The Food Lovers' Cookbook Collection
Market Cooking by David Tanis
It is not often we find a book where you want to cook every single recipe - but this is such a book. David Tanis was formerly a chef at the wonderful Chez Panisse and it shows. The book displays a simplicity in the approach to cooking that we love.
However simplicity does not imply a lack of flavour as these recipes prove. This is a perfect book for those wanting recipes that do not rely on protein-packed heroes but rather a book that elevates vegetables and fruit to their rightful place without eschewing meats.
First we should mention a bit about the author and his background. David Tanis spent many years as co-head chef at the venerable Chez Panisse in San Francisco.
We first visited Chez Panisse in 1985 and it was a revelation for us. At a time where leading restaurants were very much modelled on Michelin-starred restaurants in France with their stuffy waiters and concentration on rich, rare ingredients such as foie gras, caviar, lobster and truffles, we were served sweet corn soup, a simple pizza, roast chicken and peaches and ice cream by friendly waiters who were anxious for us to enjoy the food we were being presented. It was all extraordinarily fresh and vital and the cooking was perfect despite the apparent simplicity of the food, there was flavour and freshness in every morsel we tried.
The wine was also a revelation - we tried a lively Bandol from Domaine Tempier, not knowing that we were probably trying our first ever natural wine!
David Tanis used to share the role there, spending six months cooking at the restaurant and the other six months in Paris.
There is another side to spending time at Chez Panisse, however. Some of the best and most enduring cookbooks we constantly refer to have been written by chefs who have spent time there!
In fact, it is difficult to name them all because there are so many. But it really is like a roll call of the best including the wonderful La Bonne Cuisine by Madame E. Saint-Ange that was painstakingly translated by Paul Aratow, one of the original chefs and a co-owner of the restaurant. Then there is Chez Panisse Cooking authored by Alice Waters and Paul Bertolli who also authored Cooking By Hand which is one of our all-time favourite cookbooks.
Then there was Jeremiah Tower who wrote the enduring New American Classics soon after relinquishing his role as head chef at Chez Panisse.
Another important chef who spent part of her early career at Chez Panisse was Ruth Rodgers who went on to open the much-loved Zuni Cafe. This is a restaurant that we have returned to time and again on our visits to San Francisco. She wrote The Zuni Cafe Cookbook which is a book that we have used extensively over the years for simple recipes such as the Zuni Pickles or for more complicated ones such as the roast chicken.
A less well-known, but equally interesting cookbook is French Roots authored by Jean-Pierre and Denise Moulle. Jean-Pierre was appointed as chef in 1975 and for much of his time there shared the role with David Tanis.
And who can forget Deborah Madison who worked at Chez Panisse before she started the vegetarian temple called Greens and subsequently wrote the cookbook called The Greens Cookbook which became a classic.
David Lebovitz who has authored a number of best-selling cookbooks and who now lives in Paris was also a pastry chef at Chez Panisse.
And now David Tanis has written a new cookbook (he has previously co-authored A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes as well as Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook with Alice Waters) called Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient.
There are four main sections to the book entitled Alliums United, Mad for Vegetables, The Art of Seasoning and Kitchen Essentials. In each of these sections there are a number of topics. In the first two sections the topics are devoted to vegetables. In the other two they are devoted to the basics of cooking.
In his discussion of garlic in the first section there are recipes for three garlic sauces presented - a potato-based Skordalia from Greece, a pure Aioli from Provence and a pure white All-i-oli from Spain. Each is based on garlic but the three sauces are quite different, however he goes to pains to point out that an Aioli must only have garlic as the flavouring.
In the vegetables section we find that every recipe is one we want to try. They embody the simplicity of the Chez Panisse approach but are designed to ensure that flavour is front and centre. But a word of warning! We have found that the recipes work beautifully because we are lucky enough to have ready access to some of the best organic produce available. These are not recipes to be tried with tired, flaccid vegetables from the local supermarket!
This is a great book that we are happy to add to our list of best cookbooks!