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Bouchonby Thomas Keller
Synopses & Reviews
Thomas Keller, chef/proprieter of Napa Valley's French Laundry, is passionate about bistro cooking. He believes fervently that the real art of cooking lies in elevating to excellence the simplest ingredients; that bistro cooking embodies at once a culinary ethos of generosity, economy, and simplicity; that the techniques at its foundation are profound, and the recipes at its heart have a powerful ability to nourish and please.
So enamored is he of this older, more casual type of cooking that he opened the restaurant Bouchon, right next door to the French Laundry, so he could satisfy a craving for a perfectly made quiche, or a gratinéed onion soup, or a simple but irresistible roasted chicken. Now Bouchon, the cookbook, embodies this cuisine in all its sublime simplicity.
But let's begin at the real beginning. For Keller, great cooking is all about the virtue of process and attention to detail. Even in the humblest dish, the extra thought is evident, which is why this food tastes so amazing: The onions for the onion soup are caramelized for five hours; lamb cheeks are used for the navarin; basic but essential refinements every step of the way make for the cleanest flavors, the brightest vegetables, the perfect balance—whether of fat to acid for a vinaigrette, of egg to liquid for a custard, of salt to meat for a duck confit.
Because versatility as a cook is achieved through learning foundations, Keller and Bouchon executive chef Jeff Cerciello illuminate all the key points of technique along the way: how a two-inch ring makes for a perfect quiche; how to recognize the right hazelnut brown for a brown butter sauce; how far to caramelize sugar for different uses.
But learning and refinement aside—oh those recipes! Steamed mussels with saffron, bourride, trout grenobloise with its parsley, lemon, and croutons; steak frites, beef bourguignon, chicken in the pot—all exquisitely crafted. And those immortal desserts: the tarte Tatin, the chocolate mousse, the lemon tart, the profiteroles with chocolate sauce. In Bouchon, you get to experience them in impeccably realized form.
This is a book to cherish, with its alluring mix of recipes and the author's knowledge, warmth, and wit: "I find this a hopeful time for the pig," says Keller about our yearning for the flavor that has been bred out of pork. So let your imagination transport you back to the burnished warmth of an old-fashioned French bistro, pull up a stool to the zinc bar or slide into a banquette, and treat yourself to truly great preparations that have not just withstood the vagaries of fashion, but have improved with time. Welcome to Bouchon.
"Keller's restaurant Bouchon, in Napa Valley, Calif., is modeled after Parisian bistros and serves simple yet sumptuous fare. This graceful ode to bistro cooking emphasizes that although in America, 'bistro' is synonymous with 'casual,' the food is prepared with 'precision of technique brought to bear on ordinary ingredients.' Close-up photos of signature dishes are alluring, and several action shots of food preparation may help readers refine their techniques. The book's sections progress from 'First Impressions' (hors d'oeuvres and more) to 'Anytime' dishes (soups, salads, quiches) to appetizers, entres and desserts. Thoughtful introductions to each recipe grouping explain Keller's experiences with the featured dishes; sidebars on everything from oil to onions provide insight and useful tidbits. A 'Basics' chapter attempts to further demystify the foundations of bistro cooking (it's built on staples like confit, stock and aioli), and a 'Sources' section directs readers to bistro-appropriate tools and specialty foods. Of course, as any chef knows, food is as much about experience, memory and emotion as it is about flavor and presentation. Especially bistro food, Keller says, which retains the 'spirit of the original bistro, the spirit of embracing you... restoring you and making you happy.' This appealing book promises to do the same. Photos. Forecast: A $125,000 marketing budget and author tour could bring Bouchon success on par with Keller's previous book, The French Laundry Cookbook, which is now in its 18th printing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
When Thomas Keller imagined opening a second restaurant in Napa Valley, next door to his French Laundry, he envisioned a place serving food that excited him in a different way from the food at the French Laundry. He craved food that was less complicated, and a place that was more casual, where he could go every night after work. And that was how Bouchon was born.
Bouchon cooking is about elevating to elegance the simplest ingredients, because the best food isn't necessarily what is served at white-tablecloth restaurants, and the best meals--as most chefs will tell you--don't require the most expensive ingredients or lots of them or lots of steps. The only thing that's required is that you care about all the stages of the process--the slow browning of sliced onion for an onion soup, the proper cutting of the potatoes for a gratin, the right amount of salt on a raw chicken, how long you cook a pot de crème.
All the emblematic bistro dishes are here, interpreted and executed as they've never been before. The confit of duck, country-style pâtés, soupe à l'oignon gratinée, steamed mussels, steak frites, gigot d'agneau, all achieve the impossible: they get even better.
When Thomas Keller, owner of the Napa Valley's French Laundry, decided to open a second eatery, he wanted it to be a place that was more casual, serving less complicated food. Thus, Bouchon was born. This cookbook contains recipes for the emblematic bistro dishes served at Bouchon, interpreted and executed as they've never been before.
When Thomas Keller leaves work at his world-renowned French Laundry restaurant, he goes next door to eat at his other restaurant, Bouchon, where the food is uncomplicated, but not thoughtless or cheap. From duck confit to crerne caramel, all the classics are here, but they're better than ever. This unpretentious volume includes nearly 150 recipes and more than 200 photographs.
About the Author
Jeffrey Cerciello has cooked with Thomas Keller for ten years, first at the French Laundry and since 1998 as executive chef of Bouchon in Yountville, California. Cerciello opened the second Bouchon in Las Vegas, at The Venetian Hotel-Resort-Casino, in spring 2004. He lives in Napa with his wife and two daughters.
Deborah Jones's recent honors include Best Photography in a Cookbook from the James Beard Foundation for her work in Bouchon. A frequent contributor to national magazines, she conducts a parallel commercial career from her San Francisco studio.
Thomas Keller, author of The French Laundry Cookbook, Bouchon, Under Pressure, Ad Hoc at Home, and Bouchon Bakery, has thirteen restaurants and bakeries in the United States. He is the first and only American chef to have two Michelin Guide three-star-rated restaurants, The French Laundry and per se, both of which continue to rank among the best restaurants in America and the world. In 2011 he was designated a Chevalier of The French Legion of Honor, the first American male chef to be so honored.
Michael Ruhlman is the author of The Elements of Cooking, The Soul of a Chef, and The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, among others.
Susie Heller, executive producer of PBSs Chef Story, has produced award-winning television cooking series and co-authored numerous award-winning books, among them The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller and Bouchon by Thomas Keller and Jeffrey Cerciello. She lives in Napa, California.
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