Kafka, a peripatetic New York restaurant consultant, has produced one of those personal, eclectic globetrotting compendiums that can be so awful when they're awful, so good when they're good: eggplant caviar, cream of sorrel soup, pasta with vodka, Cajun ""dirty rice."" It's hard to say just why these versions are so likable; but somehow they suggest a real (if affluent) cook in a real (if lavishly equipped kitchen. Shrimp with red and green peppers on a bed of wilted cabbage, scallion soup served with the scallion greens and thin-sliced radishes, a Chinese-y salad of duck breasts with cellophane noodles, celery slaw, ginger ice cream, shoestring potatoes fried in beef suet: all bespeak confident, non-hokey flair. In its cheerful leaps between the humble (potato pancakes) and the raffinÃ‰ (scallops a l'AmÃ‰ricaine), this recalls the best work of the late Michael Field. It runs a well-planned gamut from practically instant meals (bean soup with canned cannellini) to all-day marathons (lasagne with homemade green noodles and Bolognese sauce), and hasn't a boring page. Probably not a book for the complete beginner, but anyone else from cautious converts to dedicated mavens should find hours of pleasure here.