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The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant

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In The Zuni Café Cookbook, a book customers have been anticipating for years, chef and owner Judy Rodgers provides recipes for Zuni's most well-known dishes, ranging from the Zuni Roast Chicken to the Espresso Granita. But Zuni's appeal goes beyond recipes. Harold McGee concludes, "What makes The Zuni Café Cookbook a real treasure is the voice of Zuni's Judy Rodgers," whos In The Zuni Café Cookbook, a book customers have been anticipating for years, chef and owner Judy Rodgers provides recipes for Zuni's most well-known dishes, ranging from the Zuni Roast Chicken to the Espresso Granita. But Zuni's appeal goes beyond recipes. Harold McGee concludes, "What makes The Zuni Café Cookbook a real treasure is the voice of Zuni's Judy Rodgers," whose book "repeatedly sheds a fresh and revealing light on ingredients and dishes, and even on the nature of cooking itself." Deborah Madison (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) says the introduction alone "should be required reading for every person who might cook something someday."


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In The Zuni Café Cookbook, a book customers have been anticipating for years, chef and owner Judy Rodgers provides recipes for Zuni's most well-known dishes, ranging from the Zuni Roast Chicken to the Espresso Granita. But Zuni's appeal goes beyond recipes. Harold McGee concludes, "What makes The Zuni Café Cookbook a real treasure is the voice of Zuni's Judy Rodgers," whos In The Zuni Café Cookbook, a book customers have been anticipating for years, chef and owner Judy Rodgers provides recipes for Zuni's most well-known dishes, ranging from the Zuni Roast Chicken to the Espresso Granita. But Zuni's appeal goes beyond recipes. Harold McGee concludes, "What makes The Zuni Café Cookbook a real treasure is the voice of Zuni's Judy Rodgers," whose book "repeatedly sheds a fresh and revealing light on ingredients and dishes, and even on the nature of cooking itself." Deborah Madison (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) says the introduction alone "should be required reading for every person who might cook something someday."

30 review for The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    If I were traveling and could take only one book with me, I would have to choose between Don Quixote, The Gourmet Cookbook, and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Zuni Cafe strikes a balance between storytelling and instruction- gorgeous recipes, each worth lingering over in the text and over the stove (or chop block). Ms. Rodgers sometimes makes recipes more complicated than they might be, but the improvement in taste and texture validate her suggestions and make the extra time

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dora

    Zuni Cafe Cookbook This book was exactly as described a compendium of recipes and cooking lessons. There was also a fair amount of the author's history with food and the history of the Zuni Cafe. The only thing that I think that could have improved this book would have been more and larger photographs. I love to see photos of the food and there weren't any at least not in the Kindle edition.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cissa

    I have only made a couple of recipes from this cookbook, but have read most of it and am interested in trying more! I am especially intrigued by their renowned recipe for roasted chicken. But- one of the recipes I've used a number of times now is the one for "seafood essence", and that alone is worth the whole book. We occasionally have a lobster feast, and this is a BRILLIANT and efficient way of utilizing the lobster shells and carapaces that would otherwise be discarded. Also, one can save up I have only made a couple of recipes from this cookbook, but have read most of it and am interested in trying more! I am especially intrigued by their renowned recipe for roasted chicken. But- one of the recipes I've used a number of times now is the one for "seafood essence", and that alone is worth the whole book. We occasionally have a lobster feast, and this is a BRILLIANT and efficient way of utilizing the lobster shells and carapaces that would otherwise be discarded. Also, one can save up shrimp shells, frozen, to add to the essence (if one does not use them to make shrimp butter, of course!). The "essence" is a lobster stock- a quick one to make, needing cooking for only an hour or so- then strained and cooked down until one has a tiny amount of pure lobster flavor. (At some point, it is helpful to strain any sludge out of it.) Then put it in a small jar and freeze it. One teaspoon of it can give a lovely lobster taste to almost anything! I am also eager to try her approach to perfect chicken stock. Very recommended! The recipes look amazing in general, and invite explorations. I'm 3000 miles away from the restaurant, and sure wish I were not!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    *Swoon* If I were traveling and could take only one book with me, I would have to choose between Don Quixote, The Gourmet Cookbook, and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Zuni Cafe strikes a balance between storytelling and instruction- gorgeous recipes, each worth lingering over in the text and over the stove (or chop block). Ms. Rodgers sometimes makes recipes more complicated than they might be, but the improvement in taste and texture validate her suggestions and make the extra time and effort complete *Swoon* If I were traveling and could take only one book with me, I would have to choose between Don Quixote, The Gourmet Cookbook, and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Zuni Cafe strikes a balance between storytelling and instruction- gorgeous recipes, each worth lingering over in the text and over the stove (or chop block). Ms. Rodgers sometimes makes recipes more complicated than they might be, but the improvement in taste and texture validate her suggestions and make the extra time and effort completely worth it. When my brothers visit in a few days, they're going to enjoy her Mixed Lettuces with Roasted Cherries, Hazelnuts, and Warm Saint-Marcellin alongside Zuni Roast Chicken and Peach Crostata. Julia Carey, if you haven't been to the Zuni Cafe yet, please go quickly, and tell me all about it!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

