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Basic to Brilliant, Y’all

Basic to Brilliant, Y'all

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by Virginia Willis

Ten Speed Press, $35

The genius of Atlanta-based cookbook author Virginia Willis lies in her ability to weave together the distinct culinary worlds of France and the American South. Whether she’s giving readers a recipe for a French classic, such as Beef Daube Provençal, or reinventing a traditional southern favorite like beans and rice by switching out the beans for petite French lentilles du Puy, Willis’s recipes reflect her singular cooking style. That style took root in her grandmother’s kitchen and blossomed while she was at Anne Willan’s legendary French cooking school, La Varenne. In this captivating book, she offers vivid tales from her life in food and a collection of mouthwatering recipes that can be approached two ways: basic and brilliant. Each basic recipe is followed by an endnote—often a clever presentation idea or recipe tweak—that lets you easily elevate the dish to brilliant so that it suits a special occasion. Whichever route you choose, chances are you’ll return to these recipes time and again.

Tasting Notes

Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato and Green Bean Salad (page 58) Roasted sweet potatoes, red onions, and green beans, with a drizzle of honey and lemon, come together in a winning combination of flavors..

Claire’s Dark Chocolate Cake (page 248) This easy-to-make cake is super dark, moist, and not too sweet, and the silky bittersweet ganache is heavenly.


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