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Chez Panisse Fruit Hardcover – 16 Jan 2003


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Synopsis

The owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, serves up a wide variety of luscious recipes featuring apples, raspberries, strawberries, and many, many other fruits used in a wide range of sweet and savory dishes. By the author of CHez Banisse Cafe Cookbook.

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Some Brilliance, Some Disappointment 5 Nov. 2007
By Brian Sharp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book at a friend's recommendation primarily for the Lamb & Quince Tagine recipe. That recipe was superb! Since then, I've routinely turned to this book looking for innovative ways to use less-common fruits. Recently, pomegranate and persimmon.

Pomegranate is in season here in Texas and I wasn't aware of anything terribly clever to do with the seeds, short of tossing them in a salad (which, sure, it's great, but man can't live on salad alone! Or at least, I can't.) You can do lots with the juice, but you don't need fresh pomegranates for that. I wanted something that highlighted the fresh fruit itself. Her recipes? Any that used the actual seeds put them... on a salad. Come on, Alice!

Then it was persimmon. Persimmons are in season here now too and are dirt cheap and delicious. I also recently had a soup at the French Laundry that consisted of a parsnip, compressed Fuyu persimmon, black truffle puree, and pine nuts, and it was outstanding. So, again, I opened CP Fruit hoping for some really novel flavor combinations with the persimmon. The recipes? The obligatory persimmon cookies, a persimmon pudding recipe that looks fine but very simple, and then some salads. Again, nothing too bold.

Maybe that's Alice's style, although I've eaten a few times at the Chez Panisse cafe (upstairs) and had some really creative and novel things. So I know her penchant for fresh, local ingredients isn't necessarily also about such simple preparations.

As a final note, incidental except that it does affect my use of the book, it's a beautiful book but will not stay open at all. It's the worst of all my cookbooks for that. I brought a squeeze-clamp in from my toolshed to my kitchen explicitly to hold this book open when I use it.

Not to put it down too much, like I said, there are certainly great recipes in here, and even the simple ones are definitely delicious. Plus, each fruit-chapter begins with a few pages of history and usage notes that are interesting and sometimes useful.

I'll put it this way: Don't get this book expecting to have your eyes opened to startling new ways to put fruit to use in cooking. Instead, expect a solid set of relatively simple (and often classic) recipes for using that fruit. Valuable to some, maybe, but not usually what I'm looking for when I head for my cookbook shelf.
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Reference for Highly Seasonable Subject. Buy It. 2 Jan. 2005
By B. Marold - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Chez Panisse Fruit' by Alice Waters and her staff is the companion volume to a similarly formatted and illustrated `Chez Panisse Vegetables'. While I gave the latter volume only four stars, I can give this very similar volume five stars simply because, to my knowledge, there are not many good cookbooks around for fruits alone. And, this is a very valuable type of book to have on hand.

I am constantly reminded of the central insight of Tom Colicchio's book `How to Think Like a Chef' where he points out that chefs do not create recipes then go looking for ingredients. The creative process is exactly the opposite. They look to see what they have on hand and create something based on this. Tony Bourdain reminds us about this in his book, `Kitchen Confidential', when he warns us about the specials of the day, as they are probably built out of ingredients which are becoming a bit long in the tooth to hold much longer in the walk-in refrigerator. This principle becomes writ large with every chef / author crowing about their using fresh, seasonal ingredients. They mention this far less often, but I'm sure they also create recipes and menus based on what is cheap as much as on what is fresh. Since seasonal generally coincides with less expensive, they can tout seasonal and hide their economical self-interest at work. This principle of using what you have also makes me skeptical of really how difficult the old `Iron Chef' premise is for first class chefs, as they really do this kind of thing every day of their working lives, if they are still working in the kitchen. This competition is stressful, but it is simply taking what they every day do to it's extreme.

But I ramble. The whole point of this digression was that cookbooks organized by raw ingredient are a really great resource for the cook who likes to work economically. What can be better in the Fall when apples and pears come into season than to have a book with a nice selection of interesting things to do with apples and pears. The book is divided into thirty-eight chapters, with each giving recipes on a major fruit available in the United States, with the number of recipes corresponding roughly to the popularity of the fruit. Some few chapters cover a family of fruits, as when the Bananas chapter includes a recipe for plantains.

While the larger number of recipes are for desserts, provided I suspect primarily by Ms. Waters' partner, Lindsey Shere and her pastry staff at Chez Panisse, there are also several hot savory recipes and salad recipes using fruit. Two very common uses of fruit with meat, for example, are apples in poulet a la Normandie (Normandy apples with chicken) and grilled duck breast with pickled peaches.

