Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cooking Inspiration

Do you remember
 where, when or why
 you wanted to cook? 
Of course, I so have emulated 
my Mom's adepts use 
of Italian seasonings with her
 sauce perfection, my Dad's southern dishes,
and certainly was influenced by my Mother-in law's
Bon Appetite and Gourmet accomplishments.
But, truly I consider myself a self taught cook.
I, was the one who read "The Joy of Cooking"
from school to work as a student in 
San Francisco. I was a sponge when it came to 
PBS shows - from Julia Child and Jacques Pepin
to Martin Yan and Jeff Smith along with (of course)
those first few 
books of Martha Stewart.
From the gougere's of Elizabeth David
to posole of Diana Kennedy, I am there.
How lucky then, was I to be here in California
where the birth of a new approach 
to American cooking began?
I so remember the reverence I felt after bringing home
by Alice waters.(4/15/83 - receipt in book!)
Yes, we had eaten at her 'cafe' upstairs along with 
 her former partner-
Jeremiah Towers 'very chic' restaurant "Stars"
but it wasn't until I had this cookbook 
for my own to reference that I began to understand 
the importance of her influence and scope.
I immediately felt, no,appreciated 
the reverence and integrity she brought to the table.
The respect and understanding of the need for fresh,
local, small, organic ingredients and the
 connection of farm to table was palpable  and visionary.
Like MFK, this could be read from cover to cover,
gathering a mindset and philosophy as well as recipes.
There are so many inspirations here...
not how to throw together a meal in two minutes,
but more about what one can achieve with 
honest ingredients, passion and devotion.
Now, as then I use the book as inspiration,
for flavors and  combinations as a base
 from which to build.
The flavors and combinations
 so recognizable now, as iconic- yet
 so new and easy- on any given day.
Here are a few of my favorites...

Whole Baked Garlic with White Cheese-
   and Peasant bread
Potato and Truffle Salad
Spit Roasted (chicken) with-
Anchovy Olive Butter
Corn Soup with Roasted Poblano Chiles
Salmon Baked with Anchovy Butter
Green Bean Salad with Shallots and Chervil
I could go on, but...
 how much fun
would it be for all of us to return
to our own roots (of cooking) this summer
and simply enjoy and make the most of what's at hand?
Truly, I think this is what Alice was
inspiring us to do all along.