Pros: short ingredient lists, fast preparation
Cons: not necessarily health conscious
Normally cookbooks written by famous chefs are almost unusable, full to the brim with mysterious ingredients used in complicated techniques that yield an art piece that one is almost afraid to eat for dinner. There seems to be a new wave of inspiration hitting chefs lately, however, and they are releasing books of recipes that are accessible to almost every foodie and home cook.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is well known for his restaurants in New York City, but most of his cooking is probably out of the average home cook's league. In his latest book, he offers much less complicated recipes that still retain the rich flavors and complexities of his more time-consuming dishes. With a beautiful photograph accompanying most recipes, most home cooks will be able to present their families with a delicious meal that didn't take hours in the kitchen to produce.
I have made two recipes so far from the book: fettuccine with Meyer lemon cream sauce and butternut squash with balsamic and chile panko crumbs. Both have amazingly short ingredient lists, but are still heavy on flavor. The fettuccine was amazingly light considering the cream in the sauce. It was almost refreshing with the Meyer lemon rind and juice stirred in. The butternut squash was naturally sweet, which played well with the tartness of the balsamic vinegar and the spice of the red chile flakes. The soft squash also worked well with the crunchy topping.
This book is definitely recommended to anyone with a basic grasp of cooking who wants to make more interesting dishes for friends and family that do not require hours of effort.
Fettuccine with Meyer Lemon Cream
8 ounces store-bought fresh fettuccine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
2-ounce block Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Coursely ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously.
Meanwhile, whisk together the cream, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt. Pour 1 cup of the mixture into a large, deep skillet. Boil it rapidly, stirring frequently, until reduced by about half, about 8 minutes.
After the sauce has reduced for 5 minutes, cook the fettuccine in the water until al dente, about 3 minutes.
Drain the pasta well and add to the lemon cream. Reduce the heat to low and toss until well coated. Add the remaining cream mixture and the lemon juice and continue tossing until well coated.
Divide among 4 shallow bowls. Grate the cheese directly over the pasta, forming a little mound. Grind a generous dose of pepper over the pasta. Serve immediately.