler! *sigh*

                              37 Replies
                              1. re: greedygirl

                                As I mentioned, the DCOTM is still voting. Are any of those available to you?

                                1. re: yayadave

                                  Yes! I just voted for the Nigella book, which I picked up second-hand the other month. I don't do that much baking, but now's the time to start! Thanks for the suggestion.

                                2. re: greedygirl

                                  GG, I was actually thinking about offering to send you my book, because I find it kind of dull, for exactly the reasons you mention (your blog link doesn't work, btw). Are you interested?

                                  And I had no idea the Nigella baking book was up for DCotM. I'd love to do that book ... now if I can just get them to fix my *#@& oven ....

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    That's so kind of you! Are you sure? Maybe I could return the favour one day (I seem to remember that you were in London recently...). Is there any way I can reimburse you for the postage?

                                    The blog link is just my e-mail address, but in written form so I don't get too much spam (lesleytaylor118@yahoo.co.uk).

                                    I feel your pain about the oven. My boiler is broken at the moment, which is very rubbish indeed.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      OK, I've emailed you - just send along your info and I'll send the book.

                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                      Dull. That was my reaction as well. I sat down with it at B&N the other day planning to have a nice afternoon flipping through. I went through the whole thing in about 20 minutes because nothing really caught my attention. I jotted down a couple super simple recipes, but it's not a book I'd buy.

                                      Arika
                                      http://rawforamonth.blogspot.com

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        Did you vote for Nigella on the DCotm thread? I can't help but campaign, it's in the air:)

                                      2. re: greedygirl

                                        I was fully expecting to not like Waters' latest book when it first came out, assuming it would be a quick slapdash cookbook w/ nothing new to add. I then checked it out from my library and tried a few recipes and loved the results. While the recipes are not innovative and have hundreds/thousands of other versions out there, Waters' recipes often have that one little tweak that makes it closer to perfect than what I had before.

                                        I was never able to renew the book since it was constantly being requested by others, so I would get right back in line and re-request it. After the 3rd or 4th time of doing this, I figured that it was time to buy the book and have it on my shelf permanently. I now have my very own copy! :-)

                                        Just like the parallel thread on the SF Board on whether the restaurant, Chez Panisse, is worth it, the cookbook will have the same split--those who really like/love it and those who find it underwhelming or "dull." As stated in the other thread, "simple" should not be confused to mean "basic", and I don't think this book is merely for novice cooks. Note that the book has no glossy photos to get you drooling, only simple illustrations in the style of CP. For those who don't get hooked in some way while browsing, I say check it out from your library, try some online recipes, or follow along w/ those who are trying out the recipes. One cookbook does not fit all.

                                        I personally am welcoming the simple cooking and eating during a month where we start getting into excess eating and drinking. I also have high regard for Clarkson Potter who is the publisher. Looking forward to next month!

                                        1. re: Carb Lover

                                          CL: I got it out of the library and I must admit that my first reaction was also "What? This is baby stuff." I kept looking, though, and found the, Braised Pork Shoulder with Ancho chiles, something I'm eager to try. Oh yeah, and ginger snaps!

                                          I do agree with the other posters, however, that the book IS pretty basic and there was hardly anything I hadn't made before.

                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                            I'm glad you found a couple of things you are interested in making. I can see how the book might be basic and boring to some. I personally like the fact that Waters highlights the fundamentals and strips down recipes to their most essential ingredients. I've personally never made aioli or fresh pasta from scratch, and this kind of book inspires me to finally do so.

                                            Flipping through the book, I do think it's kind of organized in an odd way, but ultimately, the proof will be in the cooking. I think I'll try her pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving!

                                          2. re: Carb Lover

                                            Thanks for that assessment, CL. The reviews I read on Amazon US were similarly divided, which made it impossible for me to judge whether it was worth forking out lots of £££ for. But now LulusMom is very kindly sending me her copy of the book, so I will get an opportunity to judge for myself soon, hopefully. This month is giong to be interesting!

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              So glad you can join along thanks to LuluMom's generosity! It will be interesting to see how the recipes turn out and whether simple will lead to "meh" or "wow." The recipes generally don't call for too many ingredients or much time, so I can see myself using it quite a bit during the week.

                                              Some books just don't inspire some people though. For instance, I gave away Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone a while ago because I just couldn't get myself to cook much from it.

