Best cookbook yet!

I’m making my 2009 resolution list, crossing off ideas, writing others in permanent marker and dreaming about the future. While my dream home varies from beach-front to mountain-top, the one constant is a nice kitchen with a giant garden to keep it well-fed. I never expected to love cooking and entertaining as much as I do, but if there were ever a chance to become a professional baker, I’d jump. You can imagine how thrilled I was to receive Alice Water’s “The Art of Simple Food” for Christmas.

Learning new things. Thanks Alice!

My mama, she is a smart cookie. I was on Twitter the other day raving about how much I loved this book when another person commented that if I liked Alice, I should check out her right-hand man, David Tunis. He recently wrote a cookbook called “A Platter of Figs.” Without a moment of guilt for spending yet another $30 on myself during the holidays, I scooped this book up this weekend and have been reading it ever since.

Did you know you can steam fish?

Tunis’ story is funny, honest and simple — like his cooking. He makes mouth-watering meals from basic foods and sticks to seasonal and local eating. He and his partner split their time — 6 months in the Bay area working with Alice Waters at Chez Pannise and 6 months in their European home, where they prepare fabulous meals for friends. Sounds like a dream!

Extras for the halibut dinner

I’ve only cooked one thing so far from either — steamed halibut. I didn’t know how to cook halibut (fish is new to my kitchen), so I pulled out the cookbook and took Alice’s advice. Ten minutes steamed and I had a piece of fish so flaky and tender, it melted. It was wonderful.

Dinner for one

I am looking forward to fewer giant community dinners in 2009 and more intimate meals with a few friends at a time. “A Platter of Figs” is catered to feeding 8 people a three-course meal. This sounds just about right. Tunis is also a fan of using meats not typical in American kitchens, namely rabbit and duck. It is going to take the right group of friends to want to come over for this sort of menu, but I think I’ll be able to round up a few. I intend also to make Ms. Waters and Mr. Tunis great friends of mine in the new year.

And that resolution list will be posted by the end of the week. I’m still editing and dreaming.