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Finally…a gourmet cookbook for the rest of us! Michael McCarty, owner/chef of Michael’s Santa Monica and Michael’s New York, reveals his secrets for entertaining with simplicity and style in Welcome to Michael’s: Great Food, Great People, Great Party!

Included in the book are 85 recipes from his restaurants—most of which are rather simple. However, though the recipes may not be involved, once you put the components together, the tastes are exquisite. For those of you who absolutely want to work, there are also a few recipes that are more involved. And while some require expensive ingredients, such as lobster and truffles, most of the recipes are accessible to all kinds of cooks with all kinds of budgets.

The success of the recipes in this book depends on using only the best and freshest ingredients and the best cuts of meat. But don’t despair; most are readily available. Michael admits that it’s not as easy for those outside Southern California to get fresh vegetables all year. However, he advises that if you stick with what’s in season, you’ll be fine. Still baffled? He includes a listing of vegetables, fruits, and seafood by season. In separate chapters, he educates you on what to look for and how to choose each. He also explains how to select and care for greens and herbs, including the quality of each and what to use them for.

  
 
Does the whole “which wine to serve with what” confuse you? No need to fret. Michael even de-mystifies the wine issue. For those of you who also enjoy hard liquor, he includes his favorite cocktail recipes as well.

Michael isn’t a chef who’s afraid to reveal his shortcuts. “Believe this! I use frozen French fries to make my world-famous Michael’s pommes frites…any good-quality shoestring cut will do.” Of course, the fat that he uses to cook the fries is also the secret to their taste, but he discloses that, too.

He also provides his favorite sandwiches to make at home, where he uses toasted Bay English muffins instead of the homemade bread from his restaurants. However, you’ll get those bread recipes, too. You’ll also find suggestions for breakfasts and brunches.

Though the desserts at his restaurants are homemade, Michael admits that, for home entertaining, he scoops out several flavors of Häagen-Daz ice cream with Pepperidge Farm cookies. For those of you who insist on baking, you’ll find some his favorite dessert recipes included in the book.

Most of the gourmet cookbooks in my collection consist of recipes that are so involved and time-consuming that the books just sit on the bookshelf. However, the simplicity of Welcome to Michael’s will ensure its place directly on my kitchen counter. The photographs are stunning, and, most importantly, the book’s layout is straightforward. This gorgeous book will definitely be on the top of my Holiday gift-giving list.

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