A less able recipe writer than Meyers (Perla Meyers' Art of Seasonal Cooking; 1991) might not have been able to make this wide selection fit together. She starts with a sound concept: Give a list of ingredients that people should have on hand in their pantries, then provide recipes using those ingredients. The problem is that the pantry list gets much too long and includes produce that will not keep indefinitely. (According to Meyers's list, there are 11 vegetables and six fruits that the well-stocked home should not be without.) So maybe preparation won't be quite so spontaneous, but the food is charming. These dishes are mostly low-key cousins of the fussy nouvelle cuisine of the '80s, meaning that they incorporate ingredients like arugula and balsamic vinegar in simple preparations. A potato galette is a crispy, almost greaseless giant hash brown, and fresh tarragon in a goat cheese omelette is a welcome change from the more predictable chives. Recipes are no-nonsense, with substitutions suggested, and preparation and cooking times (almost all short) are very accurate. Desserts, in particular, are a varied and unusual lot, ranging from cherries baked in a red wine sauce to a frothy mousse made with coffee, mascarpone, and whipped cream. A life preserver for dealing with unexpected guests, although purchasing ingredients like candied ginger and garam masala may prove impractical.