When I lived in NYC in the 1980s and was just getting my cooking chops, I relied on weekly column in the “New York Times” by Pierre Franey called 60- Minute Gourmet. His recipes were straightforward and easy to prepare, but have an element of surprise or sophistication that distinguished them. I cut them out each week and stuffed them in a folder. For the next twenty years or so, I pulled out and searched through the yellowed wrinkled newspaper clippings at least once a month. A few years ago, I walked into a wine store in The Springs, East Hampton, owned by Pierre Franey’s son Jacques. I was looking for Long Island wines, but encountered a surprise treasure. Behind the counter were copies of a hardcover compilation of recipes from my beloved column entitled, Cooking with the 60-Minute Gourmet, by Pierre Franey and Bryan Miller. Finally I could throw out all the old scraps of newspaper! Although Pierre died in 1996, his recipes live on and on at my house. Here are my favorites:
We are into week 7 of our condo remodel and have been eating dust for the past 4 weeks. No stove, no oven, no dishwasher, no countertops, no sink, and thus no cooking. And the outlook is grim … 2 more weeks of drywall dust, then 3 days to finish the floors, then finally …. Finally … the kitchen gets installed. As a result, I have little to say on the recipe front, and probably won’t cook up anything new for another month. To entertain myself, I’ve be reading through my three favorite cookbooks, pulling out old recipe favorites, planning on what I will cook once I have a kitchen.
My three favorite cookbooks are
- How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman – appropriately named, this cookbook covers everything from boiling an egg to preparing coq au vin. It is more like an encyclopedia than a cookbook, and offers clear concise directions on how to cook, well … almost everything.
- The Soup Bible, by Debra Mayhew – Even though its 88 degrees out, I still crave soup, and The Soup Bible has a great collection of over 200 soups that use spices and herbs abundantly. The Thai Chicken and Noodle Soup is easy to make, and packed with flavor. I usually add vegetables to this recipe and make it a one dish meal. Double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for an easy to prepare weekday dinner.
- Finally, my most recent add my favorite cookbook list – The Cancer Fighting Kitchen, by Rebecca Katz. This cookbook is filled with nutrient dense recipes perfected by Rebecca who aside from being an amazing chef, has an MS in health and nutrition education and has spent many years working with cancer survivors. This cookbook is a great gift for anyone you know undergoing chemotherapy, or anyone who wants to eat more healthfully. Rebecca’s recipes rely heavily on spices and herbs for their healing powers and to season creative recipes. Try the Mediterranean Lentil Salad, or the Healing Tea. Both are exceptionally good. Thanks to the healing tea, I have cut my wine and coffee consumption dramatically. Now, I just reach for a cup of tea instead of a glass of wine.
Any of these cookbooks, married with our appropriately named “Wedding Box” makes a great wedding or housewarming gift. And Rebecca’s cookbook, The Cancer Fighting Kitchen, is a great gift for anyone you know undergoing treatment for cancer.