A series of prefaces on ingredients and techniques will help new cooks get started, although some instructions are scanty (e.g., in “deglazing,” Rossman doesn’t mention stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the solids). And, given all the wonderful veggie recipes here, I wish he’d included a full recipe for vegetable stock: one can’t just guess which veggies to use. A few ingredients (e.g., lemon avocado oil) are hard to find, and when it comes to achiote paste, a popular Latin ingredient bottled by Goya, Rossman sends readers up to Linda Vista for a product easily found in the central city’s neighborhood groceries from North Park on south.
So far, you’ve heard all my reservations but not enough praise. Most of the recipes in this book sound delicious, and the great majority are easy to shop for and to cook. I like the briefings on beers and wines (and the recipe for crème fraîche, which is hard to find locally). I very much like the wine and beer suggestions with each recipe, including much good local hooch. And I totally approve the use of gyoza or wonton wrappers for homemade ravioli, including Terra’s famous Pumpkin Ravioli and the delicate Spring Onion Ravioli. Some top French chefs in America employ this wonderful shortcut — why not you and I?
Above all, if you’re one of Terra Restaurant’s devotees or if you just prefer eating locally and seasonally whenever possible, you’ll probably enjoy sampling the goodies you’ll cook from these mainly easy recipes, with their distinctive emphasis on our region’s best, freshest ingredients. ■