The Home Cook
Recipes to Know by Heart
By Alex Guarnaschelli (Clarkson Potter; $35)
In her debut cookbook, Alex Guarnaschelli jokes that she became a chef just to keep up with her family. (Her mother is famed cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, and apparently her dad was no slouch in the kitchen, either.) Trained at La Varenne Culinary School in France, she worked at Guy Savoy in Paris and at an American Place and Daniel in New York City. Now a familiar presence on TV cooking shows as well as mom of a 9-year-old daughter, Guarnaschelli knows full well what it’s like to cook at home where there’s no one but you prepping your ingredients or washing your pots. To that end, her recipes are very accessible—a term chefs hate but home cooks love. Her roast chicken may be spatchcocked (back bone removed and flattened), but the ingredient list is just chicken and salt. Indeed, part of what’s so enjoyable about her book is seeing so many recipes that fit, easily and with white space, on a single page. Though straightforward, the recipes, such as Orecchiette with Bacon, Lemon, and Cream, are sophisticated and appealing. Unlike in many chef-written books, desserts get a lot of attention. Guarnaschelli loves to bake—she calls cake her favorite food group—and it shows, much to the reader’s benefit.