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Ad Hoc At Home by Thomas Keller.

Am thinking of adding this one to my burgeoning collection. Does anyone have it? Any reviews? It looks good; I don't own any of his other cookbooks (should I?). Have you cooked anything from it?


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  1. I checked out the Amazon reviews and there are nothing but happy words for this book. To paraphrase one reviewer, it'll make you a better cook. I tend to buy cookbooks for the photos; I'm sure this book has lots of beautiful ones.
    Price-wise, it's not out of line, either, $31 and change.
    I have a lot of books on my wish list (and in my collection) but this one is at the top of the list right now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      I saw it on Amazon, too. Great reviews. I think I'll order it next week.

    2. Here’s the starred Publishers Weekly review:


      I’m sure the recipes are marvelous, but I’m getting a wee bit tired of oversized, overproduced (overpriced) doorstops from Artisan. And I wonder if I really need yet another book that tells me how to truss a chicken and brine meat. I’ll eagerly await your reviews of the book (and hope you’ll post once you start cooking from it).

      In the meantime, here are some recipes to sample:

      Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
      Caramelized Sea Scallops
      Leek Bread Pudding


      Not sure if this is in the book, but it’s the fried chicken recipe from the restaurant.


      And I'll bet there will be a lot more online as the usual bloggers begin to dip into it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JoanN

        I hope so, it still looks good to me. My tendency on this is to wait until it's out for a while and get a barely used one (I have so many cookbooks I try to be frugal :-{ ).
        Will certainly post recipes if/when I get it. Thanks so much for the info.

      2. Received my copy a few days ago but haven't cooked anything. It looks very good and has tons of interesting recipes I will try. Therrecipes are simpler than in the Bouchon and TFL cookbooks (which I also really like) but still are not simple (cooking several different vegetables separately for a soup etc.). There is a interesing discussion on egullet about the book with some good reviews at the bottom.

        http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/... -at-home/

        1. I would love to make the leek bread pudding recipe from this book that has been all over the internet. But, while I don't exactly want a low-fat version, 3 cups of whole milk AND 3 cups of heavy cream on top of the butter and eggs and cheese makes me feel kind of sick. I'm sure I'd love it if I ordered in the restaurant, but sometimes, well, you don't want to know what they put in the sausage. Any ideas how to tone it down a bit?

          2 Replies
          1. re: smgord

            You are aware that the recipe is for 10-12 people as a sidedish which means that the amount of heavy cream per person is not that high. In addition (as TK) often mentions fat is important part of dishes to combine the flavors. I wouldn't try to change the recipe if you want the full taste (otherwise why even bother to make it). (I also never understood this fat-phobia in the US).

            1. re: honkman

              I made the leek bread pudding over the weekend for four -- it was really easy to cut down the recipe to that size, and we still had leftovers. It's delicious, has great mouthfeel and was really pretty easy.

              One of the diners put it this way -- he looked at me quite seriously and said, "now don't take this the wrong way, it reminds me of the French's green bean casserole, but it's so much more refined and I'm not embarrassed to eat it ..." Which I took as high praise, if somewhat inarticulately delivered! The dreaded casserole happens to be one of his (and my) favorite guilty pleasures. We broke it down, and decided that it was the homey-ness of the dish, on a cold night, that leaned on memories of being happy and taken care of. Not a bad thing for a bread pudding to accomplish!

          2. I got this book last week. So far I've made the fried chicken and biscuits which were absolutely amazing however a bit heavy on the amount of salt suggested. All the recipes look great and I can't wait to try out more this week. There's a lot of great tips included too.

            1. I picked it up last week. I agree that it's a bit unwieldy - it's a coffee-table sized book, and not exactly handy for propping up in the kitchen as you cook. It's also not something for casual cooking; most of the recipes require a certain amount of planning and prep. That said, it's also not one of those restaurant cookbooks that requires you to spend two days reducing a lobster stock to add a tablespoon to a sauce - it seems designed to bridge the gap between regular home-cooking cookbooks and fancy restaurant cookbooks.

