Cooking with Cafe Pasqual's is a warm and generous book, an invitation to cook, to savor food, to smile, to share with friends and loved ones, to enjoy life. The author and restaurant owner, Katharine Kagel, states, "More and more, I have come to realize that my role as a food professional is to be an impresaria, that is, to identify the talent in our staff, or in a recipe, and to bring it into play on our list of offerings." Based on this philosophy and on the recipes that have kept patrons of Cafe Pasqual's returning for thirty years, Kagel succeeds in finding the best, and the reader can sense the creative energy in every luscious recipe. Photographer Kitty Leaken has captured this exuberance in her photos. Many of her shots are of beautiful food creations to guide us in presentation, but she also includes photos of the restaurant, the friendly staff, the radiant Kagel herself, even a few people dining. Perhaps the best shot of all is of a diner reading a newspaper as he eats. This is what good cooking is about: life's enjoyments. This is a relaxed book.
The recipes at Cafe Pasqual's are eclectic and influenced by the chefs who work at the restaurant. As Kagel says, " There are many creative artists in our ongoing production. Each brings special knowledge." As a result the recipes ring with the joy of creation. There are many Spanish inspired recipes such as a deep and flavorful Mexican inspired soup, Caldo de Pollo y Salsa de Chile Rojo. This sits side by side with an Italian recipe for San Marzano Tomato Soup with Croutons. Leafing through the pages, you find Kyra's Russian Potato Salad accompanied in the same section by Thai Squid Salad. There is a barbecue and Kagel makes no bones about it and gives it the Spanish name Barabacoa, but it is followed by a Roasted Rack of Pork Loin Chops with Sage Gravy that says American classic. Desserts run from Prickly Pear Cactus Sorbet to David's Perfect Pumpkin Pie.
The book is lavish with praise, and generous in its sharing of recipes. Kagel is also kind to the earth and states that the restaurant is committed to healthy eating. "There is a need to heed how our food is being raised and handled. We continue our commitment to obtaining organically raised greens, eggs, coffle, dairy, and flour, and naturally raised beef, pork, and chicken." Thank you, Ms. Kagel, for feeding us responsibly and with concern for the earth's bounty.
Within the pages of the book, you will find stories of the restaurant, and with Kagel's philosophy, a lot about the staff of people who make the restaurant a place we want to visit and the book an inspiration to gather together our own friends to serve them special food.
About the author: Katharine Kagel is executive chef and founder of Cafe Pasqual's and Cafe Pasqual's Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1999, Cafe Pasqual's received the James Beard America's Regional Cooking Classics award, and Kagel was nominated for Best Chef: Southwest. Chef Kagel is committed to cooking with sustainable, organic ingredients.