    This morning I made the Roasted Polenta, a 7-line recipe of what to do with leftover polenta. Simple and delicious, with poached eggs. After reading about the death of Judy Rodgers last year and how beloved her restaurant is, I decided to check this out from the library (again--I'd forgotten I'd already given it a half-hearted try). Now I think I need to own it. I'm just browsing through it but I think her tips are valuable. There's stuff I never knew (and stuff I did know) but it looks like she This morning I made the Roasted Polenta, a 7-line recipe of what to do with leftover polenta. Simple and delicious, with poached eggs. After reading about the death of Judy Rodgers last year and how beloved her restaurant is, I decided to check this out from the library (again--I'd forgotten I'd already given it a half-hearted try). Now I think I need to own it. I'm just browsing through it but I think her tips are valuable. There's stuff I never knew (and stuff I did know) but it looks like she makes a potentially intimidating recipe accessible. Now I've bought it and I'm glad. ______________________ (from my 2011 review) Not enough pictures. Great pie crust instructions X 3.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    In May 2010 I had the pleasure of eating at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Our meal was truly memorable for several reasons. The food was delicious, visually lovely & Impeccably served. One homeless person stood starring in at the diners, another homeless person received money from a diner who had chosen to sit outside to enjoy her meal. Eating such lovely food felt like a guilty pleasure. As for the cookbook, it is not one I would choose to own. The recipes such as Roasted Guinea Hen with Bay In May 2010 I had the pleasure of eating at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Our meal was truly memorable for several reasons. The food was delicious, visually lovely & Impeccably served. One homeless person stood starring in at the diners, another homeless person received money from a diner who had chosen to sit outside to enjoy her meal. Eating such lovely food felt like a guilty pleasure. As for the cookbook, it is not one I would choose to own. The recipes such as Roasted Guinea Hen with Bay Leaves, Madeira, & Dates would require an extensive investment of time & are out of my reach except perhaps for special occasions. In my humble opinion this book is for the connoisseur cook with plenty of time & money.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Judy G

    Excellent book of recipes and advice for cooking and baking tho mostly cooking by the way too young deceased chef Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. It is so lovingly carefully thought out and written This is a book for an experienced cook and it is very detailed and clear what to do with what and when and how. I was most interested in her famous Zuni Chicken and Bread Salad. I made it based on this. Most of the recipes would not be used by most people cooking for their home. As someone w Excellent book of recipes and advice for cooking and baking tho mostly cooking by the way too young deceased chef Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. It is so lovingly carefully thought out and written This is a book for an experienced cook and it is very detailed and clear what to do with what and when and how. I was most interested in her famous Zuni Chicken and Bread Salad. I made it based on this. Most of the recipes would not be used by most people cooking for their home. As someone who knows and just loves Zuni Cafe for many many years I highly respect her. I learned things from this book that I didnt know about cooking. Judy

