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Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time…
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Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food

by Jacques Pépin

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Disclaimer: I am veg(etari)an and so cannot speak to the quality or interestingness of the recipes in the chapters involving animals. I can only report seeing a few recipes with names like "Turkey Carcass with..." or "Calf Brains and..." before quickly looking away in horror.

I'm not sure I understand this as a cookbook (even less do I understand the plethora of 5-star reviews here on goodreads). For instance, in the vegetables section, each vegetable has a recipe that goes like this: steam or boil vegetable, add butter and salt. Some recipes have names which make them sound more interesting than that, like "Asparagus Ragout", but others just come out and say it: "Broccoli with Butter". Sometimes butter with salt is even called a "sauce", but seriously, these recipes could all say "Heat your vegetable by your preferred method and throw some butter and salt on it like you always do." Heck, you can make life even simpler than that if you buy it prepackaged and frozen and throw it in the nuke. Voila! Ameri-French cooking.

There are a lot of recipes in the fruit desserts chapter, the names of which sounded promising, but on closer inspection proved to be just as silly as the above. "Make a pile of blueberries, drop some yogurt in the middle, sprinkle with sugar. Variation: Use strawberries." If you really want to mix up your repertoire, you can try the ones which simply reverse that process: Drop a blob of yogurt in a bowl, make a crater in the middle, add blackberries and sprinkle with sugar. Go on! Feel the inspiration! Get crazy and try something new! Variation? "Use raspberries." This isn't cooking, this is assembling-- and it's assembling things you can probably think up on your own.

The breads chapter is pathetic. There are only a very few recipes, all of which are considered the "starter" to the hundreds of possibilities you would get out of The Joy of Cooking ("Or as we call it in our house, The Bible", as my recently departed friend Tom Taylor used to say-- and I agree).

I haven't yet watched the included dvd (described in the book's introduction as 3 hours of technique demonstration), but even if it's highly entertaining and/or informative, I'd recommend previewing this book from the library before indulging any impulse to buy it. This seems suitable only for someone who meets ALL of the following criteria: is broke; has nothing more in their spice rack than salt, pepper and garlic powder; has absolutely no kitchen and cooking experience whatsoever; and is in need of ideas as to how to feed themselves something that isn't out of a box. If you've got a microwave-raised kid you're packing off to go live on their own, for example, this might be a better book to give them than many of those awful cookbooks marketed directly at college students-- but please do also include The Joy of Cooking for those who come to feel throwing frozen peas on pasta isn't exactly cooking so much as it is re-heating, and who may someday want to advance a mite beyond opening a jar of Dijon and calling it ~^*^~ Asparagus with Mustard Sauce ~^*^~. ( )
  gunsofbrixton | Mar 30, 2013 |
Jacques Pepin's had a long illustrious career and in this book, he reminisces about his life, the people he's known and the food he's created, in the headnotes and in sidebars between a lot of fantastic recipes. He includes a lot of tips on technique, too. If you're looking for a book to help you learn to be a better cook, start here. ( )
  4fish | Nov 30, 2011 |
In his 60-year career as a chef, Jacques Pépin has created thousands of recipes, trying different foods, methods, styles, procedures, and techniques. He is the author of 26 cookbooks, a cooking teacher and has been the host of several TV shows. Now he has sorted through his vast collection of recipes and assembled the best of the best in this new cookbook. While these recipes are “essentially” the way he has always cooked, they have been updated for the modern kitchen and today’s cook.

The books is arranged in sections beginning with Soups, followed by Salads, Breads, Pasta, Fish, Meats, Vegetables, and Desserts to name a few, plus an introduction written by the author. A searchable DVD demonstrating cooking techniques is included with the book. (My copy is a galley and does not have the DVD so I am unable to comment on it.) There are also interesting sidebars scattered about the book with information on food safety, mini-tutorials on things like how to open an oyster, how to trim an asparagus or even the right way to melt chocolate.

One thing I will note is there are no photos of the preparation or the completed dish. Today, so many cookbooks come with photos that I felt I should mention it so no one is disappointed. If the book did have photos, I’m sure there is no way it could include 700 recipes. Instead, a DVD is provided to demonstrate the various cooking techniques.

I dove right in and tried a few of the recipes last week. I needed something quick and easy for dinner and Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Butter caught my eye. It was quick, simple and easy to make. Fresh tarragon is growing a few steps away in my herb garden but it should also be available at many supermarkets for a last minute dish.

Yesterday I made the Pumpkin Soup. Since it’s October, fresh pumpkins are plentiful. This was a little more work but worth the effort. Some of the recipes are more complex or contain exotic ingredients which for me, living near a large city, are readily available. But many are quick and easy with ingredients usually found in your pantry. Detailed instructions are provided so even if a recipe is something new one should feel comfortable attempting it. I’ve never made pumpkin soup before and it turned out delicious.

