One Good Dish by David Tanis

I loved cooking from One Good Dish: the pleasures of a simple meal.  First up for me was grilled cheese in a waffle iron, a sandwich so simple I hesitate to even call it a recipe.  It’s an idea—read the name, you pretty much know how to make it.  That amazes me.  David Tanis is so confident, he can use a page to tell you to try just making a grilled cheese in your waffle iron.  Starting right there, this book was a reassuring presence in my kitchen. You will make simple meals. They will be delicious. The most time intensive dish I made was the Swiss chard al Forno, which took two saucepans, one skillet, and one baking dish.  Turned out amazing and I would make it again in a heartbeat. Totally unsurprising, this amazingly talented recipe writer is a graduate of the kitchen at Chez Panisse, in addition to writing the City Kitchen column for the The New York Times. My trust in David Tanis grew with each recipe that I made.  Which is great, because it means that I felt comfortable trying new things.     

I made: Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs and Pepper (p. 20), Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese (p.27), Cheese in a Jar (p. 54), Mackerel Rillettes (p. 80), Olive Relish (p. 107), Rice Porridge (p. 122), Winter Minestrone (p. 144), Swiss chard al Forno (p. 175), Griddled Polenta Scrapple (p. 187), Crispy Potato Galette (p. 203), Golden Coconut Cookies (p. 219), Real Chai Made to Order (p. 248). 

Would make again: Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs and Pepper, Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese, Winter Minestrone, Swiss chard al Forno, Griddled Polenta Scrapple.

Quick answers to important questions: 

  • Is it necessary to spend a bunch of money for new equipment? No.    
  • Are the ingredients expensive? No.  
  • Are the ingredients difficult to find? Not in general, though there is a recipe that calls for quail eggs, which, what?  Must be available in NYC, but not here in Texas as far as I know.  They do look beautiful, though.   
  • Can I use ingredient substitutions?  Yes, the recipes are flexible.  
  • Are the recipes complicated?  No.  Some are crazy simple.  
  • Can I feed kids from this book?  Yes.  
  • Is this book on my side, trying to help? This book says, one good dish can be a meal.  A bowl of soup, with a little bread on the side, is a meal.  A side dish, given the right attention and thought, is a meal.  It’s very friendly messaging for a busy cook.        
  • Is the text of the book helpful and/or interesting?  Yes.  
  • Are recipes on one page or do I have to keep flipping back and forth while cooking?  Most of the recipes are on one page.  
  • Is this book beautiful and would it belong on a coffee table?  The design and photographs are very pretty.  It is not exactly a coffee table book, but I might put it on one—it’s fun to flip through.  
  • Did I learn and grow as a cook while using this book?  Yes, absolutely.    
  • Are ingredients given in weight?  Mostly not, but it’s reasonable for savory recipes.   
  • Is there advice on how to make ahead/store/reheat food? Not as much as I would like, but there is some.  
  • Can these recipes be adapted for different dietary needs? Maybe not adapted, but there are options for all kinds of diets.     
  • Can kids help with these recipes?  Yes.  
  • How delicious is the food? A plus plus. Super delicious.  
  • Are the recipes healthful?  Can they fit in to a balanced diet?  Yes.  Not in a Weight Watcher’s way, perhaps, butI think mindful eating is one of this book’s values.  
  • Is there a set of values underpinning the book?  Yes.  Slow food, mindful eating, using ingredients wisely, Omnivore’s Dilemma kind of vibes.  
  • Good gift?  Yes, absolutely!  Especially great for beginners, but anyone would love this book.     

TLDR: David Tanis’ One Good Dish: the pleasures of a simple meal is a wonderful cookbook.  The recipes are simple and delicious.  This would be an especially great book for someone who has just gotten a kitchen of their own and is interested in meals where one or two ingredients are really allowed to shine.  A useful book for anyone, and a really nice gift.  A+ 

Swiss chard al forno
Mackerel rillettes, Olive relish, Cheese in a jar
Polenta scrapple
Spaghetti with bread crumbs

Find One Good Dish wherever you buy books, or get it from Amazon! Cook, eat, enjoy!

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