I'm trying to cut back on buying cookbooks; my kitchen is getting filled up with these! But when I was wandering through a bookstore and happened upon this title, I could not resist. Paul Bocuse, after all, has a towering reputation as a chef. And here is his cookbook for the home chef. He says that (Page 7): "The cooking presented in this book has the advantage of being within everyone's reach, bringing together a selection of recipes that are easy to make, relatively quick to prepare, and easy on the budget." And (Page 8): "The recipes in this collection have been chosen specifically to help you learn to make good--and, in particular, varied--dishes very quickly."
As with many cookbooks, this begins with some basics, such as what tools you ought to have in your kitchen, general advice for the cook, and a very nice discussion of wine. At the close, he includes a dictionary of terms for the reader.
But it's the recipes that determine the value of such a book. And I really like that aspect of this work. I have made many of these dishes myself, with a variety of recipes. Bocuse's recipes, I can assure the reader, are, in fact, makeable. If I can cook these dishes up, anyone can! While there are some differences between his recipes and the ones that I have used, those are rather minor. I am looking forward to telling those who sup at my table that I am using Paul Bocuse's recipe!
The first section is soups. I have tried several approaches to Leek and Potato Soup. Bocuse presents a recipe that is similar to what I have used, but by using "crème fraiche" rather than milk, his looks much richer than what I have tried. French Onion Soup is terrific, and easily done. Bocuse's version is similar to what I have used, but there is an interesting wrinkle that I aim to try at some point. I use the Berghoff recipe for Red Cabbage, but Bocuse has another recipe that is fundamentally different--but sounds delicious.
What about egg dishes? Eggs with Vinegar? Sounds odd when I look at the title of this dish. But as I read the recipe, it looks pretty simple and makes me curious as to how it will taste. Eggs Poached in Beaujolais? I enjoy a good Beaujolais, and would never have thought of that as a key component of an egg dish. This is one recipe that I will take a shot at! Seafood. . . . Fresh Tuna and Tomatoes sounds delightful. His recipe for Coquilles Saint-Jacques (one of my favorites, and a dish that I have actually successfully made a handful of times!) is different from what I have used, but man it sounds great (vermouth was NOT in my recipe)!
Meat dishes. . . . I used to make Beef Bourguignon for parties. You can make huge amounts of this to satisfy a crowd, and it is easy to make a tasty batch. His version is close to what I made, giving me a false sense of expertise. . . .
This review is already too long, so I'll just mention a few other recipes that caught my fancy: Leg of Lamb English Style, Coq au Vin (with a couple wrinkles that I have never tried out), broccoli (with crème fraiches), Potatoes with Chive Sauce, and Pasta Provencale.
As you might guess, I really enjoyed looking at this cookbook. Especially cool is that I have made some of these dishes and I can compare what I have done with Bocuse's recipes. And, boy, do I look forward to some experimentation on my family (and maybe even friends), using the master chef's cookbook as my guide.