With over 700 recipes to choose from and a wide range of levels of difficulty and preparation time, there is something here for everyone. I recommend this book as a valuable resource to add to any kitchen or cookbook collection. ( )
  UnderMyAppleTree | Oct 18, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0547232799, Hardcover)

Fall into Cooking Featured Recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Essential Pepin

When the weather gets cooler in the fall, I make soup. I generally cook up a big batch and freeze some for whenever I need it. This one, with sausage, potatoes, and cabbage, is hearty and good for cold weather. It’s terrific served with thick slices of country bread, and if you have a salad as well, you’ve got a complete dinner.

Sausage, Potato, and Cabbage Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients

8 ounces mild Italian sausage meat
2 small onions, cut into 1-inch-thick slices (1 ½ cups)
6 scallions, trimmed (leaving some green) and cut into ½-inch pieces (1¼ cups)
6 cups water
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
8 ounces savoy cabbage, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces (4 cups)
1¼ teaspoons salt
Crusty French bread

Break the sausage meat into 1-inch pieces and place it in a saucepan over high heat. Sauté, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to keep the meat from sticking, for 10 minutes, or until the sausage is well browned.

Add the onions and scallions and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the water, potatoes, cabbage, and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes.

Serve the soup in bowls with chunks of crusty French bread.

Baker’s Wife Potatoes

This classic potato gratin is made in France in many places, as is the famous dauphinois gratin, which is made with cream, milk, and garlic. The dauphinois has many more calories than this one, which is flavorful and ideal with any type of roast, from a roast chicken to a leg of lamb.

The potatoes are sliced but not washed, which would cause them to lose the starch that binds the dish. A good chicken stock and a little white wine are added for acidity, and the gratin is flavored with thyme and bay leaves. It can be prepared ahead and even frozen.

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tablespoon peanut oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions (about 14 ounces)
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (3 tablespoons)
3 cups homemade chicken stock (page 612) or low-salt canned chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
3 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ⅛-inch-thick slices.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. When it is hot, add the onions and sauté them for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, including the potatoes, mixing gently, and bring to a boil. Transfer the mixture to an 8-cup gratin dish.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until most of the moisture is absorbed and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve.

Chicken Legs with Wine and Yams

I love both yams and sweet potatoes and use them in different ways, sometimes in soup, sometimes simply split in half and roasted in the oven. You can use either sweet potatoes or yams in this casserole, which also includes mushrooms, chicken, and wine. This is a great dish for company. It can be prepared ahead and reheated--which makes it even better.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole chicken legs (about 3 pounds total), skin removed, drumsticks and thighs separated
¼ cup chopped onion
4 large shallots (about 6 ounces), sliced (about 1½cups)
8 medium mushrooms (about 5 ounces), cleaned and halved
4 small yams or sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and halved lengthwise
1 cup dry white wine
8 large garlic cloves, crushed and chopped (2 tablespoons)
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken pieces in batches and sauté over medium-high heat until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Add the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the shallots, mushrooms, yams or sweet potatoes, wine, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and boil very gently for 20 minutes.

Garnish with the parsley and serve.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:29 -0400)

"For the first time ever, the legendary chef collects and updates the best recipes from his six-decade career. With a searchable DVD demonstrating every technique a cook will ever need. In his more than sixty years as a chef, Jacques Pepin has earned a reputation as a champion of simplicity. His recipes are classics. They find the shortest, surest route to flavor, avoiding complicated techniques. Now, in a book that celebrates his life in food, the world's most famous cooking teacher winnows his favorite recipes from the thousands he has created, streamlining them even further. They include Onion Soup Lyonnaise-Style, which Jacques enjoyed as a young chef while bar-crawling in Paris; Linguine with Clam Sauce and Vegetables, a frequent dinner chez Jacques; Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Butter, which he makes indoors in winter and outdoors in summer; Five-Peppercorn Steak, his spin on a bistro classic; Meme's Apple Tart, which his mother made every day in her Lyon restaurant; and Warm Chocolate Fondue Souffle, part cake, part pudding, part souffle, and pure bliss. Essential Pepin spans the many styles of Jacques's cooking: homey country French, haute cuisine, fast food Jacques-style, and fresh contemporary American dishes. Many of the recipes are globally inspired, from Mexico, across Europe, or the Far East. In the accompanying searchable DVD, Jacques shines as a teacher, as he demonstrates all the techniques a cook needs to know. This truly is the essential Pepin. "--… (more)

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