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Review: Heart of the Artichoke

and Other Kitchen Journeys

Cooking is something that I enjoy. I love cookbooks and enjoy curling up on the couch and reading through recipes and looking a pictures. It is warmth for my soul. My latest find is heart of the artichoke and other kitchen journeys by David Tanis (Artisan). It’s 325 pages of hospitality and cooking as if I were in the kitchen with Tanis.

Berkley’s Chez Panisse is where David Tanis calls home to his kitchen.  Food is his art form and he reveals recipes are “what happens between the concept of a dish and its final result.”  Seemingly this is his mantra as he defines goodness with fourteen meditations on kitchen rituals. He brings home the goodness of childhood with oatmeal and shows the progressive maturation of taste buds with polenta.

I LOVE that even though he calls California home, he recognizes as a Utahn, my kitchen along with my recipes cycle with the seasons. Heart of the Artichoke has an astounding 20 complete menus. The book is divided by season, sharing five full menus for each season we celebrate.

Spring offers menus from the categories of Spring Lamb, Reclaiming Arugula,  In a Sicilian Kitchen, The Flavor of Smoke, and Feeling Vietnamese.  From there it is difficult to resist the temptation of the tastes and textures that unfold in dishes like Fork-Mashed Potatoes, Pork Scaloppine with Lemon, Capers, and Chopped Arugula, Pasta “Timballo” with Fresh Ricotta, Scallion Broth and Pho.

Summer is fused with herbs and get-together worth categories: Spices for a Summer Night, Dinner on the Italian Side, The Promise of Old Bread, How to Fry Fish and Parsley Goes with Everything. Truly the warmth of Summer unfolds in recipes for Tomatoes and Olives with Coriander Vinaigrette, Frozen Cappuccino, Fresh  Peach Ice Cream,, Fish Fry with Piquant Tarragon Mayonaise and Flat Roasted Chicken with Rosemary.

Fall summons with the change of leaves and a harvest of deliciousness in Cooking American, Flatbread Wisdom, Ripeness of Red Chiles, Nearly Vegetarian and The Trouble with Ham. Envision the delight of weather cooling and serving Peppery Chicken Wings, Rosemary and Scallion Focaccia, Slow-Cooked Carne Adovada with Hominy, Wild Mushroom Ragout with Ziti or Peiti Sale with Braised Cabbage.

Winter finds shorter days with Cooking for Tomorrow Today, Dead-of-Winter Dinner from the Supermarket, Sweet Stew, Of Buckwheat and Mussels and Bring Back Tongue. The hearth of crackling fire and family gathered around An Honest Loaf, Classic Potato Gratin, Blood Oranges and Pomegranates with Orange Flower Water, Apple Compote and Walnut and Pine Nut Drops will truly create tastes to remember.

Tanis takes his menu of recipes a step further, laying out four fabulous feasts. Celebrations centered around The Perfect Suckling Pig, How to Spice a Goat, Turkey Deconstruction and Auspicious and Delicious. Each gathering highlights a season of getting together with family and friends.

Heart of the Artichoke is truly a book I admire. Though the recipes sound far from ordinary they are not terribly formal nor regional. The recipes spark imagination and I love his insight. One example is that I LOVE to make bread. I enjoy the entire process. Tanis challenges me to make his recipe and let the dough sit in the refrigerator overnight. I’m can’t help but be curious. My mind is wondering how the cool environment will impact the density, the process of rising. I’m up for the challenge and will be making the Rosemary Scallion Focaccia (page 167) today for revelation and judgment tomorrow.

About David Tanis:
David Tanis was born in Ohio and has been working at Chez Panisse on and off since the 1980s.  He was the head chef at the café before moving to Santa Fe to work as the head chef of Café Escalera.  When he returned to Chez Panisse, he assumed the position of co-Chef of the restaurant, splitting the year with his colleague Jean-Pierre Moulle.  He spends the other half of the year in Paris, where he hosts a private dining club.  He is most recently the author of A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes.

I was sent a copy of heart of the artichoke in order to facilitate an honest review. No other compensation was received. The opinions are my own and in no way influenced by the sponsor. Others experiences may vary.

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