Paul Kahan of One Off Hospitality, esteemed co-founder of Fulton Market game-changer the Publican, lauded restaurant Avec, and local icon Blackbird, has a new cookbook on the way that offers home cooks simple, impressive ways to feed their friends. The second tome in a two-book deal with Lorena Jones Books, Cooking for the Good Times: Super Delicious, Super Simple, is now available for pre-order on Amazon and is slated to hit shelves October 15. A hardcover copy costs $35 and a Kindle version will be available for $16.99.
Kahan’s new book, written in collaboration with Perry Hendrix (Avec) and writer Rachel Holtzman, was inspired by the menu at Avec and a memorable trip to Switzerland. Kahan said he and his wife landed to discover two feet of snow on the ground, and friends came to the airport with champagne to split for the long ride to the Alps. When they arrived at their friends’ farmhouse around 11 a.m., neighbors streamed in bearing wine and ingredients to cook over a wood-burning hearth. The merry band drank and cooked late into the night, and in his hazy, jet-lagged state, Kahan wondered: how can we make a cookbook that encompasses this food and community?
Cooking for the Good Times is just that — a direct approach for home chefs to sate and impress their guests and enjoy their time together in an increasingly busy world. This is an intentional departure from Kahan’s tact in his first cookbook, Cheers to the Publican, published in 2017. “That book is pretty complicated because we wanted to capture the nuances of charcuterie and bread baking,” Kahan said in an interview. “I feel kind of bad about that. As beautiful as it is, it’s challenging. A lot of people said to me, ‘I love that book, I love the stories, but it’s really hard.’”
While Cheers to the Publican dwelled on technique, Kahan said the new book is about more than recipes. “It is a cookbook, but food is really the vehicle to get people together and have a good time,” he said. “Everyone likes a good party with good food.” The party starts in chapter one — food to eat while cooking. For Kahan, that exemplifies the spirit of a gathering where everyone hangs out in the kitchen to eat, drink, or even help. Ease figured largely in his thinking: the majority of the ingredients listed in the book are available at grocery stores, so home cooks don’t need to scour the web for exotic items.
“I don’t know that everyone really understands the roadmap of cooking and how you do it, so we spell that out pretty clearly for people,” he said. “...Don’t stress out if it’s not perfect or you can’t find an ingredient. That’s not really what food is for. You want it to be delicious and impress your friends, but people get so freaked out it’s alarming.”
Though he wouldn’t name a favorite recipe in the book, he did call out a brined and braised pork shoulder that’s popular at Avec. The book details a version with pan-charred cabbage (Kahan is a self-professed “cabbage freak”), poppy and caraway seeds, butter for basting, and chnöpfli, an Alsatian take on spaetzle. He’s particularly proud of his spin on roasted whole fish. Rather than roasting first and deboning at the table, which nearly always results in a cold dish, Kahan instructs cooks to debone the fish beforehand and fill the space inside with herb butter. Once roasted, it emerges hot and ready for eating.
Cooking for Good Times is now available for pre-order and will officially launch October 15.