The central concept of David Tanis' new cookbook, A Platter of Figs, is best expressed in the vignette on page 42 describing his "parsnip epiphany." This is a book about cooking seasonal foods simply and skillfully. It's about supporting local farmers, preserving the environment, and maintaining a sustainable kitchen. But most importantly, it's about the pure pleasure of eating a perfectly crisp fall radish, or a concord grape bursting with sweet juice.
For six months a year, David Tanis acts as the head chef at Chez Panisse. Since the 1980s, he has worked closely with Alice Waters to help craft and shape the restaurant's illustrious style. The other half of the year David can be found in Paris, where he cooks casual meals for friends in an apartment that has "a less-than-adequate stove, a small sink, little counter space, and a half-dozen well-used pots and pans."
A Platter of Figs is divided into four seasons and 24 menus with themes ranging from an easy "Bean Soup Lunch" with pears and parmigiano to an impressive "Peasant Fare from a Parisian Kitchen" dinner which includes a pig's ear salad. The recipes are basic and unfussy, yet the dishes are anything but ordinary. To make the parsnips? Season them with salt and pepper, toss with olive oil, and bake at 375ºF for about 45 minutes. The first time David ate them he proclaimed "they were so crisp, brown, tender, and sweet, I thought they were the best thing I'd ever eaten."
Win 'A Platter of Figs'
We'll be excerpting a recipe from David Tanis' new book each day this week. In addition, you can enter to win one of five (5) copies for your very own. Just tell us in the comments section below: what is your favorite, seasonal fall ingredient, and how do you prepare it?
Five (5) people will be chosen at random from among eligible comments below. Comments will close Monday, September 15 at noon ET. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.