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The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,779 ratings  ·  61 reviews
In The Zuni Café Cookbook, a book customers have been anticipating for years, chef and owner Judy Rodgers provides recipes for Zuni's most well-known dishes, ranging from the Zuni Roast Chicken to the Espresso Granita. But Zuni's appeal goes beyond recipes. Harold McGee concludes, "What makes The Zuni Café Cookbook a real treasure is the voice of Zuni's Judy Rodgers," whos ...more
Hardcover, 552 pages
Published September 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton Company
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 ·  3,779 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Start your review of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If I were traveling and could take only one book with me, I would have to choose between Don Quixote, The Gourmet Cookbook, and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Zuni Cafe strikes a balance between storytelling and instruction- gorgeous recipes, each worth lingering over in the text and over the stove (or chop block). Ms. Rodgers sometimes makes recipes more complicated than they might be, but the improvement in taste and texture validate her suggestions and make the extra time
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Well written and beautifully illustrated but some recipes come across as a little dated and most call for incredibly expensive ingredients
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have only made a couple of recipes from this cookbook, but have read most of it and am interested in trying more! I am especially intrigued by their renowned recipe for roasted chicken.

But- one of the recipes I've used a number of times now is the one for "seafood essence", and that alone is worth the whole book. We occasionally have a lobster feast, and this is a BRILLIANT and efficient way of utilizing the lobster shells and carapaces that would otherwise be discarded. Also, one can save up
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zuni Cafe Cookbook

This book was exactly as described a compendium of recipes and cooking lessons. There was also a fair amount of the author's history with food and the history of the Zuni Cafe. The only thing that I think that could have improved this book would have been more and larger photographs. I love to see photos of the food and there weren't any at least not in the Kindle edition.
May 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cookbook, library
This was on a list of good reads from Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany. I scanned some of the recipes and cooking hints, but I pretty much know all of the hints after years of cooking. Some of the ideas are out-of-date or not using new technologies. Not many of the recipes appealed to me, so I left the well-used and stained book at the library where I picked it up to browse.
Cheryl Schibley
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fun to read. I'm not a great cook but I can follow a recipe and this book has some good ones.
Ryan Juno
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredible and dense
Shane C
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
these book is so very good!!
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
*Swoon* If I were traveling and could take only one book with me, I would have to choose between Don Quixote, The Gourmet Cookbook, and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Zuni Cafe strikes a balance between storytelling and instruction- gorgeous recipes, each worth lingering over in the text and over the stove (or chop block). Ms. Rodgers sometimes makes recipes more complicated than they might be, but the improvement in taste and texture validate her suggestions and make the extra time and effort complete ...more
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbook
In May 2010 I had the pleasure of eating at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Our meal was truly memorable for several reasons. The food was delicious, visually lovely & Impeccably served. One homeless person stood starring in at the diners, another homeless person received money from a diner who had chosen to sit outside to enjoy her meal. Eating such lovely food felt like a guilty pleasure. As for the cookbook, it is not one I would choose to own. The recipes such as Roasted Guinea Hen with Bay Leav ...more
This morning I made the Roasted Polenta, a 7-line recipe of what to do with leftover polenta. Simple and delicious, with poached eggs.
After reading about the death of Judy Rodgers last year and how beloved her restaurant is, I decided to check this out from the library (again--I'd forgotten I'd already given it a half-hearted try). Now I think I need to own it.
I'm just browsing through it but I think her tips are valuable. There's stuff I never knew (and stuff I did know) but it looks like she
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
This is quite the tome, both in size and quality of content. A veritable bible of cooking, this is the long-anticipated accumulation of years of cooking knowledge, beginning in France and extending to years working as a chef in the Bay area, including time spent at Chez Panisse and then of course, in developing the menu at the Zuni Cafe to reflect Judy Rodgers' own personality.

We made the Roast Chicken with Bread Salad for Valentine's Day. The recipe was several pages long, took 3 days to make,
Judy G
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent book of recipes and advice for cooking and baking tho mostly cooking by the way too young deceased chef Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.
It is so lovingly carefully thought out and written
This is a book for an experienced cook and it is very detailed and clear what to do with what and when and how.
I was most interested in her famous Zuni Chicken and Bread Salad. I made it based on this.
Most of the recipes would not be used by most people cooking for their home.
As someone w
Nick Klagge
May 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cookbooks
My review is based not on the recipes in this book (I've only tried a couple of them so far), but just on its quality as a "reading cookbook". The beginning gave me high hopes that it would be a great cover-to-cover read like Shizuo Tsuji. But aside from a couple of short sections, it's basically just recipes--decidedly not my favorite part of a cookbook.

Elise and I have made the fried eggs with breadcrumbs a couple of times and really like them. They are about twice as fun as normal fried eggs
Gretchen Angela Boyer
I borrowed this book from the library because I had heard good reviews about it and was considering purchasing it, but after spending some time with it I have decided not to add it to my personal library. The author does offer some good insight into cooking technique and sizing up ingredients, but the recipes themselves are just not practical (nor economical) for everyday use, by calling for things such as white truffle oil, duck eggs, and fresh sardines. Great for planning a special meal, not f ...more
Evelyn Dickinson
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had the fortunate opportunity to dine at the Zuni many moons ago and was, of course, stuck dumb by the utter deliciousness of the food and also thrilled by how simple/brilliant the preparations were. Now after reading the not quite cookbook I understand why.

