From the Publisher
"The first thing I do whenever I plan a visit to New York is make a reservation at Balthazar; this is quite the best room in Manhattan."
"I went for breakfast; I stayed till supper."
"The brandade. The bouillabaisse. The frites. These are a few of the things I would want to cook every week from Balthazar, were it not infinitely more cheerful to eat them on site."
"Keith McNally and his exceptional team have managed to consistently satisfy every American's dream of spending an evening or lunch or even breakfast somewhere in Paris without ever leaving the U.S.A."
"From the first moment, Balthazar felt like a place that had been part of the New York landscape for a hundred years."
"The talent and spirit of chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr are at the heart of this wonderful transported brasserie, which happens to be my favorite downtown restaurant."
"The enchanting atmosphere of Balthazar combined with the rightness of the food and service together create an extraordinary restaurant."
"If Balthazar did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it."
"Keith McNally is an old friend of mine and even I'm not treated that well."
Whether or not readers are familiar with Balthazar, Manhattan's booming, six-year-old brasserie, they're in for a delight. The restaurant's cookbook lifts the lid on the essence of French brasserie cooking, unearthing the secrets to making a deliciously sharp, perfectly melted gratin (use Swiss Gruy re, Emmentaler or Comt ); frying french fries (fry them once to cook them thoroughly, then again to crisp the exterior); burnishing sugar atop a creme br lee (it should "crack like thin ice"); and more. Art critic Hughes paints a brilliant portrait of Balthazar in his foreword, marveling at the unbelievable quantity of ingredients Balthazar tears through (40 pounds of mushrooms a day; 30 pounds of garlic a week) and the staff's ability to hide the kitchen's pressure cooker-like atmosphere from diners: "out on the floor it's all politeness, smiles, and yes-sir-no-sir, while backstage it's Jesus, where is it, get that fucking stuff over here, and where's the goddamn morels?" Home chefs need not be so stressed, as the authors (McNally owns the place; Nasr and Hanson are chefs) present clear and simple recipes for such classics as Salade Nicoise, Steak Tartare, Bouillabaisse, Coq au Vin, Duck Confit, Cassoulet and Steak Frites. Injecting a touch of humor (Frisee aux Lardons, normally a meal unto itself, could make a first course "for those who believe strongly in bacon fat"), the authors explain techniques, such as shucking oysters and cleaning leeks, and more obscure ingredients, such as Japanese bread crumbs and fines herbes. Like its food, Balthazar's cookbook is uncomplicated, elegant and timeless. 100 color, 40 b&w photos. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Balthazar is perhaps the most popular of restauranteur McNally's hip New York City eateries, which also include Pastis and Lucky Strike. In this attractively designed cookbook, McNally and his two chefs, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, both alums of Restaurant Daniel, with food writer Kathryn Kellinger, present the brasserie and bistro classics that Balthazar is known for, from Fris e aux Lardons and Rillettes la Fermiere to Roast Chicken for Two and, of course, Steak Frites. Well written and accessible, the recipes often include helpful tips for the home cook. Color and black-and-white photographs help convey the ambiance of the restaurant, and the foreword by art critic Robert Hughes, a devoted fan, provides additional context. For most collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
ONION SOUP GRATINÉE
This simple and hearty soup, rich with burnished onions and sweet port, is topped with tangy Gruyère. Borrow a custom from Bordeaux and spill a little red wine into the bottom of your nearly empty soup bowl. The tradition, known as chabrot, dictates a quick swirl of wine into the tail-end of the hot broth and then a hearty gulp right from the bowl. Tradition does not dictate doing all of this while undressed, but rumor has it that it makes the soup taste even better. We've been too shy to try it.
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, peeled, halved through the stem end, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 quarts Chicken Stock (page 230)
1/2 cup port
6 slices of country bread, about 1 inch thick, toasted
2 cups Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and, stirring frequently to prevent burning, sauté until they reach a golden color, approximately 30 minutes. Add the butter, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the white wine, bring to a boil, and reduce the wine by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the Chicken Stock and simmer for 45 minutes.
Preheat the broiler.
Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and swirl the port into the finished soup. Ladle the soup into 6 ovenproof bowls. Fit the toasted bread into the bowls on top of the liquid, and sprinkle 1/3 cup of Gruyère onto each slice. Place under the broiler for 3 minutes, or until the cheese melts to a crispy golden brown. Allow the soup to cool slightly, about 3 minutes, before serving.