Book Review: One Good Dish

Title: One Good Dish
Author: David Tanis
Format: e-ARC from NetGalley
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: 5/5

Many times I flip through cookbooks thinking I don’t know the author, only to realize later that I’m quite familiar with some of their recipes. This is one of those cases. David Tanis has written a number of cookbooks, writes for the New York Times, and worked at Chez Panisse. Even without realizing how much I already liked Tanis, I was charmed by One Good Dish. The photography is absolutely beautiful – well lit, well composed, and beautifully edited. But most importantly, it all looks like real food. (That probably sounds a little weird, but seriously, sometimes the food in cookbooks looks too good to be true.) The tone of the book is very conversational and informal, which works fabulously with the unusual organizational style. You see, the way that the book is organized is one of the reasons why I’m absolutely smitten with this book. Instead of organizing recipes by season or by food type, they are vaguely divided by theme. You can see the whole of chapter titles list below in my recipe highlights section, but my favorites were “Eating With a Spoon” (not just soups!) and “Bread Makes the Meal”. I thought it was quite clever to put together a more organic division of recipes, and something I hadn’t seen before. I read a lot of cookbooks, so I’m always surprised (and a little tickled) to see something new.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful cookbook. There are only a few unusual ingredients (e.g. Chrysanthemum leaves!) but there are substitutions included (spinach, in this case). There’s a good variety of vegetarian and meat based meals, and a mixture of the familiar and the somewhat exotic. I was impressed by how many of these recipes I wanted to go home and make. I was even more impressed by how many of these recipes I would be able to make as soon as I got home, even without stopping at the grocery store. This would be a great addition to any foodie’s collection.

Bread Makes the Meal (dishes with bread as a large component)

  • James Cagney Egg-in-a-hole
  • Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese
  • Vietnamese Vegetable Baguette
  • Breaded Eggplant Cutlets
  • Spicy Stovetop Flatbreads

My Kind of Snack

  • Salted Nuts
  • Quail Eggs with Flavored Salt
  • Mussels on the Half Shell
  • Seaweed Salad with Sesame Dressing

A Dab of This and a Dab of That (condiments)

  • Italian Hot Pepper Oil (with an Asian variation)
  • Fresh Pickled Ginger
  • Mustard from Scratch
  • Olive Relish, Black or Green

Eating With a Spoon

  • Save Your Life Garlic Soup (a painfully simple garlic soup that I desperately want to eat now that it’s cold and rainy outside)
  • Egyptian Breakfast Beans
  • Rice Porridge with Salted Egg
  • Semolina and Ricotta Gnocchi
  • Tunisian Meatballs

Vegetables to Savor

  • Warm French Lentil Salad
  • Classic Frisee Salad
  • Steamed New Potatoes with Aromatics
  • Braised Lettuce, Sweet Peas, and Ham
  • Chrysanthemum Greens with Silken Tofu (you can use spinach if you can’t find chrysanthemums)

Strike While the Iron is Hot

  • Scorched Sweet Peppers and Onions
  • Griddled Polenta Scrapple (I wouldn’t call this scrapple, personally, since it calls for homemade pork shoulder sausage rather than the terrifying leftovers of random pig parts)
  • Sizzling Shrimp in the Shell
  • Garam Masala Chicken Liver Salad
  • Crispy Potato Galette

A Little Something Sweet

  • Espresso-hazelnut Bitter Chocolate Bark (calls for bittersweet chocolate)
  • Candied Grapefruit Peel
  • Sweet and Salty Nut Brittle (this looks ridiculously beautiful – I would frame this photo for my house)
  • Ginger Spice Wafers
  • Browned Butter Almond Cakes (with baking times for regular muffins and mini muffins)

A Few Remarkable Drinks

  • Flavored Water for a Heat Wave
  • A Cultured Drink (a yogurt drink – cute name, right?)
  • Caipiroska (one of my favorites)
  • Hot Ginger Tea
  • Real Chai Made to Order
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