Turn to Philadelphia chef Aliza Green’s newest cookbook, Starting with Ingredients, for guidance. Green’s approach to home cooking is downright old-fashioned: These recipes don’t look to a celebrity chef for inspiration, but rather to the ingredients themselves. (Celery root was the muse for this autumnal dish of roast chicken and apples. For Green’s recipe, see page 245.) The tome is an exhaustive, if far from comprehensive, collection of more than 550 recipes inspired by 100 common ingredients. Each of these could be, and probably has been, the subject of an entire book, and Green’s attempt to have the final say on the subject — through historical essays, trivia, useful tips — can make this cookbook hard to navigate. But the recipes, many with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, have the approachable, satisfying feel of dishes straight from the author’s kitchen — when the author is a restaurant and cookbook vet who has shared a stove with the likes of Georges Perrier and Guillermo Pernot.
Originally published in Philadelphia Magazine, October 2006