A new book by Alice Waters is always a cause for excitement and celebration in the food world. Alice is a legend in her own lifetime. The original concept for Chez Panisse, the simple restaurant she opened in Berkeley, California in 1971 was a place where she and her friends could cook French country food with local ingredients and talk politics. In 2001Chez Panisse was named No. 1 restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine. As the restaurant’s popularity gathered momentum through the years so did Alice ’s commitment to organic, locally grown food. She cultivated a community of farmers and artisanal food producers to provide the freshest ingredients, grown and harvested with techniques that preserve and enrich the land for future generations.
After 30 years the innovative spirit and pure intense flavours continue to delight those who eat at Chez Panisse. Alice Waters started a quiet revolution which has inspired chefs and cooks from coast to coast and has resulted in a renaissance of interest in local, organic food in season.
Alice graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1967 with a degree in French Cultural Studies and trained at the Montessori School in London before spending a seminal year travelling in France. She opened Chez Panisse in 1971, serving a single fixed-price menu that changed daily. The set-menu formula remains to this day and is at the heart of Alice’s philosophy of serving only the highest quality products, only when they are in season.
Alice is a strong advocate for farmers’ markets and for sound and sustainable agriculture. In 1996, in celebration of the restaurant’s twenty-fifth anniversary, she created the Chez Panisse Foundation, to underwrite cultural and educational programmes that demonstrate the transformative power of growing, cooking, and sharing food. Her new book, Chez Panisse Fruit a sequel to Chez Panisse Vegetables, has more than 200 recipes for sweet and savoury dishes featuring fruit, plus helping essays on storing and preparing fruit, I’ve chosen a few of my favourite recipes so far for Autumn. Chez Panisse Fruit, by Alice Waters, published by Harper Collins, New York in 2002.
Lamb Tagine with Quinces
3 lbs (1.3kg) boned lamb shoulder, cut into 2 inch cubes
Salt and pepper
2 onions, peeled and grated
3 tablesp. unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick
1 heaped teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, or ½ teasp. ground ginger
½ teasp. saffron, crushed
2 lbs (900g) quinces
2 tablesp. honey
juice of ½ lemon
Trim off and discard excess surface fat from the lamb. Season the meat
with salt and pepper. Cover the bottom of a heavy stew pot with oil, heat,
add the meat, and brown lightly on all sides over medium-high heat. Do this
in batches, if necessary, to avoid crowding. When the meat is browned,
reduce the heat and pour off the oil. Add the onions, butter, cinnamon
stick, ginger, saffron, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook for about 5 minutes,
stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in
enough water to just cover the meat and cook, covered, at a gentle simmer
until the meat is tender, about 1½ hours.
While the lamb is cooking, wash the quinces, rub off any clinging fuzz, cut
each quince into 8 wedges, and core them. Do not peel: the peel
contributes texture and flavour to the stew. Place the wedges in lightly
acidulated water to prevent them from browning. When the lamb is tender,
taste the stew for saltiness and adjust as needed. Add the quinces, honey,
and lemon juice and simmer for another 15-30 minutes, until the quince
wedges are tender but not falling apart.
Rocket Salad with Pomegranates and Toasted Hazelnuts
1 cup (scant 2oz) hazelnuts
1 pomegranate, (about ½ cup seeds)
6 generous handfuls of rocket (arugula), washed and dried
½ tablesp. red wine vinegar
1½ tablesp. aged balsamic vinegar
6 tablesp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F (200C/regulo 6)
Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and toast until golden, 12-15
minutes. Take them out when they are just golden brown in the middle; check
by cutting a nut in half. They will continue to cook after they come out of
the oven. Allow them to cool off a little, rub them between your hands to
remove most of their skins, and chop them coarsely.
To get the seeds out of the pomegranate, but it in half horizontally and
smash the fruit onto a plate, cut side down. Most of the seeds will come
out. Remove the remaining ones with a spoon.
Put the rocket in a large salad bowl and add the vinegars, olive oil, and
salt and pepper to taste. Toss, making sure that all the leaves are evenly
coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the hazelnuts and
pomegranate seeds, toss again and serve.
