Despite its restaurant-quality presentation, Linton Hopkins' Sauteed Georgia Trout with Watercress Puree and Mandarin Salad featured in Adam Roberts' Secrets of the Best Chefs, is a relative breeze to prepare (for a chef-y dish) and worth any extra minute of effort. The trout is simply salted and seared, skin-side down for a crisp crust and barely-cooked flesh. A puree of watercress, leeks, and cream forms the base of the dish, and the whole kaboodle gets topped with a bright, bracing salad of mandarin oranges, fennel, dill, radish, and parsley. It's a beautiful plate of food, and tastes even better than it looks.
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It'd be a shame to pass over a described as a "masterpiece." Full stop. In Secrets of the Best Chefs, Adam Roberts is totally enamored of Melissa Clark's recipe development process. And his adoration is most evident in his headnote to Clark's recipe for Seared Duck Breast with Garam Masala and Grapes. It's a relatively simple recipe (duck breast gets an hour-long rest with garam masala and salt before being seared, finished in the oven, and topped with a pan sauce of grapes, cinnamon, and balsamic vinegar) with show-stopping results.
Broccoli and cauliflower are staple vegetables in my kitchen, so I assumed I'd eaten these brassica in just about every way possible. But Daniel Patterson's recipe for Grilled Brassica with Dandelion-Green Vinaigrette in Adam Roberts' Secrets of the Best Chefs proved me wrong. Patterson grills an assortment of brassica--including vibrant romanesco and leafy rape and cicco--until well-charred and tender. He plates the vegetables with plump bulgar wheat, a squeeze of lemon, and (best of all) a verdant, bitter dandelion vinaigrette.
Alice Waters has built her reputation on simply prepared, fresher-than-fresh produce-based California cuisine. When Adam Roberts visited her in Berkeley while writing his Secrets of the Best Chefs, she spoke of salads and cheese tacos; but it was her Olive Oil Fried Eggs with a Crown of Herbs that left the greatest impression. She gently fries up to six eggs at a time in an ample pool of olive oil showered with upwards of half a cup of chopped herbs. The eggs turn a bit crisp on the bottom, but stay velvety on top--crusty, garlic rubbed bread is all that's needed to accompany the simple dish.