I read that Judy Rodgers has died recently. The Zuni Cafe Cookbook certainly passes on her culinary legacy.

The three axioms of cooking... 1) Use the best ingredients possible, 2) Treat them with respect and 3) There are no shortcuts!

Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking-food
By now, we've all had some variation of most of the recipes in this book. Along with Chez Panisse and Oliveto, Zuni Cafe helped bring rustic Mediterranean cuisine into the forefront of American consciousness. Some of the recipes are amazing, but it's the basic stuff that I found most useful and applicable--and that is the stuff that will change your cooking . . . it's all about technique, people, not recipes.
Jun 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
I am only giving this 4 stars because I haven't the wherewithal to know if this should get 5 stars. Of course, I think it should have five stars. I got this after years of hearing about the restaurant and going to SF last year. It was a dream come true in some respects. I ate my last supper there before travelling home the next day. You can get lost in this book. Actual recipes I will make are not numerous but this is an education, like college is an education.
Eva Luna
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookery
Another library read, I ended up copying half the book to my online recipe archive. Zuni Cafe is a San Fransisco hot spot. The first recipe I tried was shrimp romanesco, which is an Provencal Italian dish. You make a paste of crusty bread, toasted ancho chiles and a plethora of spices. After baking this paste,you toss in the shrimp and saute. Scrumptious. The seafood and vegetable dishes sound divine.
Sep 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
more narrative than recipe, the author is deft at combining a wholesome american sentiment into pretty upscale food. every recipe is replicable, which is why i would give this 4 stars, but none are terribly necessary...though i'm sure they're all delicious. who has pickled zante grapes on hand? ever? (though the recipe is in there so you can). but very well written and if you don't already own 40 cookbooks, or just like reading cookbooks, this is definitely worthwhile.
Dec 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
SO GOOD. We've made a bunch of stuff out of this and it's great. The roast chicken with bread salad recipe is transcendent. Her philosophy, which I thought I would hate but which I actually love, is "how can I make this more complicated?" So, you soak the currants in a mixture of warm water and red wine vinegar, for example. Which makes a subtle but stunning difference! Anyway, it's a great cookbook, check it out. Kasia got it really cheap on amazon ($7! new!)
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
A GR recommendation.
A comprehensive guide for serious cooks. Instructions on tool selections, helpful tips and food guides are meticulously thought out (it even suggests wine for each dish - how superb!). The recipes "represents [The Zuni Cafe's] entire repertory" so if you love the restaurant...The recipes sounds delicious; however, one small criticism: being a dessert-lover, I was also hoping for better and unique recipes.
Overall, worth a look!
Feb 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing

This is more than a cookbook. It's a compendium of philosophies with contextual stories and recipes to back them up. I don't even know if there's a single reciple in the first 50 pages. Judy Rodgers is so opinionated and so passionate about her subject that every time I get near this book, it's hard not to cancel all my plans for the night, grab a box of salt, and cook all night long.
Jun 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting cookbook, but there is almost nothing in here that I want to cook. It would be a fun cookbook for someone without kids and with a large budget and ample free time to prepare the time-intensive recipes, most of which require speciality ingredients. That said, I have made the roast chicken several times, and it is amazing (Google "Zuni roast chicken").
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it
I picked this up at the library on the recommendation of Michael Ruhlman. I trust his judgement when it comes to cooking and food. This is a very good cookbook and I enjoyed flipping through it, but do not feel the need to add it to my collection. I'd love to visit the restaurant to have some of these dishes, rather than make them myself.
S Vanorse
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love this, it is like reading a novel full of fantastic recipes several of which I have tried and several more to go. This will be a well used for many years to come. The Zuni chicken is worth every effort it takes, made an unbelievably delicious stock with the chicken bones leftover. For that recipe alone it is worth getting this book.
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The introduction of this book will convince anyone, cook or not, that being in the kitchen and creating food will change your life.

That said, this is the hardest and most precise cookbook ever written, I would recommend it more for reading and not use.
Rachael Richardson
Jun 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: folks who like to cook.
Shelves: cookbooks
Learned: how to prepare all kinds of vegetables and meats. How to choose vegetables at the store. How to use less seasoning to make more flavor. Mmmm. A whole bunch of delightful dishes.

My review: If you have time on your hands and like to cook, check it out.
Aug 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Serious cooks
Shelves: cookbooks
This has a some gorgeous, stunning, complicated recipes. I don't reach for it often but when I do, I have never been sad. I can only give this a three though because of the complexity of the recipes.
Jul 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
i haven't even read this whole book but the recipe for zuni roast chicken w/ bread salad alone is worth the price of this book. once you've read this book and tried salting meats early before cooking, you'll never go back.
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