Judy Wicks, the owner of Philadelphia's renowned White Dog Cafe, has a clear agenda. "I use food to lure innocent customers into social action," she says. Since 1973, her restaurant has been known as much for the themed evenings it hosts to raise awareness for various causes as for the food prepared by Chef Kevin Von Klause, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. As in her restaurant, promoting causes is important in this book. Stories about trips to Cuba and to Nicaragua prove that Wicks is no sunshine hippie, but rather a deeply committed entrepreneur. (The Cafe serves coffee from organically grown beans imported by a company started by a fellow traveler she invited on one of those Nicaraguan trips, and it has ongoing relationships with a number of "sister" restaurants around the world.) The White Dog Cafe may be furnished with a funky hodgepodge of pieces added over the years as the place grew from a takeout shop to an establishment seating 200, but the recipes are carefully written and the food is broadly appealing. Chilled Roast Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Crème Fraîche, French Mushroom Soup, and Sour Cream Coffee Cake are typical selections. They and the rest of the 200-plus dishes in this cookbook prove Wicks and Van Klause know how to serve up noncontroversial, popular food while promoting radical ideas. --Dana Jacobi
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Wicks, a community activist, and von Klause, a chef, are partners in a 15-year-old Philadelphia restaurant known for its advocacy of organic foods and innovative food preparation. Here, they offer some 250 recipes. As is often the case with restaurant-based cookbooks, however, a significant number of dishes require considerable skill and time, e.g., Baked Shrimp and Pork Spring Rolls with Apricot-Pickled Ginger Dipping Sauce. The homemade pasta in Braised Wild Mushrooms Under Herb-Printed Pasta requires fresh herbs sandwiched between two thin sheets of dough. Chili-Rubbed Duck Breasts with Sun-Dried Cherry Glaze calls for one cup of Veal Demi-Glace, which can be prepared in advance but takes up to five hours to reduce. Some dishes, such as Watermelon and Shrimp Salad with Jalapeno-Lime Dressing, unite ingredients with startling invention. The authors shine with simpler meals such as Sauteed Chicken and Mushrooms in Marsala-Sage Sauce and Tarragon-Braised Lamb Shanks. Photos not seen by PW. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.