Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating


It's the passionate professional chef with a compulsion to explore whom we should thank for those extraordinary techniques and ideas that continually find their way into the home kitchen. Whether it's poaching in plastic or using vegetable waters instead of fat to enrich flavor, or new tricks with the inexpensive Japanese mandoline, professionals expand our horizons. And among his colleagues, Michel Richard is the chef's chef, the one others look to for inspiration. "Why didn't I think of that?" asks Thomas ...
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It's the passionate professional chef with a compulsion to explore whom we should thank for those extraordinary techniques and ideas that continually find their way into the home kitchen. Whether it's poaching in plastic or using vegetable waters instead of fat to enrich flavor, or new tricks with the inexpensive Japanese mandoline, professionals expand our horizons. And among his colleagues, Michel Richard is the chef's chef, the one others look to for inspiration. "Why didn't I think of that?" asks Thomas Keller, in his foreword to Happy in the Kitchen, about Richard's innovative technique. Michel Richard leads the way and always has—at his L.A. restaurants, Citrus and Citronelle, and now in Washington, D.C., at Michel Richard Citronelle and his newly opened Central. He never ceases to explore and his food never fails to satisfy.

Happy in the Kitchen is teeming with "Richard-esque" discoveries, whether it's an amazingly simple technique for dicing vegetables, a delicious [low-carb] carbonara made with onions rather than pasta, or a schnitzel made of pureed squid. He's playful—always—but also a perfectionist and an iconoclast. What can you say about a chef who makes risotto with potatoes, prefers frozen Brussels sprouts, and whips up spectacular chocolate pudding and béchamel in the microwave? A chef who doesn't shock blanched vegetables in ice water, but uses his freezer as though it were a fifth burner, and turns raspberries and almonds into "salami"?

Enamored of crispness, this master chef, who calls himself Captain Crunch, makes a potato gratin that is all crust and fries carrots until crisp. Always seeking to surprise, he stuffs onion shells and serves them as pasta, and he scrambles scallops and serves them as if they were eggs. But the surprise is not just in the form the ingredients take in each dish, but in the taste.

Richard offers recipes for the foods we love, but always looks for the twist that makes good things great—whether it's Lamburgers, Lobster Burgers, or Tuna Burgers, Turkey "Steak" au Poivre, or the chocolate reverie Michel calls Le Kit Cat. And with recipe titles such as Shrimp "Einstein," Jolly Green Brussels Sprouts, Chicken Faux Gras, Figgy Piggy, Chocolate Popcorn, and Happy Kid Pudding, Happy in the Kitchen lets you know you're in for good tastes and good times.

Every delicious moment is captured in glorious images of finished dishes, as well as exceptional step-by-step photographs that make easy work of slicing, dicing, shaping, and other essential hand skills. Happy in the Kitchen is a book that will make you laugh and learn, and it will delight you every step of the way.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The 2006 Michelin Guide awarded its coveted three stars to only four New York restaurants: Michel Richard's Per Se was one of them. In this zestfully innovative, aptly titled book, Richard exhibits the free-ranging qualities that have made him one of the country's most lauded chefs and restaurateurs. The appeal of Happy in the Kitchen is half in its recipes, half in Richard's carefree risk taking: Would any other famous chef instruct us in the fine art of making "salami" out of raspberries and almonds? His exuberance is evident even in his concoction's names: Shrimp Einstein, Jackson Pollock Soup, Figgy Piggy, and Happy Kid Pudding.
Publishers Weekly
In this hefty follow-up to his 1993 debut (Home Cooking with a French Accent), Richard imparts culinary wisdom of the highest order in cheerful nursery tones. Humpty Dumpty, Captain Crunch and a vegetable called Mr. Beet are a few of the merry characters who populate his kitchen. Goofiness apart, the book is filled with clever, innovative techniques and little-known time-savers (microwave b chamel, anybody? food processor sorbet?). Most of the recipes hinge on Richard's unconventional methods, and their successful execution does require a certain level of skill. Attention-grabbers like Asparagus Salmon (in which asparagus spears are slipped inside the pocket of a salmon fillet which is then sliced like a terrine), and Red Snapper in a Spinach Coating are elegant enough to serve to a Michelin inspector, yet are corralled and fenced within the range of ability of a competent home cook. Other dishes are more demanding-the superlative Lamb Loin with White Bean Sauce, for example. In any case, professional cooks and serious amateurs will find this volume an essential resource. (Oct. 31) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This gorgeous work could certainly find a place in any home. It's packed with ingenious, unusual, and beautifully presented dishes, so that experienced or ambitious cooks will enjoy re-creating Richard's recipes and those who hesitate to attempt the more complicated possibilities will delight in the sumptuous photos and entertaining essays throughout. Richard, celebrated chef and owner of Michel Richard Citronelle and author of Michel Richard's Home Cooking with a French Accent, began his career as a pastry chef and clearly brings an eye both for beauty and for detail, as well as a wonderfully playful attitude, to every dish he prepares, whether savory or sweet. This book includes a wide range of possibilities, from All-Crust Potato Gratin to Fluffy Spinach Bites with Fonduta Sauce to Black Olive-Crusted Salmon with Green Olive Sauce. Richard also includes a list of culinary tools used, plus helpful instructional spreads with descriptions and illustrations on how to shape and tie a lamb shoulder, for instance, or how to peel and cut the flesh from a tomato. Recommended for all public libraries.-Courtney Greene, DePaul Univ. Lib., Chicago Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579652999
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publication date: 8/30/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 588,502
  • Product dimensions: 10.06 (w) x 11.19 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Michel Richard, chef of Citronelle in Washington, D.C., made that rarest of leaps in the world of food—from the pastry kitchen to chef of one of the country’s foremost restaurants. A chef who inspires colleagues with his creativity of invention, he was among the first chefs inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who in American Food and Wine. He has been a guest on Good Morning America and the Food Network, and is featured regularly in such publications as Gourmet. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and children.

Susie Heller, executive producer of PBS’s Chef Story, has produced award-winning television cooking series and co-authored numerous award-winning books, among them The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller and Bouchon by Thomas Keller and Jeffrey Cerciello. She lives in Napa, California.

Peter Kaminsky is the author and coauthor of many books, including Pig Perfect, Culinary Intelligence, Seven Fires and Mallmann on Fire (with Francis Mallmann), and Charred and Scruffed (with Adam Perry Lang). He is a longtime contributor to Food & Wine and a former columnist for The New York Times and New York magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Thomas Keller, author of The French Laundry CookbookBouchonUnder Pressure, Ad Hoc at Home, and Bouchon Bakery, has thirteen restaurants and bakeries in the United States. He is the first and only American chef to have two Michelin Guide three-star-rated restaurants, The French Laundry and per se, both of which continue to rank among the best restaurants in America and the world. In 2011 he was designated a Chevalier of The French Legion of Honor, the first American male chef to be so honored. 

Deborah Jones's recent honors include Best Photography in a Cookbook from the James Beard Foundation for her work in Bouchon. A frequent contributor to national magazines, she conducts a parallel commercial career from her San Francisco studio.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2006

    How Exciting!

    I can¿t wait to get this book, Michel Richard is one of the world¿s greatest chefs, from what I hear this book is going to be amazing, he takes his experience and creativity and shows you how to be 'happy in the kitchen'

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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