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    This is quite the tome, both in size and quality of content. A veritable bible of cooking, this is the long-anticipated accumulation of years of cooking knowledge, beginning in France and extending to years working as a chef in the Bay area, including time spent at Chez Panisse and then of course, in developing the menu at the Zuni Cafe to reflect Judy Rodgers' own personality. We made the Roast Chicken with Bread Salad for Valentine's Day. The recipe was several pages long, took 3 days to make, This is quite the tome, both in size and quality of content. A veritable bible of cooking, this is the long-anticipated accumulation of years of cooking knowledge, beginning in France and extending to years working as a chef in the Bay area, including time spent at Chez Panisse and then of course, in developing the menu at the Zuni Cafe to reflect Judy Rodgers' own personality. We made the Roast Chicken with Bread Salad for Valentine's Day. The recipe was several pages long, took 3 days to make, and it was absolutely perfect. The recipes shared here are definitive, exacting, often laborious, and totally flawless. If you want to learn how to cook like a chef at home, read this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn Dickinson

    I had the fortunate opportunity to dine at the Zuni many moons ago and was, of course, stuck dumb by the utter deliciousness of the food and also thrilled by how simple/brilliant the preparations were. Now after reading the not quite cookbook I understand why. I read that Judy Rodgers has died recently. The Zuni Cafe Cookbook certainly passes on her culinary legacy. The three axioms of cooking... 1) Use the best ingredients possible, 2) Treat them with respect and 3) There are no shortcuts!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nick Klagge

    My review is based not on the recipes in this book (I've only tried a couple of them so far), but just on its quality as a "reading cookbook". The beginning gave me high hopes that it would be a great cover-to-cover read like Shizuo Tsuji. But aside from a couple of short sections, it's basically just recipes--decidedly not my favorite part of a cookbook. Elise and I have made the fried eggs with breadcrumbs a couple of times and really like them. They are about twice as fun as normal fried eggs My review is based not on the recipes in this book (I've only tried a couple of them so far), but just on its quality as a "reading cookbook". The beginning gave me high hopes that it would be a great cover-to-cover read like Shizuo Tsuji. But aside from a couple of short sections, it's basically just recipes--decidedly not my favorite part of a cookbook. Elise and I have made the fried eggs with breadcrumbs a couple of times and really like them. They are about twice as fun as normal fried eggs and barely any harder as long as you have breadcrumbs around.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Angela Boyer

    I borrowed this book from the library because I had heard good reviews about it and was considering purchasing it, but after spending some time with it I have decided not to add it to my personal library. The author does offer some good insight into cooking technique and sizing up ingredients, but the recipes themselves are just not practical (nor economical) for everyday use, by calling for things such as white truffle oil, duck eggs, and fresh sardines. Great for planning a special meal, not f I borrowed this book from the library because I had heard good reviews about it and was considering purchasing it, but after spending some time with it I have decided not to add it to my personal library. The author does offer some good insight into cooking technique and sizing up ingredients, but the recipes themselves are just not practical (nor economical) for everyday use, by calling for things such as white truffle oil, duck eggs, and fresh sardines. Great for planning a special meal, not for fixing a simple dinner.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    more narrative than recipe, the author is deft at combining a wholesome american sentiment into pretty upscale food. every recipe is replicable, which is why i would give this 4 stars, but none are terribly necessary...though i'm sure they're all delicious. who has pickled zante grapes on hand? ever? (though the recipe is in there so you can). but very well written and if you don't already own 40 cookbooks, or just like reading cookbooks, this is definitely worthwhile.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Png

    A GR recommendation. A comprehensive guide for serious cooks. Instructions on tool selections, helpful tips and food guides are meticulously thought out (it even suggests wine for each dish - how superb!). The recipes "represents [The Zuni Cafe's] entire repertory" so if you love the restaurant...The recipes sounds delicious; however, one small criticism: being a dessert-lover, I was also hoping for better and unique recipes. Overall, worth a look!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    By now, we've all had some variation of most of the recipes in this book. Along with Chez Panisse and Oliveto, Zuni Cafe helped bring rustic Mediterranean cuisine into the forefront of American consciousness. Some of the recipes are amazing, but it's the basic stuff that I found most useful and applicable--and that is the stuff that will change your cooking . . . it's all about technique, people, not recipes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anders

