The French Laundry Cookbook Hardcover – Bargain Price, Nov 1 1999
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To eat at Thomas Keller's Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry, is to experience a peak culinary experience. In The French Laundry Cookbook, Keller articulates his passions and offers home cooks a means to duplicate the level of perfection that makes him one of the best chefs in the U.S. and, arguably, the world.
This cookbook provides 150 recipes exactly as they are used at Keller's restaurant. It is also his culinary manifesto, in which he shares the unique creative processes that led him to invent Peas and Carrots--a succulent pillow of a lobster paired with pea shoots and creamy ginger-carrot sauce--and other high-wire culinary acts. It offers unimagined experiences, from extracting chlorophyll to use in coloring sauces to a recipe for chocolate cake accompanied by red beet ice cream and a walnut sauce. You are urged to follow Keller's recipes precisely and also to view them as blueprints. To keep them alive, they must be infused with your own commitment to perfection and pleasure, as you define those terms.
Keller's story, shared through the writing of Michael Ruhlman, shows how this chef was both born and made. After winning rave reviews when he was still in his 20s, it took a more experienced chef throwing a knife at him because he did not know how to truss a chicken to open his eyes to the importance of the discipline and techniques of classical French cooking. To acquire these fundamental skills, he apprenticed at eight of the finest restaurants in France.
Grounded in classic technique, Keller's cooking is characterized by traditional marriages of ingredients, assembled in breathtakingly daring new ways, such as Pearls and Oyster, glistening caviar and oysters served on a bed of creamy pearl tapioca. Continually piquing the palate, his meals are a procession of 5 to 10 dishes, all small portions vibrantly composed. For example, Pan Roasted Breast of Squab with Swiss Chard, Seared Foie Gras, and Oven-Dried Black Figs require just three birds to serve six. The result: you are never sated, always stimulated.
The 200 photographs by Deborah Jones include more than just beauty shots: they show how to prepare various dishes; how Keller, shown stroking a whole salmon, respects his ingredients; and how the perfection of baby fava beans still nestled in the downy lining of their succulent pod, or the seduction of an abundance of fresh caviar, calls out the best from the chef. --Dana Jacobi
From Publishers Weekly
"Cooking is not about convenience, and it's not about shortcuts. Take your time. Move slowly and deliberately, and with great attention," writes Keller, the owner of the French Laundry in Napa Valley who was named 1997's best chef in America by the James Beard Foundation. At a decidedly unhurried pace, Keller delivers 150 recipes that reflect the perfectionism that catapulted him to national acclaim. With few exceptions (e.g., Gazpacho, Eric's Staff Lasagne), recipes are haute, labor-intensive preparations: Lobster Consomm? en Gel?e, Warm Fruitwood-Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze, or Braised Stuffed Pig's Head. Tongue-in-cheek recipe names like "Macaroni and Cheese" (aka Butter-Poached Maine Lobster with Creamy Lobster Broth and Mascarpone-Enriched Orzo) and "Banana Split" (actually, Poached Banana Ice Cream with White Chocolate-Banana Crepes and Chocolate Sauce) belie the complexity of the dishes. Throughout, Keller conveys his vision as a culinary artist in spare, meticulous prose, emphasizing form over expedience: "the great challenge [of cooking] is... to derive deep satisfaction from the mundane." (Nov..
- is... to derive deep satisfaction from the mundane." (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Chef Keller offers three menus: a five-course dinner menu; a nine-course tasting of vegetables menu; and his 10-course prix fixe menu (which is currently $135). He follows the typical French format:
Amuse Bousche (His signature salmon tartar with sweet red onion crème fraîche)
1. Cold Hors d'ouevre
2. Vegetable or Foie Gras
4. Seafood (or second fish course)
5. Rabbit or Veal
6. Pork or Lamb
10. Mignardise (petit fours and candies)
Sometime in your life, you must experience this restaurant. It will be the best four-hour dinner of your life!
Now for the book review. The book is presented in a way that shows a lot of planning went into it. While the recipes have many ingredients and details, the instructions are written in a manner that everyone can follow. If you're an experienced cook, this may slow you down a bit.
