My Family Table by John Besh Review

Fried Chicken & Other Classics Reminiscing about the family memories of his grandmother and a Miss Ruth who helped the family, Besh states, “I’ll forever debate the virtues of Grandmother’s and Miss Ruth’s recipes and will never decide on a winner.  It was never a competition anyway, just each woman cooking from her heart.”   He gives a page of frying advice and offers recipes such as Sweet Potato Chips, My Grandmother’s Fried Chicken, Miss Ruth’s Fried Chicken, Pan-Fried Pork Chops, and Fried Catfish.

Barbecue Wisdom  “Few meals are as memorable to me as the great barbecues in my life.  When it comes down to it, barbecue is all about seasoning the meat properly and cooking it either quickly on the grill, or covered, low and slow, over indirect heat.”  Try such recipes as Dry-Rubbed Pork Ribs, Dry-Rubbed Smoked Chicken, Baked Beans, Grilled Corn on the Cob, Tender Slow-Cooked Beef Brisket, and Roasted Red Pepper Salad. Go hog wild and make Cochon de Lait and accompany it with Grilled Avocado and Tomato Salad.

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Jazz Brunch “So much more than just another meal, Jazz Brunch is a celebration of our passion for food and music and can happen at a funeral or a wedding. Any day is a great excuse for this celebration of life.” This chapter is for entertaining, and Besh offers his recipes for Pickled Shrimp, Warm Alsatian Onion Tart, Roasted Pear Salad, Blue Crabs Sausage Stew, Crab-Stuffed Avocados, Crown Roast of Pork with Dirty Rice Dressing,

Goose for the Holidays “The children will be spoiled today with gifts of chocolate and impeccably wrapped toys.  Branches of Tannenbaum are twisted into every conceivable shape, to fill each room with green life.”  Besh makes a great Roast Goose (nicely illustrated with photos to aid the eye) with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Mulled Cider, Braised Red Cabbage with Apples & Onions, Creamy Lentil Soup, and a sweet Chocolate Torte.

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Drew Makes a Cake & Other Desserts “Each of our four boys is so very different: each is so beautiful.  But they are quite competitive.  Ever since Jack claimed that he was the first one to bake a cake, Drew became determined not just to bake the cake but to supply the berries, too.  One thing is sure, every time I cook with Drew, Luke, Jack, or Brendan, I can’t help but think: these are the best of times.  I know this is as good as it gets; these just might be the best times we’ve ever spent dong anything.”  Get in the kitchen with your kids, or borrow a neighbor’s and make such delights as Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Brendan’s Apple & Pear Crumble, Our Favorite Strudel, Brown Butter-Molasses Cupcakes, Black Forest Cupcakes, Chess Pie, or a lavish Hummingbird Cake.

There are gorgeous color photos by Maura McEvoy throughout, some illustrating technique, some of the family, and many of the delicious food that will soon grace the home cook’s table. My Family Table is lavishly and respectfully produced by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

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Besh states: “I thank my family for both the grounding and inspiration that they give me, and for the patience, they showed as I have evolved as a man, father, and a chef.  If asked what my last meal would be, I’d reply, ‘any Sunday supper at home, cooked with love, for people I love.'”

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