It would be easy to resent Garten: the successful Hamptons specialty food store, three previous cookbooks—one a New York Times
bestseller—her own series on the Food Network and an apartment on the Left Bank all invite envy. But Garten is much too pleasant and friendly in this book for anyone to wish her ill. While she doesn't break any ground—with simple recipes like Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic, and Loin of Pork with Green Peppercorns—she also doesn't step on any toes or have any pretension, and writes personally in a way that feels genuine. Garten even includes a photograph of herself, circa age three, in the frilly dress her grandparents brought her from Paris that inspired a lifelong love affair with the city. Part of Garten's charm lies in her self-deprecating sense of humor. "I was a little afraid to attempt a soufflé (think Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
)," she relates in the introduction to Blue Cheese Soufflé. "I really love beautiful flower arrangements, but I usually make a mess of them on the first try," she admits in a brief note on flowers. Her relaxed attitude toward entertaining also comes through in dishes like Ice Cream Bombe, where she reassures readers that Häagen-Dazs mango sorbet will do fine. Even the innovation is low-key: Avocado and Grapefruit Salad features an unusual pair, but is dressed with a very basic vinaigrette; and Zucchini Vichyssoise is no more complicated than the traditional potato-only version. (On sale Nov. 9)
Garten has a big following, and with its inviting tone and fresh fare, this book may cause it to grow further. A 250,000-copy first printing indicates Clarkson Potter's faith in a reliable author.