‘Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook,’ by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana

“Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook” by Anya Fernald with
“Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook” by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana.
(Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony )

If you’ve spent a lot of time at Belcampo, Fernald’s butcher shop and counter at Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, or her larger restaurant of the same name in Santa Monica, you’ll be forgiven for assuming that her first book would be, say, a butcher’s manual, or an ode to sustainable meat. Fernald is the co-founder of Belcampo Meat Co., which encompasses not only restaurants and butcher shops but also an organic farm and butchery in California and another farm in Belize. But instead of taking us to those farms or butcher shops, Fernald brings us into her home kitchen, where she teaches us how to make essential things like sofrito and biscuits and how to can tomatoes. Sure, there are recipes for beef hearts and sweetbreads among the 100 or so given in the book, but the idea is to cook simple, country dishes using techniques Fernald learned during years in Italy and working with Slow Food, the grass-roots organization Carlo Petrini founded to support local, traditional foods. It’s a glorious, slow read — fitting for a pretty book divided into sections labeled, “Welcome,” “Take a Seat” and “Stay a While” — and Fernald surprises not only with an emphasis on vegetables but also with lovely detours into pasta-making and cocktails. The new way of cooking in the book’s title is thus also a profoundly old way: over time, with friends, allowing the ingredients at hand to dictate both dish and dinner. And now, after you come home from Belcampo with a packet of beef cheeks, bavette steaks or Duroc jowls, you have Fernald’s handy recipe for cornmeal spoonbread.

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