cover image Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication

Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication

Mark Bittman, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Clarkson N Potter Publishers, $45 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-0360-8

Following their James Beard Award- winning collaboration, Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef, Vongerichten and New York Times food columnist Bittman (The Minimalist) team up again, this time ingeniously leading home cooks from simple to spectacular dishes. ""A mastery of basic recipes and an idea of how to vary them leads to almost limitless options,"" writes Bittman. They emphasize time-saving techniques and offer an intriguing range of flavor possibilities. An excellent section on seasonings and sauces introduces innovative flavor-enhancers such as Citrus Salt, Mint-Licorice Spice Mix and Lobster Oil Mayonnaise. The authors expertly marry an updated French culinary sensibility with Asian-inspired influences, gradually transforming one basic recipe into four increasingly sophisticated dishes by adding luxury ingredients (e.g., truffles, caviar) or unusual seasonings (like harissa or pistachio oil), or by incorporating more advanced techniques (such as making beurre noisette). Among the mouthwatering permutations on French-bistro basics, One-Hour Chicken Stock morphs into Rich Chicken Soup with Chestnuts and Mushrooms; Best Scrambled Eggs is elevated to Oeufs au Caviar; and Tuna Tartare takes a fancy turn as Tuna Spring Roll with Soybean Coulis. Clean, pared-down prose, helpful ""Keys to Success"" sidebars and clear recipe instructions ably guide both novice and seasoned cooks. With a masterful understanding of today's global pantry, the authors have produced a modern classic. (Oct.)