by: Ithai Schori, Chris Taylor,
with Rachel Holzman
Review by: Mark Palm
I have worked as a cook a few times in the past, but most of my cooking has been done at home, in a variety of different kitchens. So I enjoy cookbooks that emphasize home-cooking, and you would be hard-pressed to find a better one thanTwenty Dinnersby Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor, with Rachel Holzman. As the title suggests this book gives you twenty full meals, five for each of the seasons, with up to five courses, along with drinks, and suggested wines. There are helpful and insightful sections on techniques and terms, as well as shopping, stocking a pantry, and tools. The authors include several other useful sections on the Home Bar, and “mastering” wine.
There is even a small section that I loved about that most-misunderstood vegetable, the ramp, or wild leek. I grew up in the Monongahela Valley in Pennsylvania, and my mother’s family was from West Virginia and Maryland, and they used ramps all of the time, and it’s wonderful to see Mr. Schori and Mr. Taylor’s suggestions how to really make them shine. The author’s also bring in several of their friends to advise on their areas of expertise.
Twenty Dinnersis a cookbook, and as enjoyable and worthwhile as all of the above is, cookbooks live and die on the recipes. This book does not disappoint there. The recipes are killer, from Clams in Bacon Mushroom Sauce, and Grilled Radicchio and Peaches, to their version of The Hamburger. They even take a shot at a Whole Spit-Roasted Pig, something that you don’t find in every cookbook.
The writing is laid-back and casual, but informative. As both Mr. Schori and Mr. Taylor suggest in their introductions, this book is for those of us who don’t want to cook for their friends, but with their friends. The authors also suggest that you tear this book up, write in the margins, and change things around. I would beg you not to, because this is a lovely book, with excellent design and layout, and some solid photography as well. All in all I would say thatTwenty Dinnersis a great addition to any kitchen library.