The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook: More Than 250 Recipes for the Passionate Home Cook

The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook: More Than 250 Recipes for the Passionate Home Cook

by Mary S. Risley

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Have you ever read a recipe that called for artichokes and wondered just how to trim them, or wanted to learn the proper way to use a pastry bag? While most cookbooks provide home cooks with only recipes, The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook provides recipes and detailed cooking techniques -- it's like going to cooking school without ever leaving your home…  See more details below


Have you ever read a recipe that called for artichokes and wondered just how to trim them, or wanted to learn the proper way to use a pastry bag? While most cookbooks provide home cooks with only recipes, The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook provides recipes and detailed cooking techniques -- it's like going to cooking school without ever leaving your home. With more than 250 delicious yet approachable recipes and countless techniques, The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook enables readers to become familiar with the basics of cooking and then encourages them to improvise. Because the recipes have been tested in the San Francisco kitchens of Tante Marie's by hundreds of students, home cooks can be assured that they are virtually foolproof.

Having guided thousands of students through the world of French cooking for the past thirty years, renowned cooking teacher Mary Risley is well aware of common mistakes made in the kitchen. Risley troubleshoots a multitude of problem areas for cooks (such as what to do if your soup is too thick, or not thick enough), allowing home cooks to avoid common pitfalls. With variations provided for many dishes and instructions on how to cook without recipes, more advanced home cooks can start to create dishes on their own.

From delicious hors d'oeuvres like Fava Bean Crostini with Pecorino and Miniature Shrimp Quiches and Asparagus-Fontina Pizza with Truffle Oil, to enticing entrees like Roast Chicken with New Potatoes and Olives, Halibut Baked with Warm Shallot Compote, and Herbed Rack of Lamb with Béarnaise Sauce, Risley presents an impressive array of French-inspired recipes for contemporary American tastes. Classic recipes are updated with modern twists in dishes such as Fresh Pea Soup with Cilantro and Meyer Lemon Crème Brûlée. Delectable dessert recipes include Grand Marnier Soufflé, Gingerbread Napoleon with Poached Pears and Caramel Sauce, Compote of Fresh Berries with Lemon Verbena Ice Cream, and classic Tiramisù.

Additional chapters on first courses, soups, salads, pasta and risotto, fish and shellfish, vegetables, breads, cookies, chocolates, cakes, and pastries offer the home cook a recipe for every occasion. Risley also provides in-depth discussions on ingredients such as cheese, chocolate, truffles, and planned leftovers. A section of Suggested Seasonal Menus as well as a chapter of foundation recipes for accomplished cooks complete this wonderful volume.

Illustrated with gorgeous black-and-white drawings, The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook will become the cookbook you can't live without. It's the next best thing to having a cooking instructor cook right beside you.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Chuck Williams Founder, Williams-Sonoma Here is a cookbook that explains, in simple language, how to cook!

Nick Malgieri Author of Cookies Unlimited and Perfect Cakes Mary Risley has been telling us all for the past thirty years that cooking is fun. Now we can finally share the fun right in our own homes, with her wonderful book to teach us all her recipes and techniques. The recipes are so tempting and clear that the flavors practically jump off the page at you — straightforward, bold flavors that define what the best home cooking is all about.

Tori Ritchie Host of Ultimate Kitchens Using this book is just like being in the kitchen with Mary — the recipes are timeless, the advice is direct, the spirit is fun. Open it to almost any page and find a way to be a better cook.

Heidi Insalata Krahling Chef-owner, Insalata's Restaurant This outstanding cookbook celebrates the technique, recipes, and wisdom of Tante Marie's founder and culinary force, Mary Risley, who has truly been an inspiration to me and thousands of other passionate cooks. The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook is filled with practical, sage instruction and luscious recipes that faithfully capture Mary's voice and spirit as she spreads her philosophy, "Cooking is fun!"

