My zealousness w/ Zuni continues. Last night I made a belated birthday dinner for my brother and looked to Zuni, once again, for sage guidance. And, once again, Ms. Rodgers and her recipes delivered and delighted. The salmon preparation was my own creation, but everything else came out of the book. My menu, a photo of my favorite dish, and a link to Kodak Gallery for 4 pics of the full meal are below.
Each further immersion into this book reveals something new and unexpected. This time, I noted that never had I felt so calm and relaxed while preparing a "fancy" meal. Cooking w/ Zuni was pure Zen. While recipes are simple, there's an attention to detail and harmony around taste, texture, and color. Nothing seems to be done for show. It's exciting when a cookbook and culinary approach matches me in a way that induces calm rather than stress. Dare I say, I may have found my soulmate of cookbooks.
Everything in this cookbook strikes me as utterly delicious, but some people may not get turned on by this kind of food. So this cookbook may not be for everyone. Another caveat: given that Zuni is based in the SF Bay Area and emphasizes local, seasonal ingredients, I imagine the recipes may be more difficult for cooks living in other regions where requested ingredients may be harder to come by. If you're not adept at or comfortable w/ substitutions, then Zuni may not be Zen.
However, I couldn't easily acquire a number of requested ingredients (I have a general rule to not go to more than 2 stores for provisions) so made my own substitutions. Rodgers herself often suggests variations. My menu is below w/ called for ingredients in parentheses. The crostini (pic below) was a WOW dish consisting of raw favas, crushed hard-cooked eggs, green garlic (my addition), EVOO, S&P, and smoked albacore. Let me plug a local seafood biz where I got the albacore from that does mail order (www.davesalbacore.com). Thanks for letting me share and hope you enjoy the photos!
Crostini w/ fava-egg salad and smoked albacore (smoked trout)
Mixed greens salad w/ roasted cherries, walnuts (hazelnuts), and Couturier goat cheese (St. Marcellin)
Wild king salmon w/ asparagus, navel orange segments, and "pickled" radishes
Strawberry balsamic sorbet