Alice Waters, Pared Down

As a professional chef, I cherish Alice Waters’s earlier books full of intricate recipes and exotic ingredients, even though they’ve always left me with a sense of guilt if I’ve, say, substituted the slowly simmered chicken stock in the recipe with a can of broth. But as I thumbed through her newest book, The Art of Simple Food, I noticed something remarkably different: The recipes are, as the book’s title suggests, simple. It’s all part of Waters’s mission to get Americans eating dinner at the table again, and by keeping the recipes easy, she says, one can spend more time searching out ingredients that are locally grown and sustainably raised. Apparently her previous attempts to guilt-trip people into eating locally haven’t exactly worked. Waters also makes an effort to explain some fundamentals of cooking: how to poach (and other techniques), what ingredients to always have on hand, recipes for basic sauces, and more.

The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution, $20.99