There is plenty of background to the recipes that you won't find elsewhere; such as big pot blanching and how to handle your homemade stocks.
I've made about 10-15 recipes out of this book. All work... eventually. They require three or four read-throughs, full preparation of equipment and ingredients (mise en place) before starting, an understanding of what happens to food when heat is applied, and better-than-average knife skills.
Keep in mind there are a few bugs here and there.Read more ›
The photography is beautiful, and might inspire you to visit his restaurant, as it did for me.
He explains his philosophy about cooking, and includes some personal stories, all which I found to be very good. Keller explains salt and pepper, the importance of respecting meat, the importance of straining and skimming, and others.
The clean design of the book focuses on the food, their are no distractions.
Recipes I have made with success
-Black Sea Bass with Parsnip Puree, Arrowleaf Spinach and Saffron Vanilla Sauce
-Comice Pear "Strudel" with Chestnut Cream, Pear Syrup, Creme Anglaise and Pear Chips (this one takes forever, but is worth it)
-Sweet Potato Agnolotti with Sage Cream, Brown Butter, Prosciutto and Fried Sage Leaves (Agnolotti are similar to ravioli)
-Creamy Maine Lobster Broth
-Parmesan Lace Baskets with Goat Cheese
Overall, a fantastic book for serious chefs who are in no rush whatsoever.
As a Californian transplant to Washington State I will say this, Northwesterners know their food.
As far as Keller, he knows food and French Laundry isn't a California-typical thing, it's a French Laundry thing.
I received this book as a gift, I have known of Keller's work and of him as a chef for some time.
The recipes and techniques in the book are actually very attainable, it isn't for your basic meat and potatoes quick meal, but if you want to take the time, and shop at higher end markets and get to know your purveyors you will be surprised how easy it is to pull these meals off.
Given you aren't the Executive Chef of a world reknown restaurant, but to the layman that you serve these recipes to, you may as well be.
Cooking is paying attention, loving the craft and having the ingredients on hand. This book makes it one step closer for you.
And then there's the story of the rabbits.
This book has gotten some flak in the past about the gory details involved in the slaughter and prep of the rabbits. Many people are put off by this. It's not for the weak-jearted. At the same time, it does really help one appreciate that food comes from someplace other than the supermarket, and that any food item that gave up its existence to become dinner should be treated with reverence and respect in the kitchen. Getting hung-up on the perceived barbarism of the slaughter is missing the point - it's all about gaining a sense of perspective about where the food actually comes from. He also does the same sort of narrative for harvesting vegetables, there's just less blood involved.
Aside from that, there's a lot in this book that is probably beyond the capabilities of the average home chef, and probably even several classically trained restaurant chefs. This should not be off-putting, as there's plenty that isn't, and even the most exotic recipes have enough firm grounding in them that they can be modified to fit the average home kitchen provided you're still willing to put in some effort.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The book is beautiful. Used 5 recipes for an Oscar night dinner! Only complaint is that book arrived with back cover scratched up.Published 4 months ago by Honeybeemkg
Book that changed my culinary outlook and greatly helped my career as a chefPublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
I just flipped through it and I can't wait to get some of the recipes done! This book is awesome, it complements nicely my current cooking style set by James Peterson.Published 15 months ago by teo
Although I'm not up to the skill of mastering most of what I've seen in this excellent presentation of Thomas Keller's work, I thoroughly enjoy the read, although, please take note... Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2013 by Richard Unger
This book is amazing! If you're passionate about cooking or trying to find your passion this is a must read! great recipes, great techniques just all around a great book!Published on Aug. 11 2013 by Tommy Loewe
This book is designed for chefs and lovers of food. Thomas keller (...as I suspect in his kitchens) demands perfection and respect for the food. Read morePublished on Aug. 8 2013 by Ryan Matwiy
Makes me want to go back to school, become a Chef's apprentice and apply for a job at The FL. Enjoy the read!Published on June 1 2013 by Ryan J McIntyre
My one friend is a chef and had this book already and my other friend wanted it so I bought it for his birthday. Since then he has made a bunch of recipes from the book. Read morePublished on March 31 2013 by Alexandra Banks