A Platter of Figs; Heart of the Artichoke; & One Good Dish by David Tanis

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 5:26pm -- JDavanza


On September 19, 2016 the library's Cookbook Club met for dinner with three cookbooks by David Tanis.

They included:



A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes published in 2008 by Artisan (Workman Publishing Co.).

Heart of the Artichoke And Other Kitchen Journeys published in 2010 by Artisan (Workman Publishing Co.).

One Good Dish: The Pleasures of a Simple Meal published in 2013 by Artisan (Workman Publishing Co.).

David Tanis was born in Dayton, Ohio into a Jewish family with a housekeeper who didn't let him in the kitchen. He left for college in California where he had the freedom to get into the kitchen and learn to bake, before heading off to a commune in Washington state. This is where he tasted his first fresh artichoke.

David has connections to two other chefs we've cooked from in our monthly meetings--Alice Waters and Deborah Madison.

David worked for Alice at Chez Panisse for about 25 years (until 2011) where he split his work year with co-chef Jean-Pierre Moulle, spending half the year working at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California and half the year living in Paris where he wrote his first two solo cookbooks. Those cookbooks were born out of the menus from his private supper club, which hosted diners from The Whitney Museum of Art and the composer Stephen Sondheim.

David worked at Chez Panisse on-and-off during those 25 years and was able to open Cafe Escalara with Deborah in Santa Fe, New Mexico--two Chez Panisse chefs who share the same passion for seasonal and fresh simple food.

With the success of his cookbooks, (A Platter of Figs was chosen as one of the 50 best cookbooks ever by the Guardian/Observer) he decided to devote more time to writing.

He writes the weekly City Kitchen column for the New York Times.

Club Rating: 4.1

Club Comments:

"Recipes utilize seasonal ingredients and fairly simple techniques in nicely balanced menus." M.H.

"They seemed approachable. I liked the 3-4 course menus. An entertaining narrative! Made me feel inspired to throw a dinner party." K.M.

"Made six of the recipes in A Platter of Figs, so I guess I liked them!" A.W.

"Loved the simplicity of the recipes." K.M.

"Simple to make. Very interesting recipes." B.V.

"Made several recipes, some so simple and some so complicated. Would have liked more photos. Some recipes need more clarification/info. The serving size in each recipe is not easy-to-find. Would help to live in California to be able to have all of the ingredients available." T.H.

"I liked this book. Have one complaint, some of the recipes did not say how many it feeds." O.H.

11 out of 14 club members would recommend these cookbooks to a friend. 3 out of 14 club members were familiar with David Tanis before this meeting.

David lives in Manhattan with his partner Randal.


Selected Recipes

A Platter of Figs (2008) Includes 24 seasonal menus meant to be served family style on platters. This book received praise by Alice Waters, Deborah Madison, Michael Pollan and Madhur Jaffrey.

  • Hazelnut Sponge Cake p. 31 
  • Rum Baba with Cardamom p. 67 
  • Vietnamese Cucumbers, p. 78 
  • Deconstructed Salade Nicoise p.100 
  • Lavender Honey Ice Cream p. 103 
  • Corn, Squash, and Beans with Jalapeno Butter p. 111 
  • Almond Biscotti p.189 
  • Roasted Pepper Salad p.193 
  • Octopus Salad with Pickled Onions and Pimenton p. 229 
  • Green Chile Stew on p. 255
  • Italian Spice Cake p.56 

Heart of the Artichoke (2010) Over 150 recipes for small, medium, and large cooking (just you, 4 to 6, or a crowd).

  • Tabbouleh, p. 93 
  • Peppery Chicken Wings, p.156 
  • Scalloped Corn p. 161
  • Raviolone with Butternut Squash in Butter and Sage p. 172 

One Good Dish (2013) 100 recipes that focus on David’s approach to comfort food which are all meant to be eaten any time of day without accompaniment (quite the opposite of his other two menu-based books). This book received praise by Yotam Ottolenghi and David Chang.

  • Nicoise Salad on a Roll p. 23 
  • Gorgonzola and Walnut Crostini p. 28 
  • Vietnamese Vegetable Baguette p. 31 
  • Chrysanthemum Greens with Silken Tofu p. 172
  • Golden Coconut Cookies p. 218 
  • Flavored Water for a Heat Wave p. 235








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