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'I [Heart] NY': Daniel Humm turns to everyday magic

March 28, 2013|By Russ Parsons
  • In Daniel Humm's new cookbook "I [Heart] NY" the ingredients are, for the most part, recognizable.
In Daniel Humm's new cookbook "I [Heart] NY" the ingredients…

All my crazy cooking friends with tweezers and buckets of sodium alginate have spent the last year cooking through Daniel Humm’s “Eleven Madison Park” cookbook, which -- unbelievable as it may seem -- makes “The French Laundry” look like “Joy of Cooking.” So much of that book seems to me like obfuscation. Every ingredient is transformed so it looks like something else. Beautiful, perhaps, but the tricks are just too much in evidence.

That’s just not my thing. But Humm’s new book “I [Heart] NY”, written with Will Guidara, looks much more plausible. Sure, there’s a bit of arranging on some of the plates. And, of course, more than a few foams. But for the most part, the recipes are solidly ingredient based (and ingredients you can recognize -- they haven’t been pureed, gelled, dehydrated and ground into a powder).

FIRST LOOK: Ludo Lefebvre, Vinny Dotolo and John Shook of Trois Mec

Format-wise, the book reminds me a bit of the old Alain Ducasse book, “Harvesting Excellence,” with nicely written profiles of Humm’s and Guidara’s favorite New York state farmers, ranchers, cheesemakers and fishermen. These not only offer the now-predictable praise for agriculture, but also give some of the details behind their process.

But it’s the recipes most Southern California cooks will turn to this book for. And I, for one, can’t wait to try his turn on pea soup made with fresh English peas cooked in ham hock stock and garnished with slow-cooked eggs and pickled shallots.

And summer can’t come soon enough so I can make his upside-down plum cake, topped with a tender almond cake. Or maybe the fresh goat’s milk curd -- like a quick ricotta made with goat’s milk -- with summer berries and roasted beets.

It’s food that seems familiar, until you look closely. And that’s where you recognize the hand of a great chef, performing his magic in plain sight.

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