Mark your calendar now for a special appearance by chef and cookbook author David Tanis. He currently pens the City Kitchen column for the New York Times, and he’ll be discussing “One Good Dish,” his first cookbook that’s not oriented around complete menus. “One Good Dish” instead offers 100 recipes that exemplify his approach to comfort food – simple and straightforward, yet somehow delivering a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. My copy is already cluttered with bookmarks: ham and Gruyère bread pudding, radishes à la crème, clams with fennel and parsley, polentina alla Toscana, chrysanthemum greens with silken tofu, vegetable pot-au-feu, and more.
Tanis has been a professional chef for more than three decades and is also the author of the acclaimed cookbooks “A Platter of Figs” (a personal favorite) and “Heart of the Artichoke.” He’d been cooking at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Ca. for almost 20 years before, seemingly on a whim, he decided to move to Paris. At the time, he was sharing chef duties at Chez Panisse with Jean-Pierre Moullé, who was missing his own home in Bordeaux. Water’s creative solution to avoid losing her two co-chefs in one swoop: they split the year instead of the work week, so each could have his time in France.
These days Tanis is based in New York but cooks from all over the globe. I often clip recipes from his City Kitchen column (and elsewhere). “One Good Dish” is roughly based on one-dish meals, supported by a foundation of homemade breads, snacks, condiments, a few sweets, and even “A Few Remarkable Drinks.” I love this kind of simple food, spaghetti with bread crumbs and pepper, save-your-life garlic soup, and the ones mentioned above. I include below his recipe for Moroccan carrots, which shows off Tanis’ global versatility.
David Tanis appears Thursday, November 12, at 7:00pm in the Community Room at the Princeton Public Library, for a discussion and book signing. (Hint: holiday gifts!)
2 pounds carrots, peeled
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon garlic, smashed to a paste with a little salt
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Large pinch of cayenne
¼ cup olive oil
2 to 3 ounces feta cheese or ricotta salata, crumbled
A handful of olives
1 small preserved lemon, rinsed, pulp removed and discarded, rind diced (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion
Put the carrots in a pot of well-salted water, bring to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Coarsely grind the seeds in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle.
To make the vinaigrette, put the lemon juice in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add the cumin and coriander seeds, garlic, ginger, and cayenne. Whisk in the olive oil.
Put the carrots in a bow and, using a potato masher, crush them a bit, leaving them fairly chunky. Dress with the vinaigrette and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the crumbled cheese and olives. Sprinkle with the preserved lemon, if using, the cilantro, and scallion.