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Cook the Book: 'Franny's'

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With the abundance of simple, seasonal Italian food in New York these days, it's easy to forget that Franny's was a forerunner. Owners Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens were serving up wood-fired pizzas before most of us cared what type of oven they were using. But with the release of their new cookbook (relatively well-timed to the opening of their new, larger location), Feinberg and Stephens have reminded us of why they were successful in the first place.

The Franny's cookbook is a comprehensive guide to cooking simple Italian food with a Brooklyn accent. Chapters are divided up by course, with a short guide to basic Italian charcuterie added in the middle of the book. As befits the eco-conscious bent of the restaurant, there is a strong emphasis on seasonality and responsible ingredient sourcing—ramps make many appearances. But the bulk of the book is dedicated to pizza and pasta, with detailed tutorials for proofing, shaping, and saucing in conjunction with the recipes.

It is in these tutorials that the Franny's cookbook really shines. With the help of veteran recipe writer Melissa Clark, Feinberg and Stephens have produced a cookbook that is truly instructional. Unlike many aspirational restaurant cookbooks, Franny's is generous, practical, and fun. They've tailored recipes to work in small home kitchens and provide suggestions for tweaking techniques based on the equipment you've got on hand.

This week, we'll try five different courses from Franny's. We'll start with an appetizer of fried zucchini and a salad of dandelion greens with anchovy dressing. Then, we'll move on to a gorgeous plate of marinated rainbow chard, bowls of spicy bucatini fra diavolo, and finally their famed pizza with clams and chiles.

Win 'Franny's'

Thanks to our friends at Artisan, we have five (5) copies of Franny's to give away this week. All you need to do to win a copy is tell us about your favorite simple Italian meal in the comments section below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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