Upside-down Pear and Red Wine Tart
Makes one 10 inch tart, serves 6-8
Alice says that the balance of tart and sweet in this tart is especially
pleasing when there is still red wine in your glass.
1 x 750ml bottle red wine
1 cup (7oz/200g) sugar
2 x 2 inch pieces of cinnamon stick
6 large pears (Bosc, Bartlett or d’Anjou)
1 x 10 oz (275g) piece of puff pastry or rich shortcrust.
In a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon
sticks, peppercorns and cloves. Shave long strips of zest from the orange
with a swivel-bladed peeler and add them to the wine mixture. Slice the
oranges in half and squeeze in the juice. Quarter, core and peel the pears.
Add the pears to the wine mixture and simmer over low heat for 20-30
minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat and let the pears cool in their
poaching liquid. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days at
Preheat the oven to 400F/200c/regulo 6.
Remove the pears from the liquid and set them aside. Strain the poaching
liquid, return it to the saucepan, and reduce to about 1 cup (8fl.ozs).
Roll out the dough to about ? inch thick into an 11-12 inch circle. In a 10
inch ovenproof sauté pan or cast-iron frying pan, arrange the pear pieces in
concentric circles, core side facing up. Pour ½ cup (4 fl.ozs) of the
reduced poaching liquid over the pears. Cover the pears with the circle of
dough, tucking the overhang between the sides of the pan and the pears.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. Let cool for 10
minutes. Remove the tart from the pan by placing a rack over the pan and
inverting it. Some of the hot juice may come off the tart, so it is best to
invert it over a baking sheet to avoid making a sticky mess. Push the
pears back into place if necessary, and let the tart cool for another 15
minutes on the rack. Serve with crème fraiche or vanilla ice-cream and
serve the leftover wine reduction as a sauce.
Pork Loin stuffed with Wild Plums and Rosemary
Alice recommends finding a source of local certified organic pork to use in
1½ lbs (700g) wild plums or Santa Rosa plums
1 bunch rosemary
2 tablesp. olive oil
2 tablesp. brandy
2 tablesp. sweet wine (Beaumes de Venise and port are good choices)
½ cup (4 fl.ozs) water
salt and pepper
1x 6 rib pork loin in the piece, chine bone removed
The plums can be prepared a day in advance. Split the plums in half and
remove the stones. Cut the halves into small wedges. Peel and chop the
shallots finely. Strip enough rosemary leaves off the stems to make a
scant half teaspoon, chopped.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the shallots and the
rosemary, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, until wilted. Add the
brandy and flame. Add the sweet white wine, bring to a boil, add the plums
and cook for 3 minutes. Add the water and mash the plums with a potato
masher or whisk. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook
at a simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring often to keep the
plum paste from sticking and burning. Taste and adjust the salt as needed.
Let cool completely before stuffing the pork loin.
To stuff the loin, take a sharp knife and cut along the rib bones to
separate them from the meat. Cut almost all the way down, leaving only 1
inch of the loin attached to the bones. Make a lengthwise pocket for the
stuffing, cutting halfway into the roast, where the meat has been exposed
from the bones. Liberally season the roast all over with salt and pepper;
this will give it a delicious crust. Season the inside of the pocket and
stuff it with the plum paste. Press the pocket closed. Slice the second
lemon as thin as you can. Arrange the lemon slices and rosemary sprigs
between the bones and the meat. Gently push the roast back into its
original shape. Using cotton twine, tie up the roast with one tie between
each rib. Now the loin is stuffed with the plums in the middle and the
lemon and rosemary between the ribs and the meat. It can be roasted now or
covered and refrigerated for up to a day.
If the loin has been refrigerated, take it out of the refrigerator at least
1 hour before roasting. Preheat the oven to 365F/190C/regulo 5.
Put the loin in a roasting pan, bone side down and roast for about 1½ hours,
until an internal temperature of 130F is reached. Start checking the
temperature with an instant-read thermometer after an hour, but be sure to
insert the thermometer into the meat, avoiding the line of stuffing. When
the roast is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 20
minutes in a warm place. Remove the twine, carve into individual chops, and