Publishers Weekly
Operating a full-time cooking school in San Francisco since 1979, Risley brings an authoritative voice to her serious instructive approach. Don't even think of cooking leeks al dente, she declares, due to their fibrous quality. Eschewing the chumminess prevalent in cookbooks today, she resolves to teach the user every home cooking technique necessary. After proceeding through the book, cooks of any stripe can learn hors d'oeuvre from the simple Parmesan Cheese Twists to Caviar in Beggar's Purses, a first course like Whole Artichoke Filled with Roasted Garlic Souffl and entrees as uncomplicated as Linguine with Roasted Peppers and Sausage or as sophisticated as Magret of Duck in Cassis Sauce. As the title suggests, French is the dominant accent, but international favorites appear throughout, as in Osso Buco with Risotto Milanese, Paella and Chicken Saut with Preserved Lemons and Olives. The fat police should beware of such dishes as Mushrooms Filled with Garlic Butter, and Mussels with Mashed Potatoes Gratin e, each of which contains three sticks of butter and serves four. Sidebars appear frequently to describe how, for example, to deep fry properly or butterfly a leg of lamb. Desserts run the gamut from the familiar Blueberries in Lemon Mousse to the far more demanding Hazelnut Dacquoise. Directing with a firm but gentle hand, Risley has earned the mantle of culinary tutor. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Risley's cooking school, which she opened in 1979, has become a San Francisco institution, with well-known chefs among both its visiting teachers and its alumni. Now Risley has distilled the essence of her culinary curriculum in this big cookbook, designed for the ambitious home cook. A brief introductory section covers equipment, general cooking methods, and other such basics; chapter introductions include more details on purchasing, storing, and serving; and numerous boxes focus on ingredients and specific techniques. The recipes are, overall, a mix of the classic French and more contemporary California-style dishes that have become the standards of the cooking school repertoire, and, as such, many of them are rather familiar. There's a lot of information here, but for those seeking a cooking school course at home, Darina Allen's impressive Ballymaloe Cooking School Cookbook, for example, or Madeleine Kammen's masterful The Making of a Cook are both more ambitious and more diverse in terms of their recipes. For area libraries and other larger collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt


Cooking is fun! When I started teaching cooking in 1973 in my San Francisco flat, there was a common expression: "If you can read, you can cook." That was an era when we were all falling in love with cooking. We were coming out of an era when "gourmet cooking" included casseroles made with cream of mushroom soup; we were moving into an era of beef Wellington and Grand Marnier soufflé. Some of us taught ourselves how to cook by reading The Joy of Cooking; others by reading Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes one and two. We read, and cooked, and talked about food. It was a very exciting time.

In those days, Julia Child taught us on television. There were cooking demonstrations by people such as Marcella Hazan and Richard Olney at the Sutter Street store of Williams-Sonoma; Jacques Pépin was teaching at a cooking school in Palo Alto. Not long after, James Beard started giving classes at the Stanford Court Hotel. I was lucky enough to watch Julia's shows, memorize her books, and take classes from these great cooks. I also took a short course at Le Cordon Bleu in London.

With very little formal training, I began teaching people how to cook. Two or three evenings a week eight people would come to my flat to cook together. I would read the book the night before, buy the groceries, and hand out the recipes. It was just plain fun.

Very soon after, I began giving demonstrations at stores such as Design Research and Williams-Sonoma. I also taught regularly on local morning television shows. Although I was teaching in my home, I called my school Tante Marie's Cooking School after an old French cookbook. (TanteMarie means Aunt Mary.)

After five years of this, I started to think about getting serious about my career. One day I told a friend I simply wasn't making enough money and I didn't have any resources — what if I broke my leg? Two days later I slipped on first base and did break my leg! That was when I raised some capital and started a full-time cooking school in April 1979 on a residential block between Telegraph Hill and Fisherman's Wharf. About that time I was able to go back to Europe for another short course at the London Cordon Bleu and at La Varenne in Paris, a mecca in those days for anyone wanting to learn French cooking.

Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco didn't exactly take off. Yes, we had an assured business of young people coming after work to cook together, but I had only one full-time student the first summer. His teachers each week were Jeremiah Tower, Carlo Middione, and Ken Hom. The next summer I had three full-time students. You might say it was a slow start, but we kept going.

Five years later I went back to Europe, this time to learn sauces from Madeleine Kamman in her home in Lake Annecy and to learn pastry, again at La Varenne. I spent some weeks in three consecutive years with Lorenza de Medici at her home, Badia a Coltibuono, learning Italian cooking. At other times I took groups to cook with Darina Allen at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork; to Bordeaux with Jean-Pierre Moulle; to Mexico with Diana Kennedy; to Provence with Lydie Marshall; and to Sicily with Anna Tasca Lanza.

Now Tante Marie's is busy every day and every night of the week. In the same storefront where we started in 1979, fourteen students cook every weekday with a chef/instructor for the Six-Month Full-Time Culinary Course. Another fourteen students cook every Monday and Wednesday evening and every other Saturday with their chef/instructor for the Six-Month Part-Time Pastry Course. On the other weekends, people come from places such as Portland, Reno, and Los Angeles for Weekend Participation Courses, for classes on subjects such as Mediterranean cooking or California Asian cooking. Once a week for six evenings, students come to the Evening Participation Courses. Between terms we offer Cooking Vacations for students from around the world. Finally, whenever the school is free, we have Party Classes for groups who take over the school for the whole evening. On these evenings, between twenty and thirty people cook a meal together for such events as a party for summer associates of a law firm or perhaps for a birthday party. At Tante Marie's the teachers specialize in getting everyone to cook. That's what makes it fun.

A good cooking teacher needs to read new cookbooks, food magazines, and newspaper food sections to be up on what's current in cooking. However, the best way to learn is to eat in good restaurants. Chefs are the innovators. A good cooking teacher eats a dish in a restaurant, tries it at home or with her students, and writes it up in her own words, giving credit to the chef. The recipes in this book are from many sources. We have been cooking with them over the years, making changes, adapting, and enjoying. I have tried my best to credit sources.

How to Cook

The first thing to learn about cooking is not to worry! When you offer to cook for others, it is one of the nicest things you can do for them. So what if the food doesn't come out exactly as you'd like? The fact that you have shared yourself with others by giving them food is all that counts.

In this book I've tried to supply explanations and hints to give you the confidence to cook, to risk making mistakes, and to figure out how to correct them. For instance, if you understand what it means to deglaze, or what flour does when exercised, it will help you to see how simple cooking really is. Most cookbooks are basically recipe collections that tell you exactly how to execute the recipes. What I am trying to do here is teach you how to cook so that you can start cooking without recipes. Each chapter starts with simpler recipes and moves to the more complicated. If you really cook your way through this book, you will have learned every technique that an accomplished home cook needs. You may, however, prefer to try recipes randomly. Hopefully this will be a learning experience as well. The concept of this book is to teach cooking through recipes, with additional information supplied throughout so that you will begin to understand cooking in its entirety. Although we teach much more in the full-time culinary kitchen of Tante Marie's Cooking School — how to cook sweetbreads and how to make aspic, for example — I have included only recipes in this book that I would serve in my own home.

When approaching a recipe, keep in mind that recipes are just guidelines; they do not have to be followed to the letter. However, it is a good idea not to start drastically changing a recipe until you've tried it first as it is written. The top of the recipe lists what ingredients to get out and what needs to be prepared ahead. Read through this to note when things like toasted nuts or melted butter are called for. What good cooks do when following a recipe is read through the recipe first to get clear in their minds the steps to be followed. They may refer back to the recipe once in a while, but not constantly. Keep in mind that when it says "chopped," "minced," "sifted," or "melted" before the ingredient, you do those things before measuring. When it says, for example, "1 cup chopped walnuts," chop them before measuring them.

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche

Although this first course takes some last-minute cooking, it is well worth the effort, especially to showcase your own smoked salmon.

