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Jan 14, 2008 07:27 AM

A French Laundry Dinner at Home

For the second year in a row, I cooked a French Laundry inspired meal for my wife's birthday - for her and 11 friends! - mostly using the FL cookbook. For the second year in a row, everything turned out great, but required a ridiculous amount of work and being able to adjust a few things as the cooking times don't always hold true. Cooking from this cookbook makes you really appreciate the depth of technique and detail that goes into these dishes - the flavors, combinations, creativity, and visuals are all incredible in these recipes.

Rather than typing up a full accounting - I'll simply point to a flickr set of photos I posted (including a lot of the prep work that went into the dishes). The are detailed descriptions for each photo to help explain what they are!

The dishes I did this year from the cookbook included...
"Peas and Carrots" (lobster crepes!)
"Surf and Turf" (monkfish and braised oxtails!)
"Coffee and Donuts" (cappucino semifreddo and donuts)
"PB&J" (PB chocolate truffles and concord grape "jellies")
one I called "Eggs" (white truffle custard w black truffle ragout)
and "Chips and Dip" - a recipe I found online from Keller for fingerling chips and green goddess dip

All turned out great


And to see last years meal (which included Kellers' crab salad, "Fish and Chips," the amazing cones with salmon, and a truffle version of the "Chips and Dip" - see )

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  1. Your wife is a lucky lady! Fabulous pics, fabulous effort. Did you pull this off all yourself? Or did you have a sous-chef? Last summer, I made a five course meal for DH's birthday (just the two of us) using a couple of recipes from the French Laundry and recipes from other sources. I've got to say that FL's recipes were the most labor-intensive recipes I've tackled. It was a lot of freakin' work for just five courses for two people. I can only imagine how difficult it was to do this for 12!

    And I've been too intimidated to make the cornets. I just used toast points. How difficult were they?

    And not to steal your thunder, have you checked out this blog?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Miss Needle

      Thanks, last year I did it all by myself (same deal, for 12), and this year I had two friends join me during the meal who mainly helped with plating, serving, and cleaning up. It is a lot of work! They were a huge help. These are indeed the most labor-intensive recipes I've ever been through.

      The cornets are a bit tricky, but I think they're worth it. I didn't even have a mold, but used a wooden cone type thing and wrapped aluminum foil around it to form homemade molds.

      And, yes, I have seen the blog - it is very good reading!

    2. I'm impressed. Not only did you make all those courses, but you were able to photograph play by plays. I was given Bouchon for Christmas and this has gotten me motivated to start playing with it.

      1. Wow...beautiful photos! The food looks great. I've never been to the FL, but recently went to Per Se and just loved it. I have a lot of cookbooks by acclaimed chefs like this one, such as Charlie Trotter and love to make things, but always run into issues with the ingredients. There are always so many things I can't find, or you know as a home cook you won't be able to find the same quality of ingredient, such as a beautiful loin of sushi grade tuna, etc. Do you have any of these issues? Do you just substitute? I get frustrated and then decide not to make the dish because it won't be the same!

        4 Replies
        1. re: sibeats

          Getting good ingredients takes some work (I probably hit 5 or 6 different markets for this one meal), but, at least here in Atlanta, everything is pretty much available if you know where to go (I did a combo of Whole Foods, Dekalb Farmers Market, Savor, Star Provisions, and Publix!).

          Last year, I had to special order the fish through a local market. Most places will do that for you if their suppliers can get it to them.

          1. re: biskuit

            Well you are certainly driven! Sounds like you spent a lot of time planning this all out and executing it. I'm impressed...and jealous! I think I'll have to try making the salmon tartare cornets for my next cocktail party. Did you get a special holder for them for presentation purposes like at Per Se?

            1. re: sibeats

              Check out the photo below for what I used for the cornets. You can use any bowl or tray that is several inches deep, fill it with peppercorns or something that looks nice and can hold the cornets in place without breaking them (marbles would be too heavy). It worked pretty well.

              1. re: biskuit

                Great idea...and very pretty. I always marvel at the custom made serving pieces that these great chefs use. I've gotten hooked on "Behind the Bash" on the Food Network, and some of the caterers have some really incredible things that they serve their HD's on...lots of fun!

        2. Those photos are just phenomenal. I want your camera. No, let me rethink that. I want you here taking photos for me. I'd offer to be your sous-chef in exchange, but your knife skills are clearly beyond mine. Those dice! Are we going to have to wait for your wife's next birthday for more?

          2 Replies
          1. re: JoanN

            Thanks! I enjoy the photography, but have a lot to learn still. The mandoline I used helped a lot with the dice - making even julienne strips that you can then dice pretty quickly.

            1. re: biskuit

              What a great idea! It never even occurred to me. And I even have one of those expensive Brons (a gift, I assure you) that doesn't get the use it deserves. Thanks heaps for that tip. Gorgeous dice, here I come!

          2. Congratulations! I have been to FL once, and your food looks very similar to the one they serve. I bought the book, and read it, but didn't attempt to cook anything from it yet. You are very brave!