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The French Laundry Cookbook (Anglais) Relié – 26 novembre 1999
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Pour ceux qui aiment ou aimeraient prendre le temps de cuisiner des plats succulents, où rien n'est laissé au hasard. Grace à Thomas Keller, la gourmandise devient un Art.
Quand on connait la résultat du poulet rôti selon Thomas Keller, on a qu'une envie : essayer toutes ses recettes ! Il faudra cependant maîtriser la langue de Shakespeare car ce livre est entièrement en anglais.
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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. For example, the chive chips in the white truffle oil-infused custard recipe says to bake it at 275F for 20-25 minutes and to, "remove the chips when they are golden brown." This doesn't work. Golden brown is a term meaning that the product has reached caramelization (the sugars are browning). Browning does not begin until the product has reached a temperature of 338F - 350F, which will not occur in a 275F oven. I've had my chive chips in the oven for over an hour and they are, at best, an off-yellow color. Maybe they meant 375F? I've made adjustments by cooking them at 350F, but they don't turn out as nice as they do in the restaurant.
The point I'm trying to make is you have to practice. Don't try these recipes and expect them to turn out the first time. Your skill set, more than anything else, will determine the recipe's success. Nevertheless; if you're a foodie, this is a must-have book.
Of the 400 or so cookbooks I have, this is the one that I enjoy reading the most; it's the one that has the most prominent place in my kitchen bookshelf for everyone to see.
Design--the design on this book makes it a work of art. The photographs and layout are literally awe-inspiring. A word of caution...the size is very cumbersome and doesn't exactly make for ease in the kitchen.
Text--Very enjoyable text and it is pleasurable reading. Most helpful are pointers on technique and procedure.
Recipes--Most are difficult, a few are pretty easy. Herein lies the caveat/point of caution. To understand this point, one must understand the philosophy of this restaurant/Keller. Food is a work of art and presentation is everything in Keller's mind. With that in mind, be ready to break out the tweezers and forcepts to get this food to appear as it does in the restaurant/book. It can be painstaking and frustratingly over-done.
On the restaurant--It is a very good restaurant and worthy of most of the commendations about it. It is perhaps one of the best dining experiences I've experienced. However, it is becoming, in my humble opinion, slightly over-rated. The wait on reservations has now hit the 3 months+ mark. (From those slightly less demanding, I've heard stories of a 6 month wait.) In other words, if you would like to dine there in April, better make reservations in January at the latest. To be honest, the experience is not THAT fabulous and such a wait is more of a product of hype than of quality. You would be better off going to Terra or Tra Vigne in the same area. It would likely be more enjoyable as well.
Don't get me wrong. This is a fantastic book and it is a fantastic restaurant. It is just not THAT fantastic if you follow me.
But as for the book, purchase it if you understand what you're in for--it will be a valuable addition.
Don't expect detailed instructions. The cookbook's photos are for showing the end result, not for showing you how to produce it.
That said, the cookbook will give you many new and creative ideas. The frustrating part is that you will then have to figure out how to actually prepare them on your own.
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