Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tyler Florence Family Meal

I wrote in October of my trip to the New York City Wine & Food Festival sponsored by ShopRite and how I was able to meet Tyler Florence at a signing of his newest cookbook, Family Meal. The event was hosted at Abe & Arthur's and it was the first book signing I've ever been to.

When I entered the restaurant I was handed a name tag and a hard bound copy of the cookbook. If you've read here long enough you'll know that I read cookbooks like any other book; from start to finish like a novel. I sat in the crook of a large booth, settled in with my water and began to read over the book. First, page by page, scanning and taking in the photos, then back to the start to read in earnest. I didn't notice much going on around me (except the flurry of activity when Tyler Florence was ushered in to his seat at the book signing table) and kept reading.

I really couldn't pull myself away. We think alike about food and family on so many levels that I felt I could have written much of what I was reading. The recipes were at once familiar and different and I was intrigued. His fearless use of taboo fats and love for organic and fresh ingredients may not seem to go hand-in-hand, but it works very well and it's something I applaud him for.

When it came time for my book to be signed I didn't close it, rather I stood in line still engrossed with reading and when I stood before Mr. Florence, I think I actually said something completely stupid about not wanting to stop reading long enough to have him sign it. I vaguely recall mentioning the 7 kids and the fact that we'd thoroughly test the recipes. Not sure whether that was a complete failure or not, but it was the truth and I would hope that he'd take it as a compliment.

Kiki's Famous Coconut Cake - Perfection!

I did read it through - several times now - and have made many of the recipes. It's full of tried-and-true favorites from his childhood, from his grown-up family life, from the potlucks shared with neighbors and even recipes from his restaurants. Don't miss the story about El Paseo, the restaurant he and Sammy Hagar opened together. Yes, Sammy Hagar of VanHalen fame is quite the foodie.

The stories throughout give a glimpse into Tyler Florenece's life that you don't get in other books, something you'll be glad you read about. He's far more down-to-earth than most and his love and passion for food are shiningly evident in this tome. The photographs are elegant and homey at the same time, conveying the diversity of Mr. Florence's repertoire.

I took it upon myself to serve up a Sunday Dinner completely composed of recipes from this book and my family responded so well to it that it's now on the permanent dinner roster. What did I make? Chicken-Fried Steak with Southern Milk Gravy (perfectly seasoned), Buttermilk Biscuits (absolutely airy), Parmesan-Roasted Green Beans (my favorite part) and Kiki's Famous Coconut Cake (Divinity!).

Chicken-Fried Steak with Southern Milk Gravy, Buttermilk Biscuits and Parmesan-Roasted Green Beans

The verdict? Oh, well ... let me just say this, the next morning the 6 year-old and 4 year-old were asking if we could have steak and biscuits for breakfast, and the night before the 9 year-old wanted seconds at bedtime! Take note, those are my pickiest eaters. And you know, I have to say, I felt exactly the same way.

Pick up a copy of Tyler Florence Family Meal at the following book sellers:

Barnes & Noble

See more of Tyler Florence at:

Food Network


Unknown said...

I want this on my iPad to use in my kitchen! Mmmmm!

Emily Malloy said...

Looks so good! I enjoy looking at that book each day! ..Just for some creative inspiration :)

Amy said...

yummy yum comfort food. delishity!

Deborah Dowd said...

This whole meal looks so good to me. Chicken fried steak is a favorite of mine (not once I get in the scale). How cool that you got to meet Tyler Florence!