I was a little intimidated when I first opened Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Splendid Table because it is so crammed with historical discursions and antique illustrations that you suspect this might be a book for the library (doesn't everyone have one?) rather than the kitchen. Not so. Kasper writes clear, detailed and elegant recipes for some extremely complicated dishes. Each recipe includes useful advice for working ahead, buying ingredients, and fitting the dish into a larger menu. Kasper anticipates every question and potential glitch. Do you know how rare this is?
Looking through the book just now I was tempted to give it another month as there are dozens more dishes I want to try -- the chestnut tortelli, the risotto of baby artichokes and peas, the wine-basted rabbit.
I made 38 recipes from The Splendid Table:
Worth the Price of the book: 5
Flat-out bad: 3
I probably would have put the three "bad" recipes in the "so-so" category if these hadn't been three dishes (dry-yet-damp pork loin, soggy green beans, overpoweringly rich potatoes) that I cooked on Christmas Eve when I wanted to show off. I'm still holding a grudge, but may eventually relent.
There were so many more gems: espresso mascarpone semifreddo, the spectacular oven-roasted radicchio, garlic soup Brisighella.
Hard act to follow.