What a treat to be asked to make recipes from books written by both Melissa Clark (Cook This Now) and Nancy Silverton (The Mozza Cookbook). They call this work? I love the philosophy in Melissa's book — you may know intellectually that you should cook in season but only when you brave a Brooklyn farmer's market in the dead of winter do you really have the challenge of actually cooking with seasonal ingredients. I adore Melissa's writing: it's as delicious to read as the recipes promise to be. You feel that you're right there with her smelling and tasting at the freezing farmer's market. She has the knowledge of someone who is passionate about food and who has put in the time to study and learn. This kind of knowledge doesn't come easily — it comes from loving the subject and jumping out of bed every morning anxious to start the day cooking. I also love that Melissa isn't a food tyrant. In every recipe she has variations and suggestions on how to make each recipe yours. "If you're in a meaty mood, feel free to lard the pot [of White Bean Stew] with a ham hock or two." This is a cookbook writer with the confidence in her reader to let them be creative. How refreshing is that?
However, Nancy Silverton's recipes, I have to admit, are more aligned with my style of cooking. Nancy loves flavor that hits you in the head — food that's filled with texture and a style that is both old world and yet very modern at the same time. I love that her idea of her restaurant and pizzeria Mozza is that it's not just about the food, it's also about the atmosphere — and I find that her recipes have the same spirit. These are the kind of recipes that are so earthy that you want to share them. Her stunningly delicious food takes simple Italian ingredients and whips them into flavorful dishes that are traditional but with a modern twist. Recently, I made the Olives al Forno, which were olives warm from the oven and infused with garlic, lemon, orange, and rosemary. Not only did the house smell wonderful but I couldn't stop eating them. Next, I made Burrata with Speck, English Peas, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It's not easy to infuse burrata with enough flavor but the speck, peas, and mint provided the right balance with lots of flavor — and texture — to bring out the best in the creamy burrata. Finally, I tackled what seemed to be one of the most challenging recipes in the book but one that Nancy is so well known for — pizza. I chose to make the Funghi Misti, Fontina, Taleggio, and Thyme Pizza. It took some time to make but the results were absolutely delicious — and so worth it. Now I'm looking forward to a wonderful autumn working my way through many more recipes in The Mozza Cookbook.
In 1978, Ina Garten left her job as a nuclear budget analyst at the White House to pursue her dream of working in the food business. While working for President Carter, Ina came across an advertisement in The New York Times for a specialty food store in the Hamptons. The next day, she and her husband Jeffrey drove up to see the small store in Westhampton, New York. To her surprise, two months later, she found herself the owner of a 400-square-foot food store called Barefoot Contessa.
Eighteen years later, Barefoot Contessa had grown to a 3,000 square foot store in East Hampton, New York and Ina decided it was time to shake things up. She sold the store to her chef and manager and tried her hand writing cookbooks. The first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, was published in 1999 and to her surprise was one of the best selling cookbooks of the year. She has since gone on to write five more phenomenally successful cookbooks, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Barefoot in Paris, Barefoot Contessa at Home, and Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. In addition, her current book Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That? was published in the fall of 2010 and became an instant bestseller. Ina has been a monthly columnist at House Beautiful and in prior years at Martha Stewart Living and O, the Oprah magazine.
In 2002 Food Network approached Ina to do a cooking show based on her cookbooks and her love of entertaining. Ina was reluctant but decided to challenge herself to do 13 shows. That was 8 ½ years ago and her Emmy-winning cooking show, Barefoot Contessa, is one of the highest rated shows on Food Network.
In 2005, Ina, with her friend and business partner Frank Newbold, started a company called Barefoot Contessa Pantry, which produces the highest quality baking mixes and are distributed to thousands of specialty food and gift stores around the country.
Ina lives in East Hampton, New York with her husband, Jeffrey.
When Melissa Clark says Cook This Now, she means it literally — the recipes in her cookbook are grouped together by month. We love how this makes a trip to the farmer's market such a breeze! And we can't resist the sheer range of Nancy Silverton's expertise in all things Italian: from marinated mozzarella with bottarga to pork meatballs, from mushroom and Taleggio pizza to butterscotch pudding.
Inspired by The Morning News' Tournament of Books, we got together with
our friend Charlotte Druckman and created the Tournament of Cookbooks.
Here on Food52, you can watch the action and weigh in on the results as
the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year vie for the coveted Piglet
trophy. The tournament features top food writers and chefs as judges.
Play will take place over the course of 3 weeks, with a decision
published each weekday.
The 2012 Judges