COOKBOOK REVIEW: Restaurant-quality meals at home

"Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly" by Dan Kluger and Nick Fauchald (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35)
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"Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly" by Dan Kluger and Nick Fauchald (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35)

“Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly” by Dan Kluger and Nick Fauchald (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35)

Dan Kluger paid his dues for two decades under some of New York’s most famous chefs before opening his own restaurant, Loring Place, in Greenwich Village in 2016. He cleaned artichokes and fried calamari at Danny Meyer’s famed Union Square Cafe before moving up the ranks and on to other renowned kitchens. At each stop, he absorbed lessons in building and balancing flavors and textures.

Before setting out to write “Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35), Kluger knew the challenges of explaining to friends and diners how to re-create his popular dishes at home. Professional cooks have skill sets and kitchen set-ups radically different from that of home cooks. This accounts for why so many of my chef-driven cookbooks remain for looking and not cooking.

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If my experience with making his Raisin-Stuffed Pork Loin and Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Vinaigrette is any indication, “Chasing Flavor” is destined for splatters. This is a testament to Kluger’s ability to break seemingly daunting tasks into simple components, as well as the book’s genius organization.

Throughout the chapters are dozens of multipurpose “building blocks of flavor” – from Apple Gastrique used to drizzle Roasted Acorn Squash with Spicy Granola to the Crispy Shallots that garnish Little Gem Salad with Sesame-Soy Dressing. With every recipe, he offers a quick “takeaway” with applications beyond the book’s pages, be it calling out a new technique or an unexpected flavor pairing.

I’m counting the days when I’ll feel comfortable enjoying a full-fledged restaurant experience. For now, I’m grateful for this user-friendly guide to help me bring a little fine dining to my own little nest.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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