The Commonsense Kitchen Cookbook From Author Tom Hudgens, A Chez Panisse Alum, Might Be An Instant Classic

The Commonsense Kitchen might be an instant classic

Every now and then, a cookbook appears that is so clear and comprehensive it instantly becomes essential.

For us, the newest entrant in that category is The Commonsense Kitchen by Tom Hudgens ($35), a teacher at the College of Marin who also worked at Chez Panisse.

The 600-page tome is the culmination of Hudgens' years working as a chef and teacher at Deep Springs, a college and working cattle ranch in the high desert in eastern California.

The ethos of the ranch-style recipes in the book echoes the familiar strains of so much Bay Area cooking: simple, unfussy dishes assembled from ingredients with good provenance.

In Hudgens' adept hands, though, culinary clich├ęs are rendered fresh as just-picked ears of sweet corn.

The Commonsense Kitchen is divided into 19 chapters, arcing from Kitchen Basics to a chapter on doing the dishes correctly and making your own soap.

Along the way, Hudgens provides recipes for smart, homestyle dishes like chunky scallion-buttermilk potatoes, green-chile enchiladas, milk-braised pork loin, Kentucky bourbon balls and his mother's breakfast staple, Dutch Babies (click here to download the recipe).

Our favorite cookbooks now have a new companion on the shelf.