3 large baking potatoes, peeled

3 tablespoons chopped scallions (equal amounts of white and green)

1 egg, beaten

3 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup crème fraîche

1/2 pound good-quality cold smoked salmon

1 lemon

To make the potato mixture, grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater. (Hold the potato lengthwise for longer pieces and thus crisper cakes.) Wrap the potatoes in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Mix the potatoes in a bowl with the scallions, egg, flour, and salt and pepper.

To make the cakes, melt enough butter to coat the bottom of a large nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat. Shape the potato mixture into 3-inch cakes. When the bubbles of hot butter subside, add the potato mixture, gently flattening each cake with the back of a spoon. Cook until nicely browned, about 2 minutes, turn the cakes over, and cook for about 2 more minutes. Transfer the cakes to paper towels and keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining potato mixture, adding butter as needed.

To serve, place the potato cakes on warmed salad plates, spread with a tablespoon of crème fraîche, and cover with thinly sliced smoked salmon. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on each and grind a bit of pepper over each cake. Serve warm.

Serves 6

It's unnecessary to keep peeled potatoes in cold water before cooking if you're going to brown the potatoes anyway.


If using home-smoked salmon, you may find it does not slice as evenly as you'd like. Don't worry; it will still taste delicious.

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Grilled Vegetable Tart

This summer tart of purple, green, and red vegetables sitting in a flavorful custard would make an attractive first course for a dinner outdoors. You can double the quantity of pastry and make individual tarts. Either way the tart can be made ahead and served at room temperature.

2 cups flour


12 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 egg yolk

Olive oil for coating the pan

2 to 3 Asian eggplants (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1/4-inch rounds

2 zucchini (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1/4-inch rounds

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, stemmed

1 egg yolk

4 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

1/2 cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper

To make the tart shell, put the flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the cold butter until it is the size of oatmeal flakes. Combine 1/4 cup cold water in a measuring cup with the egg yolk, stirring well with a fork. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the eg1/4-water mixture in the middle. With the fork straight up and down, mix together the dry and liquid ingredients. Bring the mixture together with the fingers of one hand. When a rough mass is formed, turn the dough onto a board and knead two or three times with the heel of your hand. To do this, smear the dough across the table and scrape it back together into a rough ball. Repeat. When the dough is together, in a loose mass, wrap it in waxed paper, press into a patty, and chill for about 30 minutes.

To cook the vegetables, pour enough olive oil in a wide sauté pan to coat the bottom of the pan by 1/4 inch and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the eggplant and zucchini slices, one layer at a time, until golden on each side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. When all of the vegetables are cooked, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, stirring. Turn off the heat.

To form the tart shell, remove the dough from the waxed paper and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the dough and a rolling pin and roll the dough away from you, turning it after each roll. If it sticks to the surface, add a little flour to the counter or the rolling pin. It is important to keep moving the dough so it doesn't stick to the board. When you have a dough roughly 10 inches round and 1/8 inch thick, fold it in half and in half again. Place the inside corner of the dough in the center of a 9-inch tart pan. Unfold the dough and lay it into the corners of the tart pan. Cut off excess dough around the edge, leaving an extra inch from the edge of the pan. Working at the opposite side of the pan, bring the dough toward you and fold back the extra dough to form a double-thick edge. Press this firmly into the pan, turning the pan continuously so that you are always working on the side farthest away from you. Decorate the top edge of the tart with the prongs of a fork or the heel of a knife, or by making twists with your fingers. Prick the tart shell two or three times with a fork. Line the unbaked shell with a piece of parchment paper. Fill the paper with pie weights, raw beans, or rice kept for this purpose. Bake the shell for 18 to 20 minutes, until it is lightly golden around the edges. (This is called baking blind.) Remove the paper and pie weights. Return the tart shell to the oven and cook it for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove it from the oven and chill in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To assemble the tart, combine the yolk, parsley, cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the bottom of the cooled crust. Pour the cream mixture over

the onion mixture and arrange the eggplant, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes in concentric circles on top, pressing gently. Bake the tart until the cream mixture is no longer runny, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6

This is an example of a tart made with basic pastry called pâte brisée in French. The idea is that the butter is cut into the flour in such a way that it becomes little flakes of cold butter surrounded by a paste of flour and liquid. These flakes of butter create steam in a hot oven, making the pastry flaky and light.


