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Wolfgang Puck's Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen: Recipes form the James Beard Award-Winning Chef-Owner of Spago [Paperback]

Wolfgang Puck
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 9 1998
Wolfgang Puck has become one of this country's most famous chefs, known for a cooking style in the tradition of such French masters as Paul Bocuse, Michel Guerard, and Roger Verge, but with one important difference: Puck's acclaimed recipes were developed in America, using American ingredients in accordance with American tastes. In fifteen chapters, this new paperback edition of Puck's popular Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen combines the best of classic French methods with the freshest ingredients to create imaginative, delicately flavored, attractive dishes. The recipes are simplified and clearly explained for ordinary home cooks. Culinary definitions and illustrated cooking techniques precede the recipes. Seasonal menus are also included. Wolfgang Puck is more in the public eye than ever: the publication of this book coincides with the opening of three more of his restaurants, Spago Palo Alto, Spago Chicago, and Chinois Las Vegas.


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Wolfgang Puck's first book, written before he became wildly famous as the owner-chef of Spago and Chinois, offers more than 160 complex, innovative recipes that employ elements both familiar and surprising. Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen focuses on the basics of French cooking rather than the self-consciously avant-garde fusion food that Puck helped to pioneer. But, as Wolfgang himself says, he is "never intimidated by tradition" and the recipes in this book are hardly ordinary. Dishes such as Zucchini Flowers Filled with Shrimp Mousse, fresh and nontraditional from conception, set the tone. Bold flavors are the rule here; even simple-sounding recipes prove to be rich and intricate. Lobster with Herbs, for example, is served with both a tomato-basil béarnaise and a beurre blanc with herbes de Provence. Illustrated with clear and helpful drawings and succinctly laid out, intimidating gems such as a Sweetbread Torte (baked in puff pastry with ham, black olives, cream, and port) seem almost straightforward. Throughout the book, Puck interjects vignettes from his childhood, musings on different ingredients, and his opinions on the philosophy of cooking. His enthusiasm is infectious; before you know it, your copy will be dog-eared and slathered in butter. -- David Kalil

Review

"Wolfgang Puck's first book, written before he became wildly famous as the owner-chef of Spago and Chinois, offers more than 160 complex, innovative recipes that employ elements both familiar and surprising. Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen focuses on the basics of French cooking rather than the self-consciously avant-garde fusion food that Puck helped to pioneer. But, as Wolfgang himself says, he is "never intimidated by tradition" and the recipes in this book are hardly ordinary. Dishes such as Zucchini Flowers Filled with Shrimp Mousse, fresh and nontraditional from conception, set the tone. Bold flavors are the rule here; even simple-sounding recipes prove to be rich and intricate. Lobster with Herbs, for example, is served with both a tomato-basil béarnaise and a beurre blanc with herbes de Provence. Illustrated with clear and helpful drawings and succinctly laid out, intimidating gems such as a Sweetbread Torte (baked in puff pastry with ham, black olives, cream, and port) seem almost straightforward. Throughout the book, Puck interjects vignettes from his childhood, musings on different ingredients, and his opinions on the philosophy of cooking. His enthusiasm is infectious; before you know it, your copy will be dog-eared and slathered in butter." -- David Kalil Amazon.com

