Cooking With Curtis
Easy, Everyday and Adventurous Recipes for the Home Cook
by Curtis Stone
It’s hard to bypass a cookbook in which an attractive young towheaded chef is beaming back at you from the cover. Cooking with Curtis could very well be filled with recipes of cooked bugs and it would still sell well, so long as Curtis Stone’s picture graces the front. But luckily, there are no bug recipes, and Stone or no Stone, the cookbook is actually a very smart, elegant take on seasonal cuisine.
For those unfamiliar with chef Stone, he first gained fame as the head chef of Quo Vadis, one of Marco Pierre White's flagship restaurants in London. More recently, he is known, especially by the ladies, as the "Take Home Chef" from the popular TLC show. His style of cooking has always steered toward simplicity and seasonality, using only the freshest ingredients and allowing them to shine in minimal preparations.
Cooking with Curtis naturally reflects this rustic style of cooking. The book is divided into the four seasons, with each of the seasons featuring six main ingredients common to each season: i.e. asparagus in the spring and raspberries in the summer.
With each ingredient, the book offers three preparations: Easy, Everyday and Adventurous. No recipe is beyond reach, and although the Adventurous ones may require more time, they don’t necessarily require more skill. Succulent dishes such as Poached Veal Fillet with Baby Spinach and Chanterelles as well as the Chocolate After-Dinner Mint are both brilliant in their sophistication, yet simple enough to serve at home. With its easy-to-follow instructions and beautiful photographs, Cooking with Curtis makes it fun to take home the "Take Home Chef." Be sure to check out Stone's other book Relaxed Cooking.
More about Chef Stone: an interview with Sophie Gayot
Curtis Stone's Kitchen Solutions line
BBQ Zucchini with Tomato and White Balsamic Vinegar
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ounce salt
3 fresh thyme springs, plus extra to garnish
2 bay leaves
½ fresh chili, de-seeded and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
salt and black pepper
Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 3 pieces and lay on a baking tray. Sprinkle the salt over the zucchini and leave to stand for 20 minutes. Rinse under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper (paper towels).
Preheat a griddle pan or light a barbecue. Coat the zucchini with a drizzle of olive oil and cook on the griddle or barbecue until just colored. Leave to cool then slice the zucchini diagonally into 1-inch pieces.
Place the sliced zucchini in a mixing bowl and keep warm.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a small-medium sized frying pan, add the herbs, chili and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add this mixture to the zucchini, toss well, then pour in the vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to serving plates. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve warm.
Reviewed by Sophie Gayot
(Updated: 02/17/09 KR)