The best pans for making tarts are metal with removable bottoms. The tarts should be unmolded over a container like a box of salt and, if possible, the tart slid off the bottom onto a flat serving plate.


Pastry will always bake better when it is cold. First you make the dough, then you chill it. You roll it out and chill it again if it gets too soft. After the tart shell is baked blind, it must be chilled again before the filling is added; otherwise, the filling will leak through.

When a recipe calls for baking a tart shell blind, it means to pre-bake it with a false filling to prevent the final tart from becoming soggy. This is a step that can be skipped if you are an experienced baker and haven't got the time.


Spreading a thin layer of Parmesan or bread crumbs on the bottom of an unbaked tart shell will also help to prevent the bottom of the tart from becoming soggy when cooked.


Buy Japanese or Chinese eggplants that are firm and not too large; large eggplants can be spongy in the middle. In the past, cooks salted eggplant to remove bitterness, but these days eggplants are usually grown so they lack bitterness. The only reason to salt eggplant before cooking is to remove excess water before deep-frying.

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Fresh Corn Soup with Basil Butter

All year we wait to taste freshly picked corn. To bring out the fresh taste of corn, grate it, cook it briefly, and serve it with fresh basil butter — a quick and easy taste of summer! An interesting alternative to basil butter would be butter mixed with a puree of roasted red bell pepper. Either way, butter and corn are very good together.

1 bunch fresh basil

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened, plus 4 tablespoons butter

Coarse salt

Freshly ground white pepper

6 ears fresh yellow corn

1 medium-size onion, chopped

4 cups milk

To make the basil butter, wash and dry the basil leaves, roll them up, and cut them into fine shreds (called chiffonade) with a sharp knife. In a small bowl, cream the 1/4 pound butter with a wooden spoon. Mix in the basil with salt and pepper to taste. Place the basil butter on a square of waxed paper and, using the paper, roll up into a log about an inch in diameter.

To prepare the corn, remove and discard the husks. With a sharp knife, remove the outer two-thirds of the kernels from each ear. Using the back of the knife, scrape down the cobs to remove any remaining juices. This is called milking an ear of corn. You can also place a large box grater on its side in a glass baking dish and grate the corn off the cob horizontally.

To make the soup, cook the onion in the 4 tablespoons butter with a sprinkling of salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring from time to time, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the corn kernels and milk from the cob as well as the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Puree the soup on the stove using an immersion blender if it is too chunky. The soup does not have to be perfectly smooth. Reheat the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and top each with a tablespoon of basil butter.

Serves 4

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Cappellacci of Herb Ricotta, Soft Egg, and Parmesan

This very special pasta appeals to a lover of eggs, butter, and cheese! Because they're so rich, only one ravioli is served to each person. When the diner cuts into the ravioli with a fork, the soft egg yolk mixes with the melted butter and freshly grated Parmesan to make a splendid sauce for the ricotta-filled pasta.

1 cup ricotta

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley

Coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound freshly made pasta sheets

8 eggs

1/2 pound (2 sticks) melted butter

To make the filling, combine the ricotta, half the Parmesan, and the parsley in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the cappellacci, lay a length (about 5 inches wide and 24 inches long) of freshly made pasta on a board. Using your fingers, make very thin rings of the ricotta mixture right on the dough about 1 1/2 inches across in the center and at 4-inch intervals.