                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                I have to agree that Madison's book was somewhat of a let down, especially considering how highly people seem to regard it. I found enough in it to keep it though.

                                                I'm looking forward to hearing how the cooking goes from The Art of Simple Cooking.

                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                  CL: Do you have other books by Madison? I love her other books, i.e., The Savory Way and The Greens Cookbook. I don't feel negative enough about the Veg Cooking for Ev to give it away, although I hardly ever use it.

                                                  I do find that I use Madhur Jaffrey's World Veg. Cooking much more.

                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                    I have seen other Madison books, and I think I'd like the Savory Way and Veg. Suppers better than VCFE. There is a zucchini, rice & summer herb gratin I think in Veg. Suppers that is incredible!

                                                  2. re: Carb Lover

                                                    I find VCFE a handy reference, rather than inspiring for a meal. For example: how do you make applesauce again? Why, there's Deborah's recipe! And it works.
                                                    Dried fruit compote -- good techniques.
                                                    And that Little Nut Cookie is divine.

                                                2. re: Carb Lover

                                                  Not sure I agree with you, CL. I picked up “The Art of Simple Food” at the library this morning, eager to see why there seem to be such differing opinions of it. And now I do.

                                                  I don’t think this book was meant for most of us. She says it’s for “everyone who wants to learn to cook . . . .” Well, most of us who contribute to COTM already know how to cook. The book is a wonderful compendium of all the basics (and I do think that in this instance the recipes are both simple and basic); but most of us already know the basics. We don’t need to be told how to pan-fry pork chops seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper.

                                                  With all the info on how to stock a pantry, how to equip a kitchen, how to plan a dinner party, even how to pack a lunch for goodness sake, I really believe this book is meant to be “The Joy of Cooking” for graduates of her Edible Schoolyard project and other young locavores who are just buying their first cookbook. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And not that the recipes probably aren’t good—especially if made with the very best ingredients money can buy, which is essentially what she’s telling the reader to do.

                                                  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for a new cook, but I don’t think it’s for me, either. I’ll be following along and will look forward to being proved wrong.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    Yes, that is my sense too, but I'll go through and see if there are recipes that I want to try, and I'm sure I could use a 'refresher' in some areas. I've never cooked from any of her books, and since I've loved the books of some of her proteges, I'm hoping some of the recipes will be interesting.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      Ditto the two above. I picked it up at the library and thought I had plenty of cookbooks, from James Beards American cooking down the line, that cover the same ground. Hopefully I will find some items that interest me and I will just have to remember that the most delicious food is not always the most complicated food (I am better at complicated) So maybe I will learn and mellow.

                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                        I have not been linear in my progression as a cook, and have jumped around between various ethnic cuisines rather than dwelling on the Western European staples, so I'm looking forward to going back and testing myself on souffles, sauces, gratins, roast meats, etc, kind of like CarbLover mentioned with aioli and pasta. These recipes are definitely not jump off the page sexy, but valuable and interesting nonetheless. (can you tell I'm an optimist?)

                                                        Curses again with the simple recipes with the best organic ingredents, one month after Batali and his similar philosophy. Just once I'd love to crack open a book and read "forget the farmers market, here's how to gussy up some mass market 29 cent beans!" Scratch that. Just once I'd like to go food shopping and find beautiful, organic, local meat and produce as easily as I can find Diet Coke, Frozen Pizza, and Potato Chips!!!

                                                        1. re: yamalam

                                                          I'm glad that there is an optimist among us! :-)

                                                          Hmmm...now that I've talked up this book so much, I better start marking recipes to make and actually cook them! I'm kind of looking forward to the challenge of proving this cookbook to be more than meets the eye. I hope those who voted for the book will also join in!

                                                          And yes, I totally agree w/ yamalam's comment about not being a linear cook. I feel like a basics tune-up for me will be good...

                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                            I am definitely going to be joining in!

                                                            Forgive me for what I am about to suggest, but I hate to see so many people unhappy with the book. Would it be a bad idea to make it a combo month and add Chez Panisse Cookbook into the mix? I realize I'm suggesting this after the voting has taken place, but it's just a thought.

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              No, no, no! If I had thought my comments might result in people rethinking the selection I would never have posted them. We can't all love every book all the time. We're far too diverse a group for that. Thank goodness. And once people start cooking and posting it could well be that we naysayers are proved fools.

                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                HAHAHA! Okay, nevermind then. :)

                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                  Absolutely - not every book is going to appeal to every poster who votes etc.

