Thomas Keller, chef/proprieter of the French Laundry in the Napa Valley-"the most exciting place to eat in the United States," wrote Ruth Reichl in The New York Times-is a wizard, a purist, a man obsessed with getting it right. And this, his first cookbook, is every bit as satisfying as a French Laundry meal itself: a series of small, impeccable, highly refined, intensely focused courses.
Most dazzling is how simple Keller's methods are: squeegeeing the moisture from the skin on fish so it sautées beautifully; poaching eggs in a deep pot of water for perfect shape; the initial steeping in the shell that makes cooking raw lobster out of the shell a cinch; using vinegar as a flavor enhancer; the repeated washing of bones for stock for the cleanest, clearest tastes. From innovative soup techniques, to the proper way to cook green vegetables, to secrets of great fish cookery, to the creation of breathtaking desserts; from beurre monté to foie gras au torchon, to a wild and thoroughly unexpected take on coffee and doughnuts, The French Laundry Cookbook captures, through recipes, essays, profiles, and extraordinary photography, one of America's great restaurants, its great chef, and the food that makes both unique.
One hundred and fifty superlative recipes are exact recipes from the French Laundry kitchen-no shortcuts have been taken, no critical steps ignored, all have been thoroughly tested in home kitchens. If you can't get to the French Laundry, you can now re-create at home the very experience the Wine Spectator described as "as close to dining perfection as it gets."
Winner of the 2000 IACP Cookbook Award.
"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.) Publishers Weekly
"Although this stunning work is structured in chapters ranging from canap s to desserts, to consider it merely a "cookbook" would be to trivialize its content and impact. The French Laundry (in Yountville, CA) is one of the most important restaurants in the United States, and owner Keller is an articulate chef with culinary principles. His philosophy: the palate gets weary, so small and often exotic courses should be designed to maximize the experience of each flavor and texture. He defends tradition, e.g., chickens must be trussed, and yet each recipe is startlingly original. Although this is a complex book for the average busy person--Keller advises: "Take your time. Take a long time"--there are also fairly simple dishes. Epitomizing a love of ingredients (there is a resource guide to esoterica) and an almost magical approach to food, this is required for any real "cookbook" collection."-Wendy Miller, Library Journal
Table of Contents
Pleasure and Perfection
The Road to the French Laundry
A Sad Happy Story
About the Chef
When in Doubt, Strain: Notes on How to Use This Book
The Law of Diminishing Returns
The Mushroom Lady
The Importance of Hollandaise
Hearts of Palm Grower
Tools of Refinement: The Chinois and Tamis
The Importance of Staff Meal
A Passion for Fish
The Accidental Fishmonger
Beurre Monte: The Workhorse Sauce
The Importance of Trussing Chicken
Salt and Pepper and Vinegar
Braising and the Virtue of the Process
The Pittsburgh Lamber
The Importance of Rabbits
The Importance of Offal
Stocks and Sauces
The Composed Cheese Course
The Importance of France
The Attorney Cheesemaker
Beginning and Ending
The Ultimate Purveyors
List of Recipes
Thomas Keller, author of The French Laundry Cookbook, Bouchon, Under Pressure, and Ad Hoc at Home has been honored with innumerable awards, from an honorary doctorate to outstanding restaurateur to chef of the year (for successive years). His two Michelin Guide three-star-rated restaurants, French Laundry and Per Se, continue to vie for best restaurant in America and for ranking among the top five eateries in the world. Ad Hoc, his casual family-style restaurant, opened in 2006.