cover image American Bistro: Great Recipes in the New Cooking Tradition

American Bistro: Great Recipes in the New Cooking Tradition

Diane Rossen Worthington. Chronicle Books, $29.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1475-1

Worthington (The Cuisine of California) brings her lively West Coast touch to the substantial, rustic cooking of the classic European bistro. The results are hard to resist. Familiar, comforting bistro food becomes more up to date and sophisticated as traditional dishes are lightened with fresh American produce and bold flavoring. For instance, in contrast to the classic high-calorie agglomeration of potatoes, cream and cheese, Potato-Vegetable Gratin is a sprightly layering of lightly cooked leeks, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and potatoes with a dash of Gruyere. Old faithfuls like slow-simmered Ragout of Beef and Winter Vegetables are given new zing with sun-dried tomatoes, while traditional seafood soup (modernized with grilled seafood) is zapped with ancho chile rouille. Desserts are more conventionally American (Nectarine-Cherry Cobbler), but the Breakfast-Brunch chapter contains a Vegetable Frittata that is deeply rooted in the bistro-trattoria tradition. Anthony Dias Blue contributes lucid wine notes; Basics and Menu sections and a glossary are included; full-page color pictures add allure. California ingredients and special culinary zest spark up these European recipes, making many seem just right to warm the winter nights ahead. (Nov.)