Gently break each egg into your hand, saving or discarding the white, and place each yolk in the center of each ring of ricotta. Cover with another length of freshly made pasta about the same size. Carefully press the top dough onto the lower dough by cupping your hands around the filling and pressing any air bubbles out through the edges. With a 4-inch fluted ring cutter, cut out each eg1/4-filled ravioli and lay it on a floured wooden counter or board. Let the ravioli dry for 15 minutes, turn over, and dry on the other side for another 15 minutes. They are now ready to cook but can be transferred to a baking sheet lined with a floured tea towel for cooking later in the day.

To cook the pasta, fill a pasta pot or other large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a tablespoon of salt and carefully drop in the large rounds of filled pasta. Return the water to just below a boil and cook, stirring very gently. Cook the ravioli until they float or you can easily pierce one with your fingernail, about 2 minutes. With a flat slotted spoon or sieve remove each ravioli, one at a time, blot on a towel, and place in the middle of a warmed plate. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan and spoon over plenty of melted butter.

Serves 8

The sheets of fresh pasta should adhere to each other. If they get dry, you can brush a little water around each ring of ricotta. The important thing is not to have any air bubbles or the ravioli will open when cooked in the water.


Parmesan is a hard grating cheese made from the curd of cow's milk after the milk has been broken down into curds and whey. Parmesan usually ages for at least fourteen months. When made in the old-fashioned manner, ricotta is a fresh cheese made by reboiling the whey to get more curds. This fresh cheese is high in protein.

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Sauté of Chicken with Shallots

Here is a simple and delicious classic chicken sauté. Serve it with roasted potatoes and buttered green beans and have a good time.

One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

2 tablespoons oil

16 whole shallots, peeled

1 bay leaf

1 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

To cook the chicken, sprinkle the pieces generously with salt and pepper. Heat enough of the butter and oil to make a 1/4-inch layer in a 10-inch sauté pan. Place the pan over moderately high heat. When the bubbles have subsided, place some of the chicken pieces skin side down with about 1 inch space between them. When the chicken has browned nicely, turn over each piece with tongs and brown on all sides. Do not push the chicken around when browning and do not crowd the pan. Remove each piece of chicken as it browns and put it on a plate. Continue with the rest of the chicken, making sure there is always a layer of butter or oil on the bottom of the pan, even when there is only one piece of chicken left. When all the chicken has browned, pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan and immediately stir in the shallots. Cook the shallots over moderate heat, stirring, until they are lightly browned. Add the bay leaf and half the chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Return the chicken to the pan with its juices, reduce the heat to a bare simmer, cover, and let cook until the chicken is opaque when cut into with a knife, about 20 minutes.

When the chicken is done, place it on a warmed serving platter and surround it with the shallots. Keep warm. Let the sauté pan cool for 5 minutes and spoon off any fat that rises to the top. Place the pan over moderately high heat and add the remaining chicken stock, scraping up any sediment from the bottom of the pan with a flat wooden spatula. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, spoon the sauce over the chicken, and sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 4

To cut up a raw chicken, first remove the bag of innards inside the chicken and the blob of fat. Turn the chicken onto its breast with the tail toward you. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut out the backbone from the tail to the neck on each side. All the innards in the bag except the liver and the backbone can be saved for making chicken stock. At this point, run a sharp knife down the breastbone and cartilage covering the breastbone to slit the filament. With your thumbs on either side of the breastbone and your fingers underneath the breastbone, flip the breastbone up through the cut filament, breaking it on either side. Run your fingers down the cartilage to loosen and remove the breastbone and cartilage. If this seems too complicated, simply try your best to cut down the center of the chicken, dividing it in half. To cut it into quarters, feel for the thinnest part that joins the breast to the thigh. Lay the half chicken on a board, lift a leg, and cut the skin with a sharp knife, then cut straight down between the breast and thigh. Do the same with the other half. To disjoint the leg from the thigh, use the knife to cut down to the joint and wiggle to see exactly where you can slide the knife between the leg and the thigh. To cut the breast and wing quarter in half, cut the breast with your scissors so that it is an equal-sided triangle. This will give the wing piece a bit of breast meat. It looks better if you cut off and discard the last joint of the wing. You should now have eight pieces.