                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                        My assessment is the same as yours, Joan, except that I have to say, with the holidays bearing down on us, I'm looking forward to some "simple" food--as long as it's delicious. I realize the rest of you are cooking at a level that's much higher than mine, but, at least for me this will be a bit of a break.

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          I'm seeing it as a chance to just kind of relax, wish for the Gods of Ovens to make sure good things happen to me, and cook old favorites, all the while following along to see how this month of cooking goes.

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            Interesting turn of events. Finally got a chance to read through the book today and would you believe I found 14 recipes I'd consider making. Don't have them in front of me now - but - Pesto was one of them. Now you know..... I've been making Pesto virtually all my life.... in a blender then in a food processor. SHE makes it in a mortar. Duh.... <smacking head>. I hated using the blender.... I hated making pesto..... I love mashing in a mortar. Must be some latent aggression something or other. So I guess I'll be buying the book after all because I can use it as a reference or a memory board since Alice really does reduce recipes to their basic elements.

                                                            I had her first cookbook for ages until I gave it to one of my daughter's friends. That was 25years ago. I never cooked from it... the girl was
                                                            extactic. I never thought I'd ever revisit Alice Waters again.

                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  Look at it this way. Maybe Alice Waters learned how to cook in those 25 years and now has something to say to you.

                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                I think Marcella Hazan says the mortar method is best too.

                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                  I like the mortar method for a single meal, but its not helpful when all my basil is ready to harvest at once. thats the usual reality.

                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                    Well, my Marcella recipe uses the food processor, BUT it does have the revelatory info (to me anyhow) that one should add the grated cheese to the pesto by hand after you've whizzed the basil, garlic and pine nuts in the processor. Somehow, she's made me believe it is EVER so much better that way. It is less gummy or something.

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              I don't know... I'd hardly consider myself a "seasoned" cook, but I just could not get into this book when I checked it out from the library. Call me superficial, but I just thought the whole thing seemed boring... the typeface, the lack of photos, everything. (Ducking, as Carb Lover throws a dinner roll at me! ;-)

                                                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                Hehe...no worries about disagreeing w/ my opinion, Katie Nell. I can see how some would flip through the book and not be inspired. Rather than throwing dinner rolls at you, I'll invite you over for cream biscuits or homemade pizza instead. :-)

                                                                Sorry for the off-topic comment, but I just got Sticky Buns, etc. from my library and will be making the cinnamon buns among other items soon! I'll report back when I do...

                                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                  Ooh, I like your method much better! ;-)

                                                                  I am planning on still baking from Sticky Buns, etc. and figured we could start a regular thread on it.

                                                        2. I got my book this Sat from the library and I share both the enthusiasm and non enthusiasm you all are going through.
                                                          The book is very basic; too basic. But I managed to mark down couple of recipes and I look forward to cook from them.
                                                          Thanks MMR for making sure that the voting is done in time and we can order our books in advance from the library.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: cpw

                                                            Not to jump the gun (can you tell that I'm eager about this book? :-)), but I made 3 recipes this past weekend: pizza dough (for my own margherita and white pizzas), tomatillo salsa (to accompany avocado quesadillas from A Platter of Figs), and apple tart (to go w/ my own honey ice cream). I will reserve detailed critique for next month's thread, but I will say that they were all excellent building blocks for a great meal.

                                                            Being an experienced cook will help one to better improvise and build upon each basic recipe since unlike Judy Rodgers, Alice Waters doesn't go into every detail. I think the key is to get the best ingredients that are available and affordable (I used a lot of stuff from my CSA box and the farmers market), but it doesn't need to be too precious either. More experienced cooks understand the importance of great ingredients and how to better shop for them IMO. Simple in ingredient list and preparation, this is the kind of book that I could use everyday.

                                                            Ok, I think I'll keep quiet until Nov. :-)

                                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                                              Those all sound delicious, Carb Lover. I would actually love the recipe for your honey ice cream (have you seen the comment in my profile?)

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                I just checked out your profile, and I've heard about this ice cream w/ sunflower seeds before. Sounds great!

                                                                Below is a link to my honey ice cream report w/ recipe and photos. I really like the fact that I use two whole eggs (not just yolks) which makes it a little lighter and uses up the entire egg. I also don't add any additional sugar. Let me know what you think if you try it!

