cover image Gather & Graze: 120 Favorite Recipes for Tasty Good Times

Gather & Graze: 120 Favorite Recipes for Tasty Good Times

Stephanie Izard with Rachel Holtzman. Clarkson Potter, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-0-451-49594-5

Izard, the first woman to win Top Chef, presents an eclectic collection of over-the-top recipes, such as Cheez-Its tossed in melted chocolate and peanut butter and paired with toasted marshmallows, positioned as a cookbook for entertaining guests. Favorite dishes from her three Chicago restaurants inventively cross-pollinate cuisines: the pickled vegetables from a classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich top a hamburger. Sidebars provide information on unusual ingredients that add zing, such as powdered honey. Unusual cuts of meat also come into play, such as goat neck marinated and roasted for five hours, then served with a tart pickled-watermelon-rind salad. The book’s recipes are divided by type of gathering (brunch, cookout), which often feels random. Some recipe titles are annoyingly cutesy: “sesame-horsey mayo” served with duck hearts is mayonnaise punched up with horseradish, soy sauce, sesame oil, and fermented black beans, and “razzle” is an unnecessary euphemism for the North African ras el hanout spice mix. The results, however, are worthwhile: a ragout of ground pork, peanuts, tamarind, miso, and harissa and a soybean noodle salad flavored with yuzu and tossed with cabbage, bean sprouts, and herbs are typical of strong food that needs no gimmicks. When Izard stops trying so hard to be clever and simply cooks, the results are partyworthy and intriguing. (Apr.)