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This is a familiar story with a significant twist.

The familiar part. Two men attend the CIA, the nation’s premier culinary school. They go on work at premier restaurants: Gramercy Tavern, Blue Hill, and Alan Ducasse at the Essex House. They have an idea: open up our own restaurant. They look at Manhattan real estate prices and realize they must start small and start in Brooklyn. And they do. In a very small space. So small, they can’t open for lunch because the customer tables are used during the day for food prep. The actual kitchen is a mere four by six feet with one six-burner stove top.

Despite the size issues, the quality is unsurpassed. Their restaurant, Battersby, was an instant, incredible success. What do you do with that success? Close your first space and move on? No, that’s the twist in the story. They keep the space but they do open a second spot down Court Street in Cobble Hill. That means you can still enjoy the wonder of the original Battersby.

That enjoyment can be achieved by visiting the restaurant itself. Or, you can pick up this book and sample the key recipes at home. Can home cooking duplicate the actual restaurant? Most definitely. There is a wonderful philosophy behind both Battersby the restaurant and Battersby the cookbook. Because of their small space, the dishes at Battersby often have to be prepared in stages. Some of the dish is prepared in advance, hours or even days before. Then, at the end, the components are assembled in a fashion that beams “freshness.” It’s not obvious that parts were cooked hours or days before.

So the recipes in Battersby come in two parts: To Prep are the steps you can conduct in advance and To Serve are the last moment actions you take for completion. The completion often involves some anointment with sauce or cheese or greens or herbs. You get a brand new visual layer with pointed flavors to add further dimension to the dish.

Battersby is written for the American home cook and the typical American kitchen. What kind of dishes await you? Here’s a very typical example of Battersby excellence: Garganelli with Chicken Sugo and Peppers:




It is the layers that provide both visual and tasting depth in these recipes. You probably have had potato gnocchi served with a sauce. Here the recipe becomes Potato Gnocchi with English Peas, Ramps and Chanterelles. You’ll find Roasted and Raw Cauliflower with Currants, Capers and Hazelnuts. Do you like beets, that sharp flavor? Imagine Vanilla Glazed Beets with Gorgonzola and Walnuts.

Battersby food will overwhelm you the intensity and vibrancy of multiple components. What is wonderful about this book is that it lets you fashion these creations in your own kitchen. The recipes are doable and delicious. Don’t wait. Grab a copy and starting layering. And, if you are looking for the perfect gift for a culinary friend or family member, Battersby is a gift that will go on giving for year after year. Battersby is a perfect cookbook. Perfect.