                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/329285

                                                                ETA: I just tasted some honey ice cream, and it was fantastic! It stays nice and soft and doesn't have one bit of ice crystallization. The flavor seems to have also aged nicely. Note that the cold custard base tends to taste muted in honey flavor but that it really blooms after churning and ripening.

                                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                  Ah, see, you posted that honey ice cream post before I'd discovered honey ice cream! I didn't know what I was missing. I've bookmarked it and will definitely try to make later...it's just officially hit freezing here in St. Paul--I'm suddenly wishing to hibernate.

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Brrrr...sounds cold. Oh, the one step I failed to mention in my prior recipe is to strain the custard base before chilling; mine had a few little lumps.

                                                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                      If you don't make any other recipe from this book, make the biscuits. I've been eating and baking biscuits for many years, but Alice's cream biscuits are the best, hands down, bar none. This one recipe is more than worth the price of the book.

                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        Thanks for the heads up on the biscuits, pikawicca. I have made a number of biscuit recipes over the years and haven't found "the one" yet. I've been meaning to try a recipe from Edna Lewis but haven't gotten around to it. Will def. try Alice's version. For me, the pizza dough recipe was worth the price of the book.

                                                          2. I didn't vote so I shouldn't whine... but I will. Two "basic recipes" cookbooks in a row? I was slightly entertained by Molto Italiano.
                                                            Sorry, I don't feel I need a refresher in cooking basic American fare, like grilled cheese sandwiches.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                              Scargod: I understand your whining....however, the COTM for October was NOT just Molto Italiano. The Babbo cookbook was also included. I think that book has many more complicated recipes.

                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                That may be. I went with what I read, here and on Amazon, that Molto Italiano was his "best" cookbook. I do like it but I see it more as an idea book or starting point for embellishments. I've hardly scratched the surface of it yet. There may be more to it than I realize. It may also be that standard Italian fare is not that complicated or that I have become so ingrained in incorporating Italian elements into my cooking that I am somewhat jaded.

                                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                                  I do think that standard Italian fare isn't that complicated - that it's more about the ingredients than the technique. We usually do a 'post-mortem' on the 'master' thread for the month, where people write about what they think of the book, favorite recipes, etc., so it will probably be more useful for us to have that discussion on that thread, so that it will be there for posterity, so to speak. Hope you'll chime in over there - usually start that on the first of the month.

                                                              2. re: Scargod

                                                                I think you're underestimating the Alice Waters' book. In many ways it's the sum of her cooking experience, not a How to Boil Water cookbook.
                                                                At first I was underwhelmed also. But then reading more carefully and trying a couple recipes (though, I did adapt) I was very, very pleased.

                                                                1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                  Yes, I was very surprised when, after reading through my book, I managed to find about 15 or so recipes that appealed to me right away. I usually adapt any recipe, except when baking, if the recommended ingredients aren't available either in my pantry or at the market. I really think most cookbook authors expect that to happen.

                                                                  There was a thread a while ago about cooking from books on the shelf that have never been used. The Zuni cookbook was It for me...untill someone suggested the Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Sage Leaves. Now you know that I've made a gazzillion GCS in my lifetime.... but the Zuni recipe was absolutely like nothing I'd ever had before. So.... you just never know when something wonderful will come along......

                                                              3. Here's my proposed list of threads for this book - any suggestions welcome. One unusual feature is the two sections - recipes divided by category in the back, and technique, I guess, in the front. My thought is to go with the categories in the back, and people can just post the first set of recipes wherever they fit in.

                                                                A Little Something & Sauces
                                                                Salads
                                                                Soup, Pasta, Bread & Grains
                                                                Eggs and Cheese
                                                                Vegetables
                                                                Poultry & Meat
                                                                Desserts

                                                                16 Replies
                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  I like how you've organized it by category rather than by technique. I think that's a lot more useful. Usually, I think to myself, "Hmmmm...I need to find something to do with this chicken I found at the farmers' market, what recipe can I find for that?" rather than, "Hmmmm, I feel like poaching something today...."

                                                                  It's probably just me, but I would pair soups with salads rather than with pasta and grains, but, I think how you have it is fine.

                                                                  As always, thank you for your hard work!

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                    I'm happy to see that you are able to rise above it and get on with the program.

                                                                    1. re: yayadave

                                                                      Hmm - not sure what you mean. What do you think of TDQ's idea of putting soups and salads together?

                                                                      Thanks!

