You can tell the difference between the Waters books and the non-Waters books immediately. Waters' volumes tend to be restrained, elegant, a little precious. Paul Bertolli's Chez Panisse Cooking is long-winded, meditative, Italocentric. And Chez Panisse Desserts is overstuffed, mellow, generous, and playful. It is also packed with recipes I want to try, using rose petals, geranium leaves, black raspberries.
The apricot curd finished off the Utah apricots, and yielded a very smooth, tangy dessert. If I had a pastry bag I could have made more artful use of the whipped cream, but this was still the prettiest thing I cooked last night.
It was not, however, the most delicious. That would be the steamed sole with beurre blanc (Simple Food), one of the world's most fattening and excellent fish dishes. God, how do food writers do it? It was heavenly. All superlatives apply.
This gorgeous recipe involved steaming the filets for seven minutes, placing them on a platter, then serving with some beurre blanc. How have I cooked all these decades and never made beurre blanc? You simmer chopped shallot in wine and wine vinegar, then add almost two sticks of butter (!!!), a tiny bit at a time, whisking as you go. It is creamy and superrich, but has a wonderful bite to it. The ideal complement to delicate white sole.
French cooking 101, which apparently I missed.