After cutting raw chicken on a wooden or plastic board or counter, always clean the board, knife, and scissors with soap, bleach, and hot water.


To sauté food means to cook it in such a hot pan that it almost jumps around. In a sauté of chicken pieces, the chicken is first browned and then cooked, covered, in a straight-sided pan. It is a dish unique to chicken.

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Boned Leg of Lamb with Orange-Herb Stuffing

This old-fashioned recipe for butterflying a leg of lamb, stuffing it with an orange-herb stuffing, and coating it with flour, eggs, and bread crumbs is still good. It is a great way to take an ordinary leg of lamb and make it very appealing for a dinner. Since lamb doesn't reheat very well, it is best to make the roast ahead, put it in the oven when the guests arrive, and spend a few minutes finishing the sauce while your guests are at the table.

1 small onion, finely chopped

Coarse salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1 1/2 cups fine bread crumbs

4 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs, such as Italian parsley, chives, and/or thyme

Zest and juice of 1 orange

Freshly ground black pepper

1 leg of lamb, butterflied, about 7 pounds

3/4 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 medium-size onion, sliced

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon red currant jelly

To make the stuffing, heat the onion with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium-size frying or sauté pan over moderately high heat. Cook the onion, stirring from time to time, until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, herbs, and orange zest and juice with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

To stuff the lamb, first roll the lamb with both hands to resemble a football to see how the final roast should look. Trim any excess fat, leaving the thin membrane covering the leg, which is called the fell. Open it up and season the meat with salt and pepper. Lay the orange-herb stuffing down the middle of the length of the leg. Roll the lamb again into a football shape. Tie the roast in three or four places along the width of the roast. (You want to make the roast long so that it will be easier to carve later.) Tie another string around the roast lengthwise. Try to tie the roast in as few places as possible, because when you take the strings off later, the crust will come off, too.

To coat the lamb, make three plates: one of flour seasoned with salt and pepper, one of beaten eggs, and the remaining bread crumbs. With the seam side down and using your hands, cover the roast with seasoned flour, then with egg, and then with the bread crumbs. Without rolling the roast over, place the lamb in a roasting pan without a rack, seam side down, pour over the melted butter, and put it deep in a 350-degree oven. The lamb is cooked to medium-rare when an instant thermometer inserted in the thick part of the meat registers 120 degrees, about an hour.

To make the sauce, transfer the roast to a warmed serving platter to rest for 10 minutes. Carefully remove all the strings. Add the sliced onion to the roasting pan and cook over moderately high heat, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the onion with the tablespoon of flour and press in with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, until the flour begins to color. Stir in the stock and the jelly. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture thickens. Add orange juice and salt and pepper to taste. Strain the sauce into a warmed sauceboat.

To serve, put the lamb on a serving platter and carve enough 1/2-inch slices for each person and leave the rest of the roast whole. Lay the slices overlapping, spoon a little of the sauce down the middle of the slices, and serve the rest separately. Serve with glazed onions, carrots, and buttered green beans. Arrange these vegetables in mounds around the roast.

Serves 8

To butterfly a leg of lamb, lay the leg on a board with the rounded side down. First, remove the "aitch" bone, part of the hip. To do this, use a small, sharp knife to slide the meat away from the bone. Always cut away from yourself and use your fingers to feel where the contours of the bone are. It is easy to start boning up the leg bone rather than disjointing it by feeling for the round shiny end of the bone embedded in the aitch bone. Be sure to cut around the bone, keeping the knife close to the bone. After the aitch bone is removed, use the knife to slide the meat off from around the lower part of the leg. Now there is only one bone left. With your knife held straight up and down, cut into the meat, making a cut along the top of the remaining leg bone and cutting down to the bone. Without cutting toward yourself, run the knife around the bone in both directions without cutting down to the board. You should be able to remove all the leg and thigh bones. Now the butterflied leg of lamb has a flat side and a rounded side. With the knife held parallel to the board, cut through the thick round part to open it up like a book and lay it flat. Remove the thick piece of fat about the size of a large marble; otherwise it will give the final dish a muttony taste.