                                                                      MMR

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        I think her (TDQ) combo of soup and salad idea comes from the years of restaurant dining where one is asked "soup or salad". I agree with her because it seems like a familiar combo.

                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                          That, oakjoan, as well as I think of soups and salads as having in common the concept of being either be a "starter/side" or a "light main", depending on which direction you decide to go.

                                                                          Thanks for setting it up for us, MMR. I can't wait to hear about your pizza! I hope it's grand.

                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                        2. re: MMRuth

                                                                          I like the idea of combining soup and salads. Everything else looks great, MMR!

                                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                            It's done! And I'm going to try the pizza tonight - my first pizza ever.

                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                              Oh goodie, hopefully you will see the joys of homemade pizza! Def. follow her advice to bake on the lowest rack in your oven. One tip for a crispy bottom based on my experimentation: carefully lift the hot pizza stone out of the oven when the pizza is done and allow the pizza to rest on it for 5-10 min. till you're ready to slice and devour.

                                                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                Thanks - two other questions - I'm about to go make the dough. I don't have rye flour and couldn't find it while I was out and about this morning, so I'm thinking about substituting 1/4 whole wheat flour. Also, my oven goes to 550 - do you think I should stick with 500, or go with the higher heat? I went to a great Italian market this morning and have mozzarella, prosciutto and basil, as well as some leftover Mario tomato sauce for my husband's - I like white pizza.

                                                                                I just realized that I don't have one of of those pizza cutters - I wonder if scissors would be the best alternative?

                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                  I just use my chefs knife to cut pizza, it works a lot better than a pizza cutter. Stick with 500, at least until you've practiced some and you know how pizza works with your oven, you don't want a burnt crust.

                                                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                    Thanks all - dough is rising. I'll make two of them, so I may try one at 500 and one at 550 and will report back on the proper thread.

                                                                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                    Waters says, in a sidebar to the recipe, that "A little rye or other whole-grain flour adds more flavor to the dough," so I'm sure ww flour would be fine.

                                                                                    I always crank my oven up to 550 for pizza--and preheat it for at least 45 minutes. But then, I've never made this particular recipe. She says to place the stone on the lowest rack and bake it for 10 minutes; I keep my stone on the floor of the oven and my pizzas rarely take longer than 6 or 7 minutes.

                                                                                    CL's method of hauling the stone out of the oven with the pizza on it scares the daylights out of me. I'm not even sure I could do it without burning myself and probably dropping the stone and the pizza. But my pizza is always a bit charred on the bottom and cooked through after the 6 or 7 minutes. I'd be afraid it would be burnt after an additional 10 minutes on the stone.

                                                                                    I'm sure scissors would work, but if you have a wooden peel you can just cut the pizza with your largest knife. It might be less messy than trying to cut through melted cheese with a scissors.

                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                      Pepe's, in New Haven, CT, and a friend who has his own wood-fired backyard oven, cook at higher temps, like 600-800 degrees. If you want that charred bottom I would crank it up and get that stone good 'n hot!

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                        I ran out of rye flour so used WW flour last time and it was just as good. I love the slightly nutty flavor it imparts.

                                                                                        I bake mine at 500 since that's the highest my oven will go; I pre-heat my pizza stone for at least 30 min.

                                                                                        I can understand Joan's trepidation about taking out a hot pizza stone. I actually bake my pizza on foil on the stone since I don't have a pizza peel and don't trust myself to glide the pizza right off a sheet pan. I need to put down some cornmeal onto a flat baking sheet and just go for it sometime though. I usually remove the pizza first from the oven, then the stone, and then place the pizza on foil onto the stone. This may not be necessary if you bake yours at a higher temp. directly on the stone.

                                                                                        I have always let the dough develop overnight in the fridge since I think it gives it better flavor and a more tender crumb. I have a pizza cutter, but a chef's knife would work just as well. I prefer white pizza too, while husband goes for the tomato sauce. Good luck; hope it's delicious!

                                                                                    2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                      MMR - for future reference, I've found that the basic "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" dough makes excellent pizza.

                                                                            2. Thanks to LulusMom's impeccable timing, my book arrived in the post yesterday! I'm looking forward to getting started.

                                                                              1. Piffle, the library's copy was out when I went on Sunday. I put in request to reserve it (hopefully I'll not be depriving a fellow Hound) and checked out her books on Vegetables and on Fruits in the meantime.