Wine, food's natural partner, is also integral to much of the world's best cooking. Recognizing this, Ann Willan's Cooking with Wine offers 200 delectable recipes for dishes both casual and sophisticated; almost better, it provides direct, accessible information on choosing wine; cooking with it (for example, heat changes its character depending on degree); how American vintages stack up against French; and much more. Willan, founder of the renowned La Varenne cooking school and part-time Burgundy resident, is the ideal person to present her fascinating subject; the large-format book, illustrated throughout with color photos, proves to be a perfect vehicle for her lucid investigation.
Providing a full range of recipes, from appetizers and soups through desserts, condiments, and chutneys, the book offers such unusual temptations as Crisp-Skinned Salmon with Leek, Red, and White Butter Sauces, Lentil and Portabella Stew with Arugula, and Chicken Salad with Walnuts in a White-Wine Dressing. Earthier fare is also included, and readers will enjoy trying their hand at an exemplary version of Beef Bourguignonne, Classic Osso Bucco, and Chili on the Go, a savory rendition that can be quickly composed using ready-cooked beans. Desserts like sweet-wine pastry dough and a red wine and walnut tart with cinnamon include wine in interesting and successful ways, while traditional wine-based sweets like zablione and tiramisu also receive their due. With portraits and recipes from 24 American winemakers like Rhode Island's Sakonnet Vineyards, tips, and a marvelous chart detailing American wines and their counterparts, the book does its subject tempting justice. --Arthur Boehm