Classics

sundaylucques.jpg This year, in our house, we're cooking our version of Suzanne Goin's succotash. Of course Suzanne Goin doesn't call it succotash; in her book Sunday Suppers at Luques, she calls it sweet corn, green cabbage and bacon. We call it succotash because we throw in some lima beans and way more butter.

As Recommended by Nora Ephron

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inside the california food revolutionMost cookbooks focus on what's new, but not all of them. And there are definitely some advantages to looking back. These books are all about American cooking, but each takes a closer look at our culinary history and regional differences.

Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness is an amazing book that details the "thirty years that changed our culinary consciousness." It WAS a revolution that took place in California, but truly the effects were felt all across the country. Joyce Goldstein was there, a successful restaurateur and chef as well as food writer and so her connections and knowledge of the time make this book really stand out. She tells the stories of the people who shaped what and how we eat in the crucial era from 1970 until 2000. Her admiration for the pioneers of the time comes through and her engaging style make this a must read. No recipes are in the book, but a number of menus that help document the time.

ACenturyofRestaurantsCoverA Century of Restaurants: Stories and Recipes from 100 of America's Most Historic and Successful Restaurants is another definite "keeper" because it combines food, history and travel. It must have been a very enjoyable book to research and write, because it catalogues stories and recipes from one hundred of America's most historic and successful restaurants. It's just good fun to look up iconic restaurants and read about them and see a recipe. For California the book includes Philippe the Original in Los Angeles, Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero. The Tadich Grill in San Francisco and Fenton's Creamery in Oakland. If you are planning a trip, it's a perfect book to reference before you go. Some of my favorite old time places are here such as Durgin Park and The Union Oyster House in Boston, Commander's Palace in New Orleans and Ferrara in New York. It's wonderfully researched and well written. 

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ImageMastering the Art of French Cooking was my first cookbook, a gift from a friend. This happened many years ago, but I remember how it happened in great detail.

At the time, I was friendly with a woman I was too intimidated to ask out. To get over my nervousness, I offered to cook her dinner, thinking I’d grill a steak and make a tossed green salad, but she loved Julia Child and wondered if I could cook something French. Figuring I would be a good sport, I agreed.

I had watched Julia on PBS and loved her idiosyncratic character. Her passion for cooking and food was infectious. French food seemed too complicated, something eaten in a restaurant, not at home.

Not having a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she loaned me hers. I decided on chicken with mustard (“Poulet grillé à la diable”). Why that one? I don’t know, it sounded good.

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