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated Collection of Various Recipes April 17 2000
Format:Paperback
Wolfgang Puck's Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen is a wonderful collection of recipes which will easily fill anyone's appetite. This book of recipes provides the reader with many great sauces which will bring enormous flavor to any dish that a person is creating in their kitchen. The recipes in this book have an American flavor with a French twist. This book is sophisticated and is geared more towards people with a intermediate knowledge of food preparation. If a person has this knowledge in the kitchen I suggest that they add this book to their collection of recipes. If you do feel like going out to eat at Spago you now can bring Spago home to your kitchen. If you enjoy this book of recipes I suggest that you look further into other Wolfgang and Spago recipe books. I am going into the hotel and restaurant business and from books like this I am able to further my education and knowledge about the various details of the food industry.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars French Food with California Twist Feb. 21 2001
Format:Paperback
This famous chef takes classics from French cuisine and adds the California touch of some lighter sauces with American ingredients.
He relates that this book was tested on students in his cooking school, so the average home gourmet should be able to pull these off. I would not encourage beginners to try one of these for a meal unless they practice the technique several times before the real thing. Puck has great suggestion: If you are giving an important party, it is sometimes better to present five recipes that you have mastered, rather than struggle with twenty that are new to you."
What I love about Puck is the attitude he brings: kinderspiel--my child's play. Share and laugh, great advice.
Especially have enjoyed preparing Lamb Chops with Cream of Shallots and Coulibiac of Pike with Crayfish. With each entree he also suggests an appropriate wine.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars French Food with California Twist Feb. 21 2001
By rodboomboom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This famous chef takes classics from French cuisine and adds the California touch of some lighter sauces with American ingredients.
He relates that this book was tested on students in his cooking school, so the average home gourmet should be able to pull these off. I would not encourage beginners to try one of these for a meal unless they practice the technique several times before the real thing. Puck has great suggestion: If you are giving an important party, it is sometimes better to present five recipes that you have mastered, rather than struggle with twenty that are new to you."
What I love about Puck is the attitude he brings: kinderspiel--my child's play. Share and laugh, great advice.
Especially have enjoyed preparing Lamb Chops with Cream of Shallots and Coulibiac of Pike with Crayfish. With each entree he also suggests an appropriate wine.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated Collection of Various Recipes April 17 2000
By Adam J Kaplan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wolfgang Puck's Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen is a wonderful collection of recipes which will easily fill anyone's appetite. This book of recipes provides the reader with many great sauces which will bring enormous flavor to any dish that a person is creating in their kitchen. The recipes in this book have an American flavor with a French twist. This book is sophisticated and is geared more towards people with a intermediate knowledge of food preparation. If a person has this knowledge in the kitchen I suggest that they add this book to their collection of recipes. If you do feel like going out to eat at Spago you now can bring Spago home to your kitchen. If you enjoy this book of recipes I suggest that you look further into other Wolfgang and Spago recipe books. I am going into the hotel and restaurant business and from books like this I am able to further my education and knowledge about the various details of the food industry.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars KINDLE VERSION REVIEW Sept. 16 2013
By Bohemian Bon Vivant - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Note that instead of that pretty purple lavender cover and colored text inside, the Kindle version after you buy it arrives completely in black and white, cover too. Seems a bit of a misrepresentation to me, but the information is still useful. Still, had I known this I'd most likely have just bought a used version of the book. This is dull, dull, dull to look at, especially with the shaded gray boxes of text page after page. Rather depressing, really. Like what we'd get if we lived in George Orwell's 1984.

Worse still, they brought this to Kindle on the cheap and there are no hyperlinks to get around. "See Pasta Dough recipe on page 208" is of absolutely no use on the Kindle. It's next to impossible to navigate this book as a result, and when I did actually get there, all it says is "this is a very basic pasta dough." Well I can get that with my pasta attachments. I wanted a Wolfgang Puck-worthy pasta dough.

To be fair, the flours like Caputo 00 we can get now in the U.S. even at better grocery stores compared to when this was originally published have changed considerably, and this book won't reflect any of that. It should really be updated to reflect the new reality. All-purpose flour in pasta dough isn't going to give you what you're seeking in a book like this, and 00 flour in a pizza is the only flour that's actually allowed me to shape the dough with my hands the way I see professionals doing it (because they're using 00 flour). Same with the pizza peel. You can dust a pizza peel all you want with all-purpose flour but your pizza's not going to slide off the peel like you think it should until you use semolina flour for that purpose.

I'm sure there's good information in this book but it seems watered down for the home cook and what they'll have access to at the time it was released and the world and accessibility to top notch ingredients has changed.

It's a shame we don't get a book from Wolfgang Puck to reflect that. That's okay, but what's really not okay is selling a Kindle book that doesn't have the recipes hyperlinked throughout. This looks like a mimeographed copy from high school, one page after another in exciting gray, gray, and more gray.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book June 9 2008
By James K. Carroll - Published on Amazon.com
This book has many interesting recipes. Moderate to difficult in preparation, but full of flavor.
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