2007-10-11 13:10:18.0 Russ Parsons: Hey everyone, what's cooking?

2007-10-11 13:10:25.0 Ed Sails: Hi Russ. I wanted to thank you for your suggestion a few weeks ago about the marinated lamb in yogurt with onions that you suggested for my party. It was a big hit and disappeared very fast!

2007-10-11 13:11:06.0 Russ Parsons: No leftovers Ed? thanks for thinking of me! Seriously, I'm glad you liked it. It's always nice when stuff flies off the plate likethat.

2007-10-11 13:11:25.0 luv2chat: i was disappointed you didn't like waters' the art of simple cooking. what cookbooks DO you recommend? especially simple ones, cause i'm not a very adventurous cook yet-- want to get the basics down first.

2007-10-11 13:13:42.0 Russ Parsons: I was really disappointed in that book, too. I really wanted it to be a great instructional book. But once I started cooking from it, it was clear there was no way. If you like that style of cooking, I'd certainly recommend any of the other Chez Panisse books. They're not arranged as instructional, per se, but the food is very good and the instructions are very clear. I really like Lindsey Sheres Chez Panisse Dessert book (I'm not a baker and everything i cook fromit comes out great). Also the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook is terrific. You would probably also like the Zuni Cafe cookbook by Judy Rodgers. The food is similar, but it is just so muchbetter written and so much clearer.

2007-10-11 13:13:50.0 Ed Sails: It was great....made the cubs\es just big enough to fit on a toothpick. Served them with a side of tzaztiki sauce. They disappeared as fast as they came off the grill!

2007-10-11 13:14:30.0 luv2chat: thank you, i'll try those!

2007-10-11 13:14:34.0 Russ Parsons: That's a good idea Ed, like mini ke-babs!

2007-10-11 13:14:38.0 luv2chat: do you think some great cooks just can't write cookbooks? like, the way they cook is so instinctive to them that they can't explain it?

2007-10-11 13:14:54.0 Russ Parsons: Just out of curiosity, what are the rest of your recommendations for cookbooks for someone who wants to learn how to cook --as opposed to someone who just wants a recipe collection.

2007-10-11 13:15:53.0 Ed Sails: I still go back to my copy of Julia Child's The French Chef. It seems her recipes always work.

2007-10-11 13:16:13.0 Russ Parsons: I think cooking and writing about cooking are two different abilities. Some folks have both. But it takes real concentration to turn off the "cook mode" of doing everything automatically, and go into the "writer mode" of noticing all of the details and recording them. I'm not sure what happened with the CP book, but there seemed to be a disconnect there.

2007-10-11 13:16:28.0 Administrator2: Hey Russ-- here's a question from the e-mailbag (chat@latimes.com): I'm curious to know some of your favorite Chez Panisse recipes. I've had equal amounts of success and failures from those books so knowing anything that you've found to be a success would be greatly appreciated.

2007-10-11 13:17:04.0 geof: Sounds to me like there are a lot of 'name brand' chefs and cookbook writers working to fill space, without a lot of inspiration or perhaps material to say anything new. I was glad to see you called that. The same has happened on TV. That's why the cooking is giving way to playing with food.

2007-10-11 13:17:37.0 Russ Parsons: Jeez, I really don't remember recipes all that often. I do know that the Almond torte (not tart) from the Chez Panisse Dessert book is one of my go-to desserts. I've made that probably hundreds of times and my wife and daughter would rather that I'd made it hundreds more.

2007-10-11 13:18:40.0 Russ Parsons: There is a certain amount of that Geof, but that hasn't been truewith the Chez Panisse books and so I have a hard time believing that this one was strictly a mercantile effort. My guess is that there must have been some difference in the team that put this one together and the team that had done the previous books. I don't know that; it's just a guess.

2007-10-11 13:19:47.0 Russ Parsons: I guess one of the points is that writing a recipe that is clear and instructive involves a lot more than just emptying out the scrapbook.

2007-10-11 13:19:52.0 luv2chat: hmm, i don't normally think of nut (almond or otherwise) flavors in desserts. what other nut-flavored desserts have you had success with?

2007-10-11 13:21:01.0 Russ Parsons: Boy, I really do love them. They pair so nicely with fresh fruit. I love walnut cakes. There's a pie filling called frangipane that everyone ought to have in their repertoire--it's basically nuts ground with eggs. You lay fruit in a tart shell, pour in the frangipane batter and bake it. It's really delicious.