Bruce Moffett Cooks

Bruce Moffett Cooks, A New England Chef in a New South Kitchen, with Keia Mastrianni, UNC Press 2019, hardcover $35.00, 304 pages

…a good meal in troubled times is always that much salvaged from a disaster.

A. J. Leibling

Bruce Moffett, at his restaurants, and in this book offers good meals that will calm and comfort in thee troubled times–Sweet pea Risotto with Pea Butter, Butternut Squash Soup with Chowchow, Lobster Rolls with on Brioche with Fingerling Potato Chips, Lemon Bars, Cinnamon Buns, and Blueberry Bundt Cake.

These are dishes that sound like they could have from his grandmother Craig’s kitchen. Moffett grew up in Rhode Island and learned to be independent–cooking for his family and helping in the vegetable garden while his single mom ran between school and work. At his grandmother’s house he learned to be both disciplined and meticulous–how to cook a perfect soft-boiled egg, buying fish off the boat, and sweet corn from the farm.

After college he bounced around, landed at the Culinary Institute of America, and eventually landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he runs three restaurants, has learned to navigate Southern seasons, and has built himself a restaurant family. So this book is not all home cooking, the recipes are buffed with a chef’s polish–Mushroom Soup is served with a truffle whipped cream, Arabiatta Pizza is served with drama and a fried egg, and Moffett draws on a wide and international pantry.

He starts out the way I do–building the pantry with jars of sauces, salsas, cures, and pickles. Bright flavors of herbs, vegetable, citrus, and vinegar that spark a meal and brighten leftovers. Apple Chutney, Garlic Confit, or even Pickled North Carolina Shrimp will elevate a chicken breast, pasta bowl, or salad into something special. It’s a sensible and creative base to cook from.

The recipes run through a full table–small plates to snack on with friends, soups and salads when you need color and crunch, meat and seafood main dishes, and Garganelli with Italian Sausage when the cold wind calls for pasta.

In sidebars, Moffatt reflects on learning to adjust to Southern seasons and culinary traditions, developing his own skills and those of his staff, finding like-minded suppliers, and overcoming the real estate challenges faced by non-chain restaurants–it’s all a glimpse into his kitchen. With a generous sharing of his life’s highs and lows, this book reflects its author–Moffett’s own development of flavor and master the skills of self-sufficiency.

About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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