DIN­NER DÉJÀ VU

South­ern Tonight, French To­mor­row

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Cooking -

Jennifer Hill Booker, Pel­i­can Pub­lish­ing Com­pany Hard­cover $28.95 (208pp), 978-1-4556-2292-4

Even chefs want to save pre­cious time and money on gro­ceries, a tricky bal­anc­ing act when din­ing stan­dards are high, but Jennifer Hill Booker has blazed such a trail to the stove. Her se­cond cook­book, Din­ner Déjà Vu, blends both sides of her culi­nary back­ground (South­ern Amer­i­can with French clas­si­cal train­ing) with her con­cept of shop­ping once for in­gre­di­ents to be used in two dif­fer­ent treat­ments. With the de­tailed shop­ping lists at the end of the book, one can plan to make South­ern style Pan-seared Duck Breast with Whiskey Sauce one night, and use the rest of the bird to make Duck Con­fit in the French man­ner the next. The same prin­ci­pal ap­plies to desserts, veg­eta­bles, and even cock­tails, which is sure to please any­one with odd as­sort­ments of half-empty liquor bot­tles from try­ing out a new drink for a din­ner party.

Booker sees many com­mon­al­i­ties be­tween South­ern cooking and rus­tic French fare, in­clud­ing an em­pha­sis on sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents, use of game and fresh herbs, and sim­ple cooking meth­ods like brais­ing and roast­ing to coax out max­i­mum fla­vor. It is easy to com­pare the two cuisines with sub­se­quent recipes and to see that both food­ways share a love for such homey items as rab­bit, pigs’ feet, and chicken liv­ers. The book clev­erly de­notes a French-in­spired recipe with a blue fleur-de-lis in the top cor­ner of the page, while South­ern recipes get a white-on-red star.

The abil­ity to save time in the kitchen de­pends on a well-stocked larder, and there are many recipes for kitchen ba­sics, such as sauces and spice blends, and a chap­ter on pick­les and con­serves to fill it up. Many recipes are easy enough to fol­low, but for oth­ers in­volv­ing trick­ier tech­niques, How-to Guides step in with mul­ti­ple pho­tos and de­tailed in­struc­tion on such things as how pre­pare and eat Blue Crabs or make Pork en Croute.

Color pho­tographs by Deb­o­rah Whit­law Llewellyn add ex­tra verve. From her whim­si­cal por­trait of Booker with a bou­quet of col­lard greens to shots of the chef’s dishes served up in cast-iron skil­lets and vin­tage plates on worn wooden coun­ters, these com­po­si­tions evoke coun­try cooking at its best, French or South­ern.

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