Stock­ing — and cook­ing from — a pantry the Alice Wa­ters way

The Progress-Index - At Home - - RECIPE - J.M. Hirsch AP Food Editor

When it comes to as­pi­ra­tional cook­ing, it's tough to top Martha Stewart and Alice Wa­ters.

But while you may never master Stewart's frus­trat­ingly per­fect souf­fles and multi-tiered cakes, most of Wa­ters' recipes fall on a more man­age­able spec­trum (though you may fal­ter at repli­cat­ing the as­pi­ra­tionally high earnest­ness with which she presents them).

And therein lies the dif­fer­ence: Stewart's bar is based on per­fec­tion, Wa­ters' is keyed to find­ing sim­ple com­forts in each sea­son.

And that is a pleas­ant no­tion to pur­sue.

Wa­ters, the driv­ing force be­hind Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia's iconic Chez Panisse res­tau­rant and au­thor of nu­mer­ous cook­books, deftly im­bues her of­ten ba­sic and nearly al­ways sea­sonal recipes with feel­ings you want to evoke.

And you can come away feel­ing bet­ter for hav­ing chased the com­fort found in her recipes.

All of this comes to play in her latest cook­book, a diminu­tive vol­ume ti­tled sim­ply, "My Pantry."

In it, Wa­ters walks you through not the ba­sics you should buy, but those you should con­sider mak­ing.

Things like tahini and cho­co­late nut bark, zuc­chini pick­les and gravlax, fresh ri­cotta and vanilla ex­tract. You won't make them all. Even Wa­ters ac­knowl­edges this isn't a to-do list of must-have items.

They are ba­sic, com­fort­ing foods you may want depend­ing on your time and place and mood.

And she's happy to show you how.

CLARK­SON POT­TER VIA AP

“My Pantry” by Alice Wa­ters Recipe be­low adapted from Alice Wa­ter’s “My Pantry,” Crown Pub­lish­ing Group, 2015.

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