Like the `Vegetables' volume, this book is as comfortable in the armchair as it is in the kitchen. It has the same stylish design and the same delightfully Art Nouveau colored woodcut prints of the principal fruits. The introductions to each ingredient, aside from a terse statement about the fruit's seasonality, are `free form' essays about those things that are most interesting about the fruit. This is entirely fair, as lemons are a far, far more important ingredient to all types of cooking than rhubarb. As Ms. Waters explains, even though rhubarb is a vegetable, at Chez Panisse (and lots of other places as well), it is used in the same manner as sour fruits and it bridges the gap in the seasons between the winter and summer tree fruits.

Unlike the vegetable book, this volume ends with a chapter of general procedures useable with many different fruit recipes. These recipes include galette and sweet pie doughs, biscuits, puff pastry, sabayon, frangipane, sponge cake, and pastry cream. While these recipes are great to have on hand in a book of pie ingredients, you may prefer to go to a book from a pastry specialist such as Rose Levy Beranbaum, Nick Malgieri, or Wayne Harley Brachman for expert advice on crusts. I take Miss Alice's claim that her pate sucree recipe will never get tough and will not shrink when baked. I will not even test this statement, as I am quite happy with the piecrust I am used to. I doubt the claims for this recipe in that it is almost identical to the one I use, which does get tough and does shrink unless I take special care in handling it.

If I were editing this book and had but one suggestion by which it could be improved, I would make the selection of recipes across fruits just a bit more uniform. For example, there is a recipe for blackberry jelly, but no recipe for orange marmalade. On the other hand, almost all the classics are here, such as applesauce, Moroccan preserved lemons, and pears poached in wine. What would be the value of a book on fruits if you could not go to it for the standards?

I would buy both volumes simply because they look very nice on my shelf. The fact that they come with the Chez Panisse imprimatur doesn't hurt. And, rest assured that not only are the recipes in this book worth having, they are very accessible though an excellent table of contents and a description of the procedure which is easy to read, easy to follow, and informative. Like all of Ms. Waters' cookbooks I have reviewed, they may not be the best for the total novice. There is lots of advanced advice, but a fair amount of knowing your way around the kitchen is assumed.

Like playwright Jean Anouith who bought a green bound book on Joan of Arc to fit an empty space on his bookshelf, he ended up reading the book and writing a famous play `The Lark' on Joan of Arc. This is the kind of book from which good things can spring.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Big Morsel for Repertoire and Soul 17 Jun. 2003
By Vanessa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Alice Waters and the staff at Chez Panisse forged the standard for fresh cuisine. Instead of an overwhelming emphasis on abstract-innovations and culinary interpretations, Panisse offered diners a glorious showcase of products at their best, in the most bare and most essential.
This cookbook offers home cooks and curious readers insight into the ground-breaking process that changed the way we think about produce. From the get-go, the book's appeal is not in its starkly modern and sophisticated food styling or photography. Rather, the visual impact imparts a sense of familiarity and comfort; as if it were a relative's old cookbook to rummage through, full of beautifully printed fruit.
Listed alphabetically, each chapter offers practical information such as the history, popular use, and general availability of the fruit. Keep in mind (as Waters does) that much of the produce available to Panisse is do to the abundance in agricultural activity around the Berkeley area. However, this should not sway readers and cooks toward the negative. On the contrary. More knowledge of certain produce, local or exotic, continually empowers the curious foodie to venture into new unknown territory and inquire for it at farmer's markets, the road side stand, or supermarket.
In other words, demand what you can get, appreciate what's available to you, and use it wisely, letting the fullest flavor come through. Berries in New England, citrus in California, or peaches in Georgia, the book offers a well-spring of knowledge and recipes that follow the Panisse dictum.
The fact that the book isn't jam-packed with recipes I view as a positive. Waters offers a taste of what can be done. The rest, the new, can be devised by the Panisse chefs AND the home cook thanks to an arsenal of knowledge.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Reference 18 July 2002
By Joanne Oler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book provides an excellent reference guide for learning about different varieties of fruits, the cooking methods they are best suited for, and how to look for and purchase the best fruits. The recipes are simple, designed to showcase the flavor of the fruit, not to disguise it. The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful, I would love to have them framed for my kitchen walls! This book would make a wonderful gift for any cook, but particularly those who enjoy shopping the local farmers markets for seasonal produce.
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Sets The Standard for Cooking with Fruit 3 May 2002
By rodboomboom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What a lovely, thorough book. The illustrations alone are so well done, one wants to cut them out and frame them. They are just outstanding, done by Patricia Curtan.
They support an encyclopedic presentation alphabetically of cooking with fruits, from apples to strawberries. On each fruit there is generally an essay on its history, purchase helps, prep, storage and of course, recipes.
Here there is a wonderful bevy of things to use fruit, from cobblers, sherberts, jams, appetizers, entrees, drinks, etc.
Some that will find their place in my recipe collection to prepare and serve include: Pork Loin Stuffed with Wild Plums and Rosemary, Tangerine and Chocolate Semifreddo, Sauteed Scallops with Citron.
Being my first Alice Waters cookbook, one can easily see why she is recognized as one of our best gourmets.
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