cover image The Supper Book

The Supper Book

Marion Cunningham. Alfred A. Knopf, $22 (253pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40144-5

In this welcome follow-up to The Breakfast Book , Cunningham restores supper to its traditional place as a cozy, ``flexible'' meal and invites readers to expand their repertoires with her inventive selections. She reminds cooks that supper was never meant to be a test of one's culinary acumen, and suggests that it is ``more a state of mind than a meal bound by rules.'' The easy and adaptable recipes, which cover all parts and types of the meal, reflect that belief. Many, like black pepper ribs and chicken under a brick, require only a handful of common ingredients and can be prepared quickly. Even those that call for more time and preparation, like ``Sharon's Orange Scone Berry Cakes,'' need no more dexterity than kneading dough or transferring ingredients from mixing bowl to pan. In addition, Cunningham lauds ordinary supper foods, most notably iceberg lettuce, which she calls ``a perfect creation'' and includes in several recipes. In this easygoing cookbook, there are few requirements--no lists of pantry must-haves or sources for exotic ingredients. By departing from both the fast-and-fat-free and food-as-spectacle cookbook camps, the author more accurately reflects the realities of day-to-day cooking. 50,000 first printing; Literary Guild alternate . (Sept.)