In "A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes", David Tanis shows readers how to slow down, pay attention, and give ingredients their due. Worlds away from showy "Food Network" personalities and chefs who preach fussy techniques, Tanis serves up charming, unassuming meals for friends and family: couscous with rabbit and turnip for a special birthday fete, clam and chorizo paella to eat by the fireplace, and turkey with duck confit for Thanksgiving. Tanis has an elemental, unpretentious finesse with ingredients and a genuine gift with words."Dinner with Friends" is deliciously down-to-earth in covering such topics as 'Pretty vs. Beautiful Food,' 'Just a Salt and Pepper Cook,' and 'Parsnip Epiphany.' With his intuitive menus, cooking is a pleasure, not a stress, and the resulting food will enliven any occasion. Menus include 'Supper of the Lamb' (Warm Asparagus Vinaigrette; Shoulder of Spring Lamb with Flageolet Beans and Olive Relish; Rum Baba with Cardamom), 'Too Darned Hot, Alors' (Eggplant and Walnut Toasts; Melon and Figs with Prosciutto and Mint; Deconstructed Salad Nicoise; Lavender Honey Ice Cream), and 'Slow Beef' (Watercress, Beet, and Egg Salad; Braised Beef with Celery Root Mashed Potatoes; Roasted Apples). Tanis is an engaging guide to gourmet eating and every page of "Dinner with Friends" is enjoyable. By the end readers will have learned the inspiration, techniques, and joy of the kitchen that are just as important as the best ingredients.