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.”
About the Author
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.
Thomas Keller, author of THE FRENCH LAUNDRY COOKBOOK, BOUCHON, UNDER PRESSURE, AD HOC AT HOME, and BOUCHON BAKERY, has six restaurants and five 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. That same year, he launched Cup4Cup, the first gluten-free flour that replaces traditional all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour in any recipe, cup for cup, such that you’d never know the difference. As part of the ment’or BKB Foundation, established with chefs Jerome Bocuse and Daniel Boulud, Keller led Team USA to win silver at the 2015 Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France, which was the first time the United States has ever placed on the podium.
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.
Read an Excerpt
Chesapeake Bay Soft-shell Crab "Sandwich"
- 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.
Table of Contents
Pleasure and Perfection
The Road to the French Laundry
A Sad Happy Story
About the Chef
When in Doubt, Strain: Notes on How to Use This Book
The Law of Diminishing Returns
The Mushroom Lady
The Importance of Hollandaise
Hearts of Palm Grower
Tools of Refinement: The Chinois and Tamis
The Importance of Staff Meal
A Passion for Fish
The Accidental Fishmonger
Beurre Monte: The Workhorse Sauce
The Importance of Trussing Chicken
Salt and Pepper and Vinegar
Braising and the Virtue of the Process
The Pittsburgh Lamber
The Importance of Rabbits
The Importance of Offal
Stocks and Sauces
The Composed Cheese Course
The Importance of France
The Attorney Cheesemaker
Beginning and Ending
The Ultimate Purveyors
List of Recipes
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Yes, this is a cookbook, with recipes; yes, it's a coffee-table book, with wonderful food-porn photography. And yes, it's nouvelle French-Californian, with an emphasis on ingredients and honesty and intensities. But most importantly however, it's about technique and philosophy. One probably is not going to and cannot "do" what Chef Keller does at the French Laundry in Napa. But you can pay attention to your ingredients and their tastes and colors and textures and what you're doing to them, and you can plan how you're going to plate your food. You can plan what you're going to give to your family and friends to eat and to give them pleasure. Although this book is definitely not a how-to, it does show the rest of us what a world-class pro at the top of his game thinks and gives us a vision of magic.
My son bought this book and has made several magnificent meals by meticulously following the directions. If you like to cut corners, or if you're looking for a quick and dirty method for throwing together a dinner, you won't like this book. But, if you really want to know how the pros make everything taste sublime, then this book will tell you. Be sure and try the duck, (and render the fat to use later),absolutely wonderful.
I am a Culinary Arts (i have been enlightened here (again) by Mr. Keller,it is a craft not an art!) student. There is really no reason why any serious cook should not own this book. If you really care, you will love to have articulated (and articulated well) what you have thought and felt about food. Then Mr. Keller takes that to the Nth degree and basically beats you w/ his Dr. Suess-y genius. Looking at the pictures almost made me want to quit and run to the hills because he is light years away from what i think i will ever be capable of. It is close to perfect and i am sure that Mr. Keller racks his poor brain hourly trying to improve his book. If ever there was a cook book of this sort that might ever have a 5th(+) edition this is it. I will have the whole lot of them. That is why i gave it only 4 stars.
The illustrations are awesome. The text describes unfamiliar items and suggests where to find them. Terms specific to French cooking are defined in language that anyone can understand. I bought this book as a gift and would buy it for my home as well.
This is not only a cookbook, it is also a visual a piece of art. Mr. Keller's philosophy of food has taken the California Fresh movement and injected some lately lacking enthusiasm with some of the most original ideas to come along in a long time. A bit obsessive with procedure but many of the ideas are adaptable to every day cooking. Totally original.
A startling beautiful book. Not just recipes but a thoughtful commentary on what really good food is about and why cooks should 'bother'. Anyone who truly cares about the art of cooking should give this book a try.
THE FRENCH LAUNDRY COOKBOOK is not just a cookbook, it's a guided tour of sensual taste experiences by legendary chef Thomas Keller. Each time I open the book, I feel I'm on a culinary journey of self-discovery with "the master", who teaches and explains ingredients and techniques so patiently and so well. I've learned to approach the preparation and presentation of my food from an entirely new perspective.
Thomas Keller has a clear definition of what he wants to say with his food, and does so gracefully and harmonously. A perfect cookbook to inspire and evoke passions in your own cooking. Excellent book.
This book brings back the fine art of food at its best. A must have to any cookbook enthusiast or chef
Gorgeous! I may never make a thing from this book, the one that started it all with big, beautiful food porn, but it sure is fun to look at.
The rare chefbook which manages to capture the soul of its subject as well as just the recipes. Read the passage of rabbits and you will learn a new respect for what you cook.
There is some gorgeous photography; however, I do not think it will help with cooking. The recipes seem very complicated (not for beginners I imagine). I will be saving this one for special occasions, although I do want to go through a few recipes to learn some techniques.
Feast for the eyes. Good recipes. Wish it was more of an educational/ tutorial book. I have no idea how to make the dishes look as pictured.
Product was as described, excellent condition, pretty quick on the delivery (it always takes longer!). Would buy again.