cover image The Olives Table

The Olives Table

Todd English. Simon & Schuster, $35 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-684-81572-5

In an introductory Q&A interview with food writer Sampson, English, owner-chef of Boston's Olives restaurant, suggests that culinary traditions offer cooks guidelines from which they should stray in order to make best use of ingredients at hand. He practices that belief at his Mediterranean-influenced restaurant and in the 200 recipes collected here. The results yield such innovative, yet slightly familiar dishes as Grilled Scallops with Walnut Butter Paste (threaded on rosemary branches) and Olives Marinated Lamb Sandwich on Olive Bruschetta. A trip to Israel sets English's mind whirring with Lentil Hummus and Fresh Tuna Tabouli. The weak points here are those that typically mark a restaurant cookbook. Most recipes carry lengthy lists of ingredients. Even My Favorite Baked Potato Salad, topped with green salad, which English claims to indulge in on Sunday nights at home, requires a saute pan and assorted separately prepared ingredients, while others are ill-directed for home cooks. Among the latter, both Everyday Polenta (with butter, cream and cheese) and Green Apple Risotto With Cabbage and Bacon are presented as side dishes but are significant projects in themselves. (Mar.)