Cooking the Books: The Art of Simple Food

This week’s selection for Cooking the Books is The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. It is one of my favorite cookbooks and I use it all the time. Alice’s simple preparations let the ingredients shine through. I’ve given this book out as a gift at least five times and I fully expect to give it out again. I want everyone to know about this book.


Braised Duck Legs with Leeks and Green Olives

  • Duck legs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Leeks
  • Green olives
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Bay leaf
  • White wine
  • Chicken Broth
  • Lemon zest

Carrot Puree with Caraway and Cumin

  • Carrots
  • Garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Cumin
  • Caraway
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Cilantro

Why I chose these

I did not have a hard time picking something new from this book because we want to try pretty much everything; the question was whether or not we had the right ingredients since so much of it is seasonal.

I picked the duck because I’ve never actually prepared duck at home and was eager to try it. Everything I needed for it is either easy to get or I already had on-hand.

Once I picked the duck, I picked four side dishes I thought would be good and had Amanda settle on the final one. We had a lot of carrots and cilantro on-hand, so it worked out well.


The meal was fantastic! The skin on the duck legs was crispy, the meat was tender, the olives stayed firm, and all of the flavors complemented each other well. The lemon zest and the brininess of the olives cut the fat from the duck. The caraway + cumin was a great combination with the carrots. Definitely a dinner for a cold winter evening and a glass of wine.

The carrots probably would have been a little better had I used the food processor to puree them instead of just mashing them by hand. The recipe took quite a while to cook, so it is a good fit for a weekend. Other than that, I’d definitely make this meal again! I have four more duck gets in the freezer, so I’m contemplating it 🤔.

Join us!

If you want to join us in the Cooking the Books challenge, send your posts to! I’ll guest post them here on Cook Like Chuck. Here are some guidelines:

  • Send me a decent photo of the book to use as the featured image
  • Send me photos of the meal you cooked
  • Write a little bit about the book, why you chose it, and how the meal turned out
  • Send me a photo of the recipe

Let’s dust off those cookbooks and put them to use this year.