Heart of the Artichoke
and Other Kitchen Journeys
by David Tanis
Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys is the perfect cookbook for how we cook today. Chef David Tanis offers simple and defining recipes, along with variations to each. His book is fluid with beautiful recipes and complementing menus coupled into seasons and celebratory occasions. With more people cooking at home and trying to balance life while finding the time to shop and cook a quality meal—Tanis enables and inspires!
"Despite the title, this is not a book about artichokes. Or rather, it is and it isn't. There are some artichoke recipes within, though not terribly many," David Tanis, one of the most original voices in American cooking, writes in the introduction to his new cookbook. "The artichoke is ripe with metaphor and parable possibilities. Getting past the thorns to the sweet center...not at all like reaching up and harvesting a sweet peach, eating an artichoke requires a bit of work."
He opens this soulful, fun-to-read cookbook with his own private food rituals, those treats—jalapeño pancakes, beans on toast, pasta for one—for when we are on our own in the kitchen with no one else to satisfy. Then he follows with 20 incomparable menus (five per season) that serve four to six. Each transports us to places far and wide. And for grand occasions, a time for the whole tribe to gather around the table, Tanis delivers festive menus for holiday feasts. To sum it up: one book, three kinds of cooking: small, medium and large.
Tanis shares his love of cooking at every level. Nobody embodies the present-day mantra "Eat real food in season" better than this chef and the menus in the book, a follow-up to his first cookbook, A Platter of Figs, are a walk through the seasons. Here's a selection:
- Fall: "Flatbread Wisdom"—Rosemary and Scallion Focaccia; Sweet Pepper and Cauliflower Salad; Raviolone with Butternut Squash in Butter and Sage; and Figs, Grapes and Vin Santo
- Winter: "Dead-of-Winter Dinner From the Supermarket"—Romaine Hearts with Shaved Parmigiano and Lemon Dressing; Panfried Steak with Steak Sauce; Classic Potato Gratin; and Broiled Pineapple with Rum
- Spring: "Spring Lamb"—Asparagus-Scrambled Eggs; Fork-Mashed Potatoes; Spring Lamb with Rosemary; Dandelion Greens Salad; and Strawberries with Sugar and Cream
- Summer: "Parsley Goes with Everything"—Chilled Tomato Soup with Basil; Flat-Roasted Chicken with Rosemary; Rice Salad with Sweet Herbs; and Lemon Verbena Bavarian Cream
The variety of recipes and menus help home cooks achieve a nourishing experience with simple ingredients—even when we're pressed for time. Tanis' style is to create menus that aren't terribly formal. "People don't always think in terms of three-course meals. This is fine!" he says. Other bits of wisdom:
- Time and the Cook—He asks us to get our hands in the dough and to cultivate patience. Learn the pleasure of giving ourselves over to the true kitchen experience. This doesn't mean spending hours and hours in the kitchen. It's not more difficult cooking; rather, a different way of engaging with food. What matters is the joy that makes us part of a cooking continuum from beginning to end. It becomes a real journey and that journey is at the heart of the Artichoke.
- Regarding Kitchen Tools—Tanis says a kitchen requires only fire, water, a worktable and a sharp knife. A good vegetable peeler is handy along with a good mortal and pestle—it's old-fashioned, efficient and good for pounding garlic, spices or herbs or all three together, such as the seasonings to rub on a piece of pork (fennel seed, black peppercorns, garlic, sage and rosemary—all pounded to a paste). "I know many cooks rely on a food processor, but I am not much for electrical appliances. I make an exception for the blender, which is extremely useful for puréeing soups and salsas. Otherwise, give me a knife, a wooden spoon and a cast-iron pan," Tanis says.
- Something Sweet at the End of a Meal—He prefers a plate of small sweets, or dried fruits, or candied citrus peel, or Asian bean sweets, or small portions of those intensely sweet Middle Eastern desserts. A little bowl of ice cream or sherbet. Yogurt with honey or good jam is better for dessert than for breakfast.
- Good Ingredients—Pure and healthy ingredients are essential to good cooking, Tanis emphasizes. "The rewards are evident, both in flavor and in the effect on the environment."
Illustrated with color photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer, Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys celebrates simple yet elegant recipes that make us want to cook. This book is about the pleasure of cooking and how that act alone brings people together which nourishes us both literally and figuratively. "Cooking for others is a generous and civilized act, even if it's just a simple pot of beans," notes this wise chef.
About the Author
Six months a year, David Tanis is head chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, where he's been since the 1980s, helping to define the restaurant's wildly influential style. He spends the other half of the year in Paris, where he hosts dinners of international renown. Tanis' French kitchen is a six-by-ten-foot galley with a rickety stove, a small sink, little counter space, and a half-dozen well-used pots and pans. His first book, A Platter of Figs, was released in 2008.
- Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys
- by David Tanis
- Artisan 2010
- Hardback, 344 pages; $35.00 (US)
- ISBN-10: 157965407X
- ISBN-13: 9781579654078
- Information provided by the publisher.
Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys
- Cookbook Profile Archive
This page created February 2011