Sparks in the Kitchen
Publication Date: December 27, 2005
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From Katy Sparks, who dazzled a devoted clientele at her restaurant Quilty’s in New York City, here is a wonderfully creative collection of recipes and culinary wisdom. It is a book for people who love to cook, enabling you to put to work in your own kitchen the secrets and inspirations a gifted chef can offer, particularly one who now cooks at home for her own family.
From snacks, small plates, and cocktails to relishes and desserts, Sparks makes it clear that good ingredients are all-important. So she offers guidelines on what to buy seasonally, how best to judge freshness, and how to store foods effectively. She loves to combine flavors in unexpected ways, utilizing a wide range of spices and coaxing the essence from fresh herbs and zests.
Whether she is detailing a dramatic dish to start off a special dinner, such as her Oysters in Gewürztraminer Cream (crowned with a nest of crispy fried leeks) or the playful Middle Eastern–inspired creation Spiced Lamb Meatballs in Eggplant “Leaves,” or a simple, satisfying family meal like Grilled Chicken in Marjoram Marinade or Pork Chops Smothered in Lentils, she encourages the home cook to be creative. As she guides you through a recipe, you will learn invaluable lessons: what makes a good soup, ways to keep meat tender and juicy, foolproof methods of grilling a whole fish and roasting a chicken, keys to successful deep-frying. And sidebars like “Leftover Alert” and “Weighing Your Options” encourage you to improvise with leftovers, experiment with interesting substitutes, and create delicious accompaniments.
A pat of one of her compound butters, a splash of her homemade flavored vinegar, or a dollop of her Papaya-Ginger Salsa or Onion-Sage Confit might contribute to the sparkle that makes each finished dish so delicious. Try her Sesame-Roasted Green Beans, Coconut-Simmered Fingerling Potatoes, or Beet Pickled Eggs dipped in Spice-Seasoned Salt for revelations in flavor.
And, if there’s still room, a Sparks dessert is not to be missed. Three different pots de crème, chocolate bread pudding, apple tarts, raspberry tarts, maple tuile cookies, and Mohr im Hemd (individual souffléd cakes drenched in dark chocolate) are among the family favorites gathered here.
Above all, Katy Sparks shares the fun and drama of cooking, interweaving stories from her childhood on a Vermont farm and her odyssey from college dropout to star chef. The kitchen is where she feels most happily at home, and with this book to inspire you, so will you.
Katy Sparks grew up in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. She attended the cooking school at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and had her early training in that city at Al Forno before moving to Seattle. She later worked at the celebrated Quilted Giraffe in New York before opening Quilty’s in SoHo. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Andrea Strong is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, New York magazine, New York Post, Time Out New York, Real Simple, Food & Wine, and Gourmet. She is the author of The Strong Buzz, a weekly blog (www.thestrongbuzz.com) devoted to New York City’s restaurant and food scene. She lives in Manhattan.