Table talk with Judy Allen
The buzz on Tulsa’s tastiest products, restaurants and events.
Allen and her father, James Lockhart, with Wolfgang Puck.
Christmas … a few months early
I was incredibly fortunate to be able to take my father — himself an avid home cook — out to dinner to meet Wolfgang Puck. We got to sit down and chat with the celebrity chef on his new home turf at Wolfgang Puck Bistro in Brookside when he was in town recently.
“We should all support our local people — restaurateurs, farmers, etc.,” Puck responded when I asked about the abundance of local food and sustainability trends and headlines. “I always believed that you have to be interested in your community if you want your community to be interested in you.”
I asked Puck what his five kitchen desert-island necessities would be.
“My espresso machine runs 24 hours a day,” he says. “My wife is Ethiopian, and we all know how good Ethiopian coffee is.
I have two double espressos and a cappuccino every day before I leave the house.”
Now we know where that endless energy comes from.
The rest of the list? Sharp knives, a good stove (he uses a Viking), good heat and good pots and pans.
Looks like good taste runs in the family. His 5-year-old son recently gave him the “what for” when Puck cooked some thin wedges of sweet potatoes to look like carrots.
“Who bought these carrots?” his son shouted with a look of disgust, after realizing he’d been duped. “I want soup!”
With restaurants established all over the country, Puck is now going worldwide. Cut, his super-chic steakhouse already in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, is scheduled to open soon in both Singapore and London. However, Puck is happy with the decision to add to Tulsa’s restaurant scene.
The eaten word
Just in time for the holiday season, whet your appetite for baking, cooking or just satisfying your eyes with gorgeous photography with these new standouts.
“Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson (Chronicle Books, $40)
Whether you are a home baker or professional bread maker, this is the book for you. Chad Robertson, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, is co-owner, with his wife, Elizabeth Prueitt, of the infamous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and is considered by some to be the best bread baker in the United States. His recipes and unique baking style were honed over two decades of apprenticeship with the finest artisan bakers in France and the United States, as well as by experimentation in his own ovens.
“Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40)
Dorie Greenspan says she burned her parents’ kitchen down when she was 13, didn’t bake so much as a cookie until she was married and was pursuing a doctorate in gerontology before she took up food writing. Inducted recently into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, she has co-authored books with Julia Child and Pierre Hermé, was Elle magazine’s first food writer and has been a frequent guest on NPR’s “The Splendid Table.” Her book is filled with 300 of her favorite “elbows on the table” food from her time in France. Fall in love with France all over again — or for the first time.
“Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes” by Harold McGee (Penguin Press HC, $35)
Whenever I have a culinary dilemma, I turn to Harold McGee. His acclaimed culinary bible, “On Food and Cooking,” helps solve any cooking crisis. His new authoritative guide is designed to help home cooks navigate the ever-expanding selection of ingredients, recipes, appliances and the like, translating everything culinary out there into immediately useful information. McGee helps in the selection and preparation of produce, gives insights on kitchen safety and helps solve recipe problems before they happen. Every home cook should have a copy at the ready.
“Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home” by Nigella Lawson (Hyperion, $35)
It’s no secret that I have a huge crush on Nigella Lawson. I love her charm in the kitchen, and her cookbooks — “How to Eat,” “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” and “Feast” — always leave me inspired, and wanting to be more of a domestic goddess myself. Her new book, “Nigella Kitchen,” is no different. It offers feel-good food for cooks that, in true Nigella fashion, is comforting yet stylish. It’s also appropriate for any occasion, whether dinner for one or a dinner party. She even gives tips on how to feed people spur of the moment with a well-stocked pantry.
“The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century” by Amanda Hesser (W.W. Norton & Co., $40)
This book, if nothing else, will be one for eternal reference. Food writer Amanda Hesser (a columnist for The New York Times, as well as an acclaimed cookbook author) went through the enormous backlog of New York Times recipes (which goes back 150 years) from chefs, home cooks and food writers and updated more than a thousand of them. Her chapter introductions showcase the history of American cooking, and her witty and fascinating headnotes share what makes each recipe special.