Lee Schrager, founder of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival and a vice president of Southern Wine and Spirits, admits that before writing Fried & True, he had only prepared fried chicken once in his home kitchen.
Now, he says, he realizes that dipping cut-up chicken in buttermilk, dredging the pieces in seasoned flour and frying until golden brown is “as simple as cooking gets.” His new book, co-authored by Adeena Sussman, serves 50 fried-chicken recipes and stories.
Miami-based grilling maestro Steven Raichlen has carved his cookbook and television niche from live-fire cooking.
For his next trick, Man Made Meals, Raichlen is stepping out of the back yard and in to the kitchen to teach guys essentials like how to mix pancakes, shuck oysters and stir martinis.
At Miami Beach’s Barton G. the Restaurant, an order of Sweet Garden Pots will bring to the table terra-cotta planters embellished with brownie “soil” and emerald-color sponge cakes that resemble moss. In his new The Big Dish, restaurateur and event planner Barton G. Weiss gives detailed instructions for that and dozens of his other customer-favorite whimsical dishes.
He also lets readers know they couple omit the sponge and soil and planters and be very happy with the dessert’s simple peanut butter and banana filling. Still, he writes, “there is no reason that home cooks can’t be inspired to create thrilling experiences for their own friends and family.”
The authors answered questions from the Miami Herald via email about their new cookbooks.
LEE BRIAN SCHRAGER
There are two basic rules: Make sure that you have all of your ingredients ready to go, and that your oil is at the right temperature. Of course, there are plenty of other tips and tricks that the book touches upon, but for the most part, it really is that simple.
There is so much history and love and sentiment in these recipes. Each of the chefs and cooks highlighted in the book learned and perfected their individual recipes and what they ended up with was something really extraordinary.
And I think we needed to really see it — made and served in everyday life to everyday people — in order to do that. The people we met along the way were so good to us, directing us either to someone or some place that we had to visit.
Once I got into, I realized how limited many guys were in their knowledge of cooking basics, so I thought it was time they had a book just for them. No cupcakes. Just big-flavored guy food that every man should know how to make. So Man Made Meals became a sort of crash course on culinary literacy for guys, with a strong activist message on how we should cook and eat in the world we live in today.
When I graduated with a degree in French literature, grilling was the furthest thing from my mind. I went to Europe on a Watson Foundation Fellowship to study medieval cooking in Europe. I wound up at the Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris, so my training was in classical French cuisine.
Andrew Zimmern surprised me with his confession that cooking is how he expresses his feelings: “As a guy, I’m lousy at expressing my feelings. Cooking is as touchy feely as I get.”
But it was Jose Andreas who best summed up the message of Man Made Meals: “If you want to lead the tribe, you have to be able to feed the tribe.”
BARTON G. WEISS
The book not only provides those great food shots, it illustrates the recipes and provides the inspiration and stirs the imagination to create those memories that will last well beyond a night out at a restaurant. Our objective was to show how fun dining can be possible anytime to enjoy with family and friends.
We used every resource to simplify the process and preparation of each recipe. We even hired experts to break down the recipes, so that even the most novice at-home cook could create every recipe in The Big Dish with ease — and have fun doing it! We know there are many cookbooks out there that aren’t easy to follow — we did not want this to be that kind of cookbook.