According to butchers, lambs have only two legs, which are the back legs. The front legs are cut to make lamb shanks and shoulder of lamb (lamb stew meat).


Boning a leg of lamb means to take the bones entirely out of the roast without cutting the meat. Butterflying means cutting the meat in such a way that it will lie flat. There is no such word as "deboning" — it's like using the word "un-thawing."


Instead of an orange-herb stuffing, you can make a tapenade stuffing. In this case, do not put red currant jam or orange juice in the final sauce. To make tapenade, mix together 4 ounces pitted black olives, 1/2 tablespoon rinsed capers, 4 anchovy fillets, and 1 garlic clove in a food processor. Pour olive oil on top of the roast instead of butter.

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Meyer Lemon Crème Brûlée

Meyer lemons are becoming more available because they are so sweet and uniquely flavored. This is simply a variation on that perennial favorite, crème brûlée. It's fine to make this recipe with limes; just add a little more sugar.

Grated zest of 4 Meyer lemons (or 6 limes)

1 quart heavy cream

8 egg yolks

4 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup sugar


To make the custard, heat the zest with the cream in a medium-size saucepan over moderate heat. Combine the yolks with the 4 tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl. Whisk until light and lemon colored. Strain the scalded cream into the yolk mixture. Add a few grains of salt. Pour the mixture into eight 3- or 4-inch ramekins or ceramic gratin dishes. Place the molds in a larger pan, put the pan on the middle shelf in the oven, and fill the dish with enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the molds. Cover the molds with one piece of foil and bake the custards in a 350-degree oven until barely set, about 35 minutes. Cool at room temperature. Chill.

To brown the tops of the crème brûlée, put the remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a fine sieve. Shake the sugar over the crème brûlée, making an even layer about 1/4 inch thick. Using a blowtorch, brown the sugar lightly to create a crust. Leave at room temperature to cool. Do not refrigerate again, or the sugar on top will liquefy.

Serves 12

Using a blowtorch is fun; just be sure to light it facing away from you. It is best not to move the blowtorch around to brown things — keep it in one place until the desired color is reached.


Whenever a recipe calls for sieving an ingredient on top, always put the ingredient in the sieve over the counter, not over the food. Otherwise you will have a mass of sugar or whatever where it fell through the sieve.

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Raspberry Truffles

These are unusual truffles because they are composed of a chocolate mixture wrapped around a fresh raspberry!

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet

chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup raspberry jam, melted and


2 tablespoons framboise (or kirsch)

16 fresh raspberries

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

To make the truffle mixture, heat the chocolate with the butter in a bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, without allowing the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture gently until melted and smooth. Let cool for a moment, then stir in the raspberry jam and the framboise. Chill until firm.

To form the truffles, sift the cocoa onto a plate. Scoop out a teaspoon of the truffle mixture, and with your fingertips press it around a fresh raspberry and drop it into the cocoa. Roll the truffle around in the cocoa and lift it with a fork to transfer it to a little candy cup. Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture and raspberries. Chill. Serve within 24 hours.

Makes 16 truffles

If you look at old cookbooks, you will find that thirty years ago cooks were using coffee to make cooking chocolate taste stronger. Now, fortunately, we can buy a variety of good cooking chocolates. For flavored chocolate truffles, Callebaut bittersweet or semisweet is a fine cooking chocolate.

Text copyright © 2003 by Mary Risley

Meet the Author

Mary Risley is founder and owner of Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco, California. Inspired by Julia Child, Mary established her school in 1979, after teaching cooking to friends in her apartment for many years. Mary currently oversees the school's operations and travels frequently, giving cooking demonstrations throughout the U.S. and Canada. A regular contributor to Bon Appetit, Mary also writes for Saveur and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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