I usually buy restaurant cookbooks to relive the glorious meals I’ve had at different places: The Greens, Chez Panisse, Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café, to name a few.
But I have no love for Franny’s, the restaurant. Although some of the food is delicious, some is merely ordinary and I never get a warm, friendly vibe from the place. Since there are so many other worthy restaurants in my neighborhood, I’d rather give my money to another place.
But the cookbook, Franny's: Simple Seasonal Italian, is another story. This wonderful book, by owners Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens, along with NY Times food writer Melissa Clark, has so many wonderful – and yes, simple – recipes that I want to dive into it again and again.
I opened it to a fall soup with tomatoes, fennel, pumpkin and escarole. Amazingly, I happened to have all the ingredients on hand – even some fresh sage and rosemary still clinging to life in my garden.
The soup was rich and incredibly flavorful. Many of the recipes have ‘Andrew’s notes’ at the end, and this one gives a substitution for the Parmigiano rinds that are called for.
I just throw these into the freezer whenever I have them, figuring I’ll find some use later – what a great way to enrich the soup.
Of course, the pastas and pizzas really shine, like penne with spicy cauliflower and spaghetti with chickpeas, perfect for a pre-marathon carbo-load. The pizza recipes are accompanied by a fool-proof pictorial that provides the secret to perfect pies.
Although most of the cookbook centers on family-friendly fare, the adults-only cocktail section offered infusions and bitters that will improve any home bar. I am eagerly awaiting the Greenmarket return of ramps so I can make the pickled ramps for the Ramp Gibson.
Even my husband, who has vowed never to return to Franny’s, was seduced by the cookbook.
“Maybe we can give it one more chance,” he said.
I’m right behind you.