Salad Days: Main Course Salads for a First Class Meal

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9780684822617: Salad Days: Main Course Salads for a First Class Meal
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The author of Death by Chocolate and Desserts to Die For brings his creative approach to main-course salads, with such creations as Penne Pasta and Spinach with Oven-Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Toasted Walnuts, Curly Endive, and Cracked Black Pepper Vinaigrette. 35,000 first printing. Tour.

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Review:

Anytime El Nino has the price of a head of lettuce breaking the $2 barrier, it's time to march to the cookbook shelf for inspiration. Reaching for Salad Days is well in order, for Marcel Desaulniers has produced an elegant little book that gives salad a refreshing spin.

A lovely chapter on greens leads the book, and Desaulniers follows right along with chapters on beans, grains, and fruits. But these are only the baseline ingredients, the bedrock on which a grand, dinner salad might be built. This book is all about building, about mixing and matching. One is tempted to believe that Desaulniers played with paper dolls as a child, for the same theory is at work: Once the outfits are cut out, it's simply a matter of assembling the final production according to one's taste.

Take, for example, the salad of sliced beets, curly endive, red bliss potato salad, honey mustard roasted walnuts, and meaux mustard vinaigrette. There are four separate recipes at work here, which might seem intimidating at first. But it's all really quite short and sweet. A minimum of muss and fuss, and then on to the assemblage.

But here's the kicker, having given you the recipe for the baseline assembled salad, Desaulniers gives the reader two ways to stretch, in this case with recipes for walnut-crusted stripped bass on the one hand, and honey duck stir-fry on the other. By adding either ingredient, what started as an elegant dinner salad changes into an entrée salad. A main course.

Desaulniers' primary and obvious point of concern is the home cook. He works up his recipes in a home kitchen, with home kitchen equipment and appliances. He writes clear and encouraging recipes, lists all the tools a cook will need, and slathers on the insider tips. The net effect of all this is to bring the home cook right into the heart of real cooking. And there's a whole world of difference between that and following a recipe. --Schuyler Ingle

About the Author:

Marcel Desaulniers, executive chef and co-owner of The Trellis Restaurant in Colonial Williamsburg, has been named in Food and Wine's Honor Roll of Chefs and in Cook's magazine's Who's Who of Cooking. In 1988 he became the first chef from the South to be honored by the James Beard Foundation as a Great American Chef. He has been inducted into the American Academy of Chefs, the Honor Society of the American Culinary Federation, and he is on the Board of Trustees of the Culinary Institute of America. In addition, The Trellis Restaurant has won Restaurants and Institutions magazine's prestigious Ivy Award.

Desaulniers is the author of The Trellis Cookbook; Death by Chocolate, which won the James Beard Award as the Best Baking and Dessert Book of 1992; The Burger Meisters, which won the James Beard Award as the Best Book on a Single Subject in 1994; Desserts to Die For, which in 1995 won both the Julia Child Award for the Best Book in the Bread, Other Baking, and Sweets category and the Cooks' Choice award; An Alphabet of Sweets, with art by Nancy Thomas; and, most recently, Death by Chocolate Cookies. The host of the immensely popular Death by Chocolate and Burger Meisters television series, Marcel Desaulniers lives, writes, and cooks in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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