A few months I was sitting at the Rowes Wharf Bar in the Boston Harbor Hotel when I had a chance meeting with Chef Daniel Bruce. Being a neophyte in the kitchen and a newbie to the restaurant scene in Boston, I didn’t realize until later that I had just met a “celebrity chef” who is as well regarded as any in the city of Boston. There were several VIP’s in the bar that evening (Daniel had just finished hosting a wine tasting with these esteemed guests) but this very busy man spent twenty minutes talking with me, just a regular Joe Schmoe, about food, wine, parenting, and whether or not the Patriots would be able to re-sign Darelle Revis. (No such luck on that one.)
After doing a little research on the internet, I found Chef Bruce’s Simply New England cookbook. I was in the middle of taking of a six class basic cooking course at the time, so it was serendipitous that I would meet a great local chef who had written a cookbook with clear directions, photographs, and recipes designed to take under an hour. The book includes a foreword about how he arrived at the Boston Harbor Hotel, along with his story in his own words about his journey as a chef.
Since I tend to do more baking than cooking I decided to start with a simple recipe from his book: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes. Mixes had always worked just fine for me, but after making these pancakes for my girlfriend we both agreed that the Bisquick ship has sailed away for good. These were, by far, the best pancakes either of us had ever tasted.
A few weeks later I was set to attend an “appetizer party” so I decided to push myself a little further by taking on a more challenging recipe: The New England Artisan Cheese Pie with Cider-Tossed Salad Greens. While shopping for the ingredients I remember thinking that I had bitten off more than I could chew, but a couple of hours later I had impressed my friends, who know me primarily as a baker, by serving the most delectable dish at the party.
Meeting Chef Bruce at the Boston Harbor Hotel was a real treat, as are the dishes he has shared with us in his Simply New England. I highly recommend picking up the book or downloading it to your Kindle. You will not be disappointed.
Ever since the Pilgrims sat down with the Indians on the first Thanksgiving, the foods of New England have been part of our national identity. In this beautiful cookbook, acclaimed chef Daniel Bruce of the Boston Harbor Hotel invites you into his home to enjoy contemporary New England cuisine. This is the new New England, as interpreted by a man who grew up eating off the land, then cooked professionally in Italy and France, worked alongside the legendary Alain Sailhac at Le Cirque, and was Executive Chef at the 21 Club--all by the age of 27. It’s food that’s respectful of tradition yet thoroughly modern, fiercely seasonal, and showcases local products. And it’s food that tastes hotel-dining-room luxurious but is shockingly simple to prepare. Because when Daniel is at home cooking for his wife and college-age kids, there’s not a lot of extra time to get dinner on the table. All 125 delectable recipes are easy enough and tasty enough to become part of everyone's permanent culinary repertoire.