The French Laundry Cookbook
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The French Laundry Cookbook

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by Thomas Keller
     
 

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2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley—“the most exciting place to eat in the United States” (The New York Times). The most transformative cookbook of the century celebrates this milestone by showcasing the genius of chef/proprietor Thomas Keller himself. Keller is a wizard, a

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Overview

2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley—“the most exciting place to eat in the United States” (The New York Times). The most transformative cookbook of the century celebrates this milestone by showcasing the genius of chef/proprietor Thomas Keller himself. Keller 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 Wine Spectator described as “as close to dining perfection as it gets.”




 

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Editorial Reviews

Ruth Reichl
The most exciting place to eat in the United States.
The New York Times
S Irene Virbila
An astonishing cook, blessed with rare intelligence and impeccable taste.
Los Angeles Times Magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
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, Lexington P.L., KY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Marian Burros
Obviously, practicality is not a strong point. But as a testament to the work of one of the best chefs in America and as a piece of art, it deserves its honors...for those who want to impress their friends and for those who just love to read cookbooks, this may be $50 well spent.
The New York Times
Entertainment Editors Weekly Editors
You may never make it to the famous Napa Vally restaurant, but you can page through its cookbook, which is a big, splendid affair, generous with text and pictures.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781579651268
Publisher:
Artisan
Publication date:
11/01/1999
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
89,584
Product dimensions:
11.25(w) x 11.31(h) x 1.25(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chesapeake Bay Soft-shell Crab "Sandwich"

SAUCE

  • 2 hard-boiled egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Chicken Stock, heated, or hot water
  • 3 tablespoons cornichon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3tablespoons minced cornichons
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Brunoise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

    Canola oil for deep-frying

  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 6 live soft-shell crabs
  • Clarified Butter, for panfrying
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Flour for dusting
  • 6 brioche Croutons
  • 6 pieces Tomato Confit, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup baby arugula (or regular arugula cut into chiffonade--long narrow strips)

This is not really a sandwich, of course, but the dish was inspired by my love of traditional soft-shell crab sandwiches heaped with tomatoes and tartar sauce. I've refashioned the ingredients of a classic tartar sauce--egg yolks, dill pickles, capers--as hard-boiled yolks, Dijon mustard, and cornichons. On top of the sauce, I put a crouton, then the crab, trimmed down to just its body and claws, then tomato confit, arugula, and fried capers.

FOR THE SAUCE: Blend the egg yolks, chicken stock, cornichon juice, and mustard in a blender. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil so the mixture emulsifies. Remove the sauce to a small bowl and stir in the remaining sauce ingredients. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days: bring to room temperature before serving.

FOR THE CAPERS: In a very small pot, heat about 2 inches of canola oil to 250 F. Add the drained capers and fry slowly for 12 to 15 minutes, or until bubbles have stopped forming around the capers and they are dry and crunchy. Drain them on paper towels.

TO CLEAN THE CRABS: Using a pair of scissors, cut off the crabs' faces and discard. Cut off the two large claws where they meet the body and reserve. Cut off and discard the smaller legs and trim the sides of the body for a smooth edge. Lift off the apron, the pointed piece on the underside of each crab. Remove the lungs and any other matter beneath the apron. Rinse the six bodies and twelve claws and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1/8 inch of clarified butter in a large skillet over meduim heat. Season the pieces of crab with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, patting off any excess. Add the crab bodies shell side down to the hot butter. The butter should be hot enough to sizzle when the crabs are added, but not so hot that it pops and spurts from the pan. Saute the crab bodies for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are golden brown and crusty on the bottom. Turn the bodies, add the claws, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; turn the claws after about 1 minute. Remove the crab pieces and drain on paper towels.

TO COMPLETE: Place a spoonful of sauce in the center of each serving plate. Center a crouton on the sauce and top it with a crab body. Fold a piece of tomato confit in half and place it over the crab. Arrange 2 claws over each piece of tomato and finish with a stack of baby arugula. Sprinkle the plates with the fried capers. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings

Strawberry Sorbet Shortcakes with Sweetened Creme Fraiche Sauce

STRAWBERRY SORBET Makes 1 Quart

  • 2 1/2 pounds strawberries, preferably organic, rinsed and hulled
  • 1/4 cup honey, or to taste
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt

    BISCUITS Makes 8 or 9

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for cutting the biscuits
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted cold butter, cut into chunks
  • About 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons milk

    CREME FRAICHE SAUCE Makes 3/4 Cup

  • 3/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split
  • 3/4 cup chopped strawberries, drained Sugar to taste Powders sugar, in a shaker

All the components of this dessert can be made ahead. The uncooked biscuits can be frozen and bakes directly from the freezer. Or, since the biscuit doubles easily, you may want to make a double batch and freeze half the unbaked biscuits for another time.

FOR THE STRAWBERRY SORBET: Puree the strawberries in a blender and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. You should have about 4 cups. Add the honey, superfine sugar, and salt. Freeze in an ice-cream machine, then transfer to a container and place in the freezer.

FOR THE BISCUITS: Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the butter and rub the butter and flour through your fingertips until they are completely combined and the butter is in small beads. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in 1/2 cup buttermilk and the milk. Use a dough scraper to incorporate the milk and flour from the edges toward the center. If the dough seems too dry, add a little more buttermilk. The finished dough should feel damp, but not wet, and be a "shaggy mess," not a solid mass. Turn the dough out onto parchment and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 500 F. Stack two baking sheets (for more even heat distribution) and place a piece of parchment on top. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll out 1/2 inch thick. Dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter in flour and cut out rounds. Place the rounds 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.

FOR THE CREME FRAICHE SAUCE: Combine the creme fraiche and sugar in a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the creme fraiche, add the pod, and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the sauce from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Keep the sauce warm, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sweeten the drained chopped strawberries with sugar to taste.

TO COMPLETE: Rewarm the creme fraiche sauce over low heat. Cut the biscuits into neat round with a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter and split them in half. Dust the tops with powdered sugar. Put a spoonful of sauce on each plate. Top with the bottoms of the biscuits. Spoon the chopped berries over the biscuits and cover each with a quenelle, or small scoop, of sorbet. Set the tops of the biscuits on the sorbet and serve. Serves 8 Gazpacho

  • 1 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped English cucumber
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • Sprig of thyme
  • Balsamic Glaze, in a squeeze bottle

Don't always think of gazpacho as a soup. Think of it as a sauce. Think of it hot as well as cold. It goes beautifully with grilled chicken or fish. Gazpacho is served in small portions as a canape at the French Laundry, garnished with balsamic glaze, or as a sauce with the Salad of Globe Artichokes with Garden Herbs and Gazpacho. It can also be served in larger portions as a traditional cold soup. This soup couldn't be easier; it achieves its powerful flavor simply by overnight maceration, which is the only "cooking" involved. Mix all the ingredients except the balsamic glaze together in a bowl or other container, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, remove the thyme and blend all the ingredients in a blender until the gazpacho is smooth. You will have about 2 quarts. For a smoother texture, strain the soup to yield about 1 quart. Refrigerate the gazpacho until ready to serve.

TO COMPLETE: Ladle the cold soup into bowls and squeeze dots of balsamic glaze over the top.

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