By Rozanne Gold
It's as simple as 1-2-3 to create amazing meals with dishes made from just three ingredients.
A new cuisine that fuses brilliant flavor with breathtaking simplicity has been born, and it comes with a how-to manual: Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook, by award-winning chef and author Rozanne Gold. This volume is the eagerly awaited companion to Gold's 1996 bestseller, Recipes 1-2-3. Her new book extends the daring premise of her earlier work that with just three ingredients, anyone can create a dish that will thrill the palate.
Gold's visionary approach, perfect for moderns who crave more simplicity but reject culinary boredom, is revolutionizing the way people cook and eat. Who would have thought it possible to shop for an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner, yet breeze through the express check-out line at the supermarket, with only 15 items in the cart!
Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook shows the easy way to capture intense flavor by selecting ingredients of superb quality and using smart culinary techniques. As the acknowledged "leader of a minimalist sect," Gold is in the vanguard of a reformation away from fussiness toward purer harmonies based on fewer ingredients - in Gold's case, no more than three per dish. (She doesn't count salt, pepper, and water as ingredients but does count everything else.) Like an artist who adopts a single style as a spur to creativity, she plumbs ever-more wonderful possibilities the longer she works in this vein. Thirty-one full-color photographs highlight the stunning simplicity and beauty of her cuisine.
Reducing is one of the tricks Gold relies on to deliver fabulous flavor from a handful of ingredients. Boiling a sauce, juice, or stock until most of the water is removed transforms it into a powerful essence that lifts a dish from ordinary to ethereal. In one dessert, for example, Gold drizzles coffee ice cream and toasted almonds with a prune syrup made from a reduction of prune juice. The syrup's sweetness and acidity lend an ideal balance to the other flavors.
The menus in this new book are perfect little jewels, like those one might find at a chic cafe in Provence, Portofino, Cairo, Barcelona, or Greenwich Village. (It's no accident that Gold's menus have such polish: she's an international food and restaurant consultant, as well as a two-time winner of the James Beard Award.) Her focus on flavor and simplicity yields a surprising bonus: she often eliminates fat, which means that many of the voluptuous dishes are lower in calories than one might expect.
The menus in the new book feature 260 recipes, arranged by meals "morning, noon, and night." Each menu has a beguiling, cultured accent. "Room Service," for example, is a breakfast of Poached Eggs with Lime Hollandaise, Smoked Salmon Quesadillas, and Fresh Strawberries with Gingered Yogurt. The complete breakfast, made with just nine ingredients, is the kind of meal one might eat on a private hotel balcony that overlooks a sparkling azure sea.
Gold's literary imagination infuses many menus in the book with an extra dimension of appeal. "Lunch for Picasso" invites the reader to dream that the artist and his mistress Françoise might have consumed a simple meal of 12 ingredients: Roasted Pepper "Sandwiches" filled with Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese, Bay Scallops with Parsley Purée, Tomatoes Provençale, and Poached Oranges in Lemon Syrup with Citrus Granita.
Another vignette beckons the reader to picture a little restaurant on stilts where a beautiful chef named Miss Marley creates delicious menus, spiked with the sounds of reggae. The "Café Caribe" dinner, 12 ingredients, consists of Jumbo Lump Crab in an Avocado Sauce, Chicken Paillards Adobo Style, Smoky Pink Beans and Rice, and Coconut Ice Cream with Blue Curaçao.
While Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook is useful year round, cooks may appreciate it most around the holidays, when entertaining competes with so many other demands upon one's time. Gold was asked by USA Today in 1996 to create a Thanksgiving meal with only 15 ingredients, and her creation is included in the new book.
Another holiday meal features an English-style menu also with only 15 ingredients. It includes Smoked Salmon "Tartare" with Dill Mousse, Salt-and-Pepper Prime Rib with Horseradish Sauce and Yorkshire Pudding, Brussels Sprouts and Tangerine Beurre Noisette, and Oven-Roasted Pears with Stilton and Warm Honey Syrup.
"Grapenotes" appear with all noon and night meals and some of the morning menus suitable for brunch. These are suggestions of wines (or occasionally, beer, cocktail, or liqueur) that will lend the meal a satisfying sense of completeness. Wine selections, ranging from $7 to $20 a bottle (under $10 at lunch), come from countries across the globe, including the United States, Chile, Spain, France, Italy, Israel, Greece, South Africa, and Australia.
The pared-down ingredient lists and canny preparation tricks make these meals simple enough for family and friends, impressive enough for well-traveled guests used to dining well, and romantic enough to feed to the love of one's life.
Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook:
Morning, Noon, and Night
By Rozanne Gold
Little, Brown and Company
320 pages plus 31 color photos
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created December 1998
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