When Paul Virant opened Vie in 2004, he introduced Western Springs to his affinity for preserving. What began as a pickling hobby snowballed into an “experimental preserving extravaganza” and eventually produced the rustic recipes populating the pages of The Preservation Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, $29.99). Virant, now a Michelin-starred chef who also pickles up the menu at his restaurant in Lincoln Park, Perennial Virant, enlisted the aid of line-cook-turned-writer Kate Leahy for this handsomely photographed work (Jeff Kauck), which begins as a how-to for all things pickled, preserved, fermented, and canned. Lest he leave readers with cupboards full of jarred oddities, Virant offers seasonally inspired menus—beef chili with pickled candy onions, chased by his wife’s chocolate chip cookies, for a wintry warmer; grilled and pickled summer squash salad and summer berry soda floats for a breezy supper—that make use of the fruits (and veggies) of their labors. Geared toward ambitious home cooks and professional chefs, these recipes could inspire the rest of us to fit into one of those categories.
Photograph: Anna Knott