Anyone who has had the pleasure of dining at Charleston's divine Cypress Lowcountry Grille will be thrilled with executive chef Craig Deihl's cookbook, aptly titled "Cypress."
"I have written this cookbook with the intention of sharing some of the restaurant's favorite dishes, as well as to give the home cook a comprehensive guide on cooking 'Cypress-style,' " he writes.
The menu at Cypress, he adds, is a "menu of 'global fusion' cuisine. With Lowcountry ingredients in the lead, we use international cooking techniques — from classic French sautes to Asian tempura — and layer our distinctive flavors so that each menu item reveals a symphony of hot, sour, salty, sweet and bitter."
All of the Cypress favorites are here: the Vietnamese Beef Spring Rolls, Portobello Mille-Feuille, Smoked Salmon Wellington with its Gruyere Potato Fondue, Asparagus, and Lemon Beurre Blanc, and the restaurant's most requested dish, the Crisp Wasabi Tuna With Edamame, Baby Shiitake Mushrooms and Chili Garlic Glaze.
Not to mention the fabulous desserts of Cypress pastry chef Kelly Wilson.
But being a Cypress devotee isn't the only reason to buy this cookbook. For any serious culinarian, taking this book into the kitchen will be a learning experience, as Deihl intended it to be a teaching tool. Hence, the extended pantry chapter, the chapter on cooking techniques and the chapter on stocks.
Most importantly, the book includes black-and-white photos of each step of any recipe where Deihl feels that seeing the technique will make a difference in your learning experience.
And if you're just an armchair foodie, you'll love it, too.
The pictures will have you drooling, and the wine pairings that lushly describe a specific wine for each recipe will have you reaching into your private stash for just the right bottle to pair with this mouthwatering cookbook.
Hardcover. Wyrick & Co., An Imprint of Gibbs Smith Publisher. $34.95.
This simple recipe is best made during peak tomato season, which is not far away in the Lowcountry.
Chilled Tomato Soup With Lump Crab and Basil Oil
For the soup:
2 cups plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Place all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain tomato puree through a chinois (a metal conical sieve with an extremely fine mesh). Refrigerate and keep cold.
For the lump crabmeat:
1/2 pound lump crabmeat
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 cup yellow teardrop tomatoes
In a small mixing bowl, combine crabmeat, cream cheese, chives, salt and pepper. Using a 3-inch ring mold in the center of four serving bowls, place the crabmeat inside each ring mold and pack tightly. Pack equal amounts of tomatoes on top of crab meat. Pour equal amounts of tomato soup around each ring mold.
Remove ring mold. Garnish with basil oil.
For the basil oil:
2 cups basil leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Blanch basil for 20 seconds. Plunge in ice water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels.
Combine basil and canola oil in a blender and puree for 5 minutes. It will steam.
Add olive oil and puree for 10 seconds. Refrigerate overnight in small clear container. Before using, bring back to room temperature. Decant through a coffee filter. Use the oil that filters through; discard the basil pulp.