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A Recipe for Cooking    by Cal Peternell order for
Recipe for Cooking
by Cal Peternell
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Cal Peternell, Chef at Chez Panisse and author of Twelve Recipes, offers a wonderful new cookbook – A Recipe for Cooking. He keeps a journal of meals. He realized that many, many of these meals 'tell the stories about friends telling stories around a table, talking about their kids and their lives'. He recalls 'the sounds and the smells of cooking and the food tells in turn the stories of farmers and fishermen and ranchers.'

He feels these stories are as important as the written record providing memories more telling than the usual glossy photos of dishes. Peternell wants this book to 'embolden you in the kitchen, inspire you to find good ingredients, and enable you to cook them with confidence and pleasure. And when the eating is done, I hope you will have great stories to tell and fond listeners with stories of their own.'

Chef Peternell notes that parts of the recipes can be omitted without losing the charm. Do what is right 'for tonight and everyone will be happier'. He also admonishes that it is essential to taste, taste, and taste. Paying attention to what you learn from careful tasting is the single most important skill in the kitchen.

Now, without further ado, on to the recipes – Aperitivi: Olives with Citrus Zests and Fried Herbs; Cold Brined Carrots; Top Pizza Dough Crackers. All sound good? There are more in this category. Can't list them all. As is the case with other choices.

First Courses: Agnolotti del Plin in Brodo with Sweet Peas; Grilled Asparagus with Homemade Pancetta and Hazelnut Salsa; Wild Salmon Gravlax with Shaved Asparagus Salad; Dos Gazpachos. These recipes are for summer and there are equally lovely selections for the other three seasons.

Second Courses: 15 Layer Lasagna; Cast-Iron Pan Roast; Duck cooked Two Ways. Then we go to Alongsides with choices for all the seasons: Roasted Winter Squash with Brown Butter; Creamed Sweet Corn Polenta. And Sauces: Red Wine Vinaigrette; Summer Marinara; Peaches and Red Onions; Bearnaise. And finally Desserts: Rhubarb Flaky Tart; Peaches with Crisp Stuffing; Mango Fool; Persimmon Toast with Chocolate, Pistachios, and Cream; Chocolate Soufflé.

Got all these dishes floating before your eyes as you envision tying on that apron and getting out the necessary utensils and ingredients? Me, too. This wonderful cookbook is generous with tips and suggestions. But, most of all, I'm sure Chef Peternell wants you to enjoy your cooking, the eating and the sharing of stories around a table laden with good food. Bon Appetit!

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