Cooks' Books: Can You Try This at Home?

Rarely the same, but effort offers insight
By Victoria Floethe,  Newser User
Posted Jan 25, 2009 10:18 AM CST
Shopsin's is a tiny restaurant in Essex Market whose extensive menu includes hundreds of comfort-food items.   (©toddross)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Restaurant cookbooks allow you to tap into a chef's genius, but rarely do they yield perfect re-creations of beloved dishes, notes food writer Lauren Shockey for Slate. Shockey tries her hand at recipes from a couple of Manhattan's renowned restaurants— Shopsin's, Carmine's, and Chantarelle—and goes on-site for a taste comparison.

  • Eat Me's recipe for Shopsin's "slutty cakes" (pancakes inspired by the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup) leave out the pistachio ingredient. Editorial oversight? "Or does Shopsin not want people to duplicate his recipes?" Shockey wonders.

  • Carmine's Family Style Cookbook's recipe for "linguine with clam sauce" called for littleneck clams, while the restaurant version used both whole littlenecks and chopped cherrystone clams—and significantly more garlic.
  • Chantarelle's recipe for "cumin-crusted salmon with chive mashed potatoes" came closest to the real thing, but took forever to prepare and required a restaurant-grade blender.
So why are these books so popular? "Perhaps because we aspire to be restaurant insiders," Shockey concludes.