    SO GOOD. We've made a bunch of stuff out of this and it's great. The roast chicken with bread salad recipe is transcendent. Her philosophy, which I thought I would hate but which I actually love, is "how can I make this more complicated?" So, you soak the currants in a mixture of warm water and red wine vinegar, for example. Which makes a subtle but stunning difference! Anyway, it's a great cookbook, check it out. Kasia got it really cheap on amazon ($7! new!)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I am only giving this 4 stars because I haven't the wherewithal to know if this should get 5 stars. Of course, I think it should have five stars. I got this after years of hearing about the restaurant and going to SF last year. It was a dream come true in some respects. I ate my last supper there before travelling home the next day. You can get lost in this book. Actual recipes I will make are not numerous but this is an education, like college is an education.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eva Luna

    Another library read, I ended up copying half the book to my online recipe archive. Zuni Cafe is a San Fransisco hot spot. The first recipe I tried was shrimp romanesco, which is an Provencal Italian dish. You make a paste of crusty bread, toasted ancho chiles and a plethora of spices. After baking this paste,you toss in the shrimp and saute. Scrumptious. The seafood and vegetable dishes sound divine.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I picked this up at the library on the recommendation of Michael Ruhlman. I trust his judgement when it comes to cooking and food. This is a very good cookbook and I enjoyed flipping through it, but do not feel the need to add it to my collection. I'd love to visit the restaurant to have some of these dishes, rather than make them myself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Interesting cookbook, but there is almost nothing in here that I want to cook. It would be a fun cookbook for someone without kids and with a large budget and ample free time to prepare the time-intensive recipes, most of which require speciality ingredients. That said, I have made the roast chicken several times, and it is amazing (Google "Zuni roast chicken").

  20. 5 out of 5

    erik

    This is more than a cookbook. It's a compendium of philosophies with contextual stories and recipes to back them up. I don't even know if there's a single reciple in the first 50 pages. Judy Rodgers is so opinionated and so passionate about her subject that every time I get near this book, it's hard not to cancel all my plans for the night, grab a box of salt, and cook all night long.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Martha Smith

    The recipes in this book are delicious. I made some of them for my friends. The cookbook got great reviews for its recipes. The book will teach you how to cook the Standard American Diet and you will follow principals that will be detrimental to your long-term health.

  22. 4 out of 5

    angi

    i haven't even read this whole book but the recipe for zuni roast chicken w/ bread salad alone is worth the price of this book. once you've read this book and tried salting meats early before cooking, you'll never go back.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    The introduction of this book will convince anyone, cook or not, that being in the kitchen and creating food will change your life. That said, this is the hardest and most precise cookbook ever written, I would recommend it more for reading and not use.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I made the famous Zuni roasted chicken--it was really good, and not as hard as I thought it would be. I will definitely make this one again! I think the trick is to find a small bird, otherwise it will not cook in time!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    Honestly, I think I have cookbook fatigue. I read too many. While this was a lovely one, I have seen a lot of this done already. But if you don't read as many cookbooks as me, you'll love it. Also, many meat recipe.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Richardson

    Learned: how to prepare all kinds of vegetables and meats. How to choose vegetables at the store. How to use less seasoning to make more flavor. Mmmm. A whole bunch of delightful dishes. My review: If you have time on your hands and like to cook, check it out.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    This has a some gorgeous, stunning, complicated recipes. I don't reach for it often but when I do, I have never been sad. I can only give this a three though because of the complexity of the recipes.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    it is not just recipes on cooking, it is essays and they are awesome. Fundamentals that are taught and help understand how it all works.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Freyja

    This book fundamentally changed how I cook. The recipes are somewhat lengthy and insane but the ones I have made have been very worthwhile (the chicken stock alone is an education.)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lumindanu

    only a couple of good recipes that I have found.

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