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.