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Chef Recipes

Cookbook Sneak Peek: The A.O.C. Cookbook + Suzanne Goin's Fattoush Summer Salad Recipe

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Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM
click to enlarge The A.O.C. Cookbook - ALFRED A. KNOPF
  • Alfred A. Knopf
  • The A.O.C. Cookbook

Much of The A.O.C. Cookbook buzz has focused on the number of years (eight!) it has been since Suzanne Goin published her first book, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. Her second hits shelves in October.

If you've ever worked in any of Goin's kitchens (disclosure, this writer has), it's not terribly surprising. Her dishes are always subtly, thoughtfully evolving from their California roots. They aren't in a hurry to be the next Twitter trend, there are no television tricks or fussy ingredients (though depending on your farmer's market access, some of the produce may be occasionally tricky to source). This is the sort of book where you'll find the hard-earned heirloom tomato, green harissa and marinated labneh salad tips your mom might have given you -- had she the culinary intellect and palate that Goin does.

The book's organization loosely mirrors A.O.C.'s menu, with chapters on Cheese, Charcuterie, Salads, Fish, Meat, Vegetables, Form the Wood-Burning Oven, Desserts. As in her first book, each is then sub-divided by season. Every recipe includes wine notes from Caroline Styne, Goin's business partner and wine director. Read her wine entries, like one for the grilled leek and artichoke salad with burrata and salbitxada (a tomato-almond-chile salad from Catalonia), and you'll soon be wishing you had a Garnacha from the Montsant region in your wine fridge. (Lucky you!)

Get more, and a recipe for fattoush salad with fried pita, feta and sumac after the jump.

A sampling: The "Cheese" chapter includes young goat cheese with figs and Saba vinegar and a gorgonzola torta with walnuts in honey. Pork rillettes with pickled onions and cornichons, duck sausage with candied kumquats and speck with apples, apple balsamic and arugula inspire the "Charcuterie" pages. Later, you'll find and abundance of fish and meat dishes (striped bass with roasted beets, watercress and blood orange butter; braised duck with kale stuffing and Madeira) and vegetables (string and shell bean ragout sweet potatoes with bacon, spinach and romesco). And desserts, so many desserts. Tarts, crisps, crostatas, compotes, coupes.

Like every avid cook, even Goin still stumbles upon new finds throughout the book. Among them: a slow-roasted Romano recipe (p. 204) that evolved from her "near psychotic desire to never waste food," she jokes. The thick beans were a farmer's leftovers, so she bought them for a staff meal and discovered when slow-cooked until "completely wilted, shrunken, and concentrated in flavor" -- with red onions, garlic, fresh herbs, and as always, copious amounts of olive oil -- they were better than the tender haricots verts she was serving to guests. (Yes, it is a good idea to work the staff meal shift.)

Look closely, and you'll also recognize many of Goin's favorite ingredients. Saffron makes numerous appearances, here as arroz negro with squid and saffron aioli, English peas with saffron butter and pea shoots, and scallops with saffron potatoes and blood orange-Meyer lemon salsa. She is one of the few chefs who can make crème fraîche, for so many years touted in what seemed like every newspaper food section and magazine, still sound as tantalizingly rich and creamy as it deserves when spooned on top of crushed fingerlings or alongside sweet persimmon cakes.

This cookbook rendition is also more personal than her first, with cleverly written tales that offer a glimpse into Goin's life beyond the stove. Among them, Goin includes her 6-year-old daughter's salad dressing recipe (not surprisingly, it looks fantastic) and a hilarious lesson of evolving relationships on a trip abroad with her husband, David Lentz. "I am the goofy, overexcited, usually too-nice eternal optimist, and David is the cautious, critical, and chronically worried one who always thinks someone is breaking into the house at night," she says in the header to a lamb merguez recipe with eggplant jam, roasted cherry tomatoes and green olives.

So as not to spoil the anxiety-driven (happy) ending to that travel story, we leave you with Goin's fattoush recipe (on the next page). And better still, her philosophy on the two types of salads in this world, "those that need to be gently and carefully tossed, and the more rugged ones with bold-flavored dressings."

Turn the page for the recipe...

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