cover image SIMPLE PLEASURES: Home Cooking from the Gotham Bar and Grill's Acclaimed Chef

SIMPLE PLEASURES: Home Cooking from the Gotham Bar and Grill's Acclaimed Chef

Alfred Portale, Andrew Friedman, . . Morrow, $34.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-06-053502-5

As in his two previous cookbooks, Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook and Alfred Portale's 12 Seasons Cookbook , Portale uses the same flavor-enhancing principles he's used at his top New York City restaurant, Gotham Bar and Grill, for 20 years, but works his magic on home-style foods rather than dishes that require a team of sous chefs to be executed properly. Portale makes particularly good use of vegetables, in such intriguing concoctions as Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables, and Crisp Vegetable Salad with Sunflower Seeds and Mustard Vinaigrette. His headers are informative, like the one for Roasted Chestnut Soup that offers a rundown of how to choose and store the nuts. Repeatedly, recipes that sound somewhat familiar reveal a twist or demonstrate a technique: Roast Turkey, Avocado, Bacon and Blue Cheese Sandwich sounds almost ordinary, but includes a clearly explained method for brining a turkey breast that is helpful beyond the confines of one recipe. Roasted Wild Striped Bass with Leeks, Fingerling Potatoes and Lemon calls for steaming the fish briefly, baking it to draw out its flavor, then reducing the juices into a sauce, but Portale manages to maximize flavor while still minimizing the number of pans dirtied. Photos. (Nov.)

Forecast: Portale is the rare chef/author who can transition smoothly between a restaurant kitchen and a home kitchen. His restaurant's longevity means that the pool of past customers is large. Expect brisk sales.