              I agree with bushwickgirl's paraphrasing - it seems as if it will help make me a better cook if I go through it and really try to up my techniques. Though it I'm not sure it will get as much use as something like Bittman's How to Cook Everything...

              He does go a bit heavy on the salt, which seems to be common in restaurant-inspired dishes. I'm going to cut back a bit as I'm don't like highly salted food.

              Otherwise, it does look promising. I made the brined pork tenderloin a few nights ago and my wife called it a 'taste explosion'. I've got a nice free-run chicken in the fridge waiting for his roast chicken and root vegetable recipe for Monday night. I'll be reviewing these on my own recipe review website, but I can also pop back here and update on the chicken.

              1. I bought it a couple weeks ago. Sadly, right before I started dieting. The only thing I had a chance to make from it were the brownies, and they were wonderful.

                It's from scratch cooking, but not overly composed like The French Laundry recipes. That, of course, makes me want to try every recipe.

                He's flexible in ingredients, saying that many of the recipes are just platforms for your own interpretation of it. Add your own flavors, ingredients.

                Another thing I really liked was that he'd have a recipe for a roasted chicken, then the next recipe was for chicken pot pie or chicken and dumplings using the leftovers. I rarely see leftovers being utilized in cookbooks.

                I LOVE this cookbook. If 1200 calories per day stretched a little further, I'd be making many more of his recipes.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Azizeh

                  Ive done the Beef Stroganoff, which was unreal. Did the shortribs for this one, they were perfect, and made my own paparadelle for it. Amazing comfort food.

                  Also did the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, which is unreal...the amount of times the recipe has appeared on the net should speak something ot it taste. The brine is out of this world.

                  I love this cookbook......and when cooking from a cookbook such as this.....you CANNOT be worried about the calories or fat content. There are plenty of diet cookbooks tro choose from, this is not one of them.

                  1. re: RodVito

                    I definitely agree with you, which is why I haven't opened the cookbook since reading it cover to cover.

                    After Thanksgiving, I was thinking I will either be making the chicken and dumplings or the pot pie, but I'm going to use my leftover turkey. I'm definitely in the camp of "do it right or don't do it at all" so I haven't bothered trying to adapt his recipes to meet my low calorie needs.

                    That fried chicken looks amazing. You may have convinced me to save the turkey for my diet and make the chicken instead.

                2. I have been cooking a lot out of this book since receiving it a few weeks ago and have had nothing but great results. Some of the recipes do take longer than I would normally spend making a weeknight meal, but I will usually do a lot of the prep the night before.

                  The biggest hit so far has been the cauliflower soup which was simple to make and had a lot of flavor. The potato paves were also great, especially for a dinner party because most of the prep work is done ahead of time. They make for a great presentation, a nice change from regular scalloped potatoes.

                  Of all the other recipes I've made the only one which was a little blah was the tarragon chicken (forget what it is called in the book). It was easy to make but a little bland and no different than any other sauteed chicken.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: potato or yam

                    He made the potato paves on Martha Stewart's show this week. They looked delectable, but I had to chuckle when I realized that despite the oohing and aahing and deference paid to Mr. Keller, this is the sort of thing that would be right up Paula Deen's much-criticized and ridiculed alley. He should enjoy his time on a pedestal, but bring a ladder - it's a long way to fall.

                  2. I did make the chicken on Monday night and it was gorgeous to behold. It looked like something out of a cookbook. It tasted great too - very tender and juicy. The veggies with it were pretty good, but next time I do it I'll drop the leeks as they don't seem to roast that well. I'll also scoop out some of the fat partway through - some of my veggies basically cooked in an inch of chicken fat, oil and butter and ended up a bit soggy. I'm not fat phobic, but I like my roast vegetables to be roasted fairly dry.

                    The leftovers point is a good one. I'm making chicken pot pie tonight with the leftover chicken. It is a bit more fussy than other chicken pot pie recipes I've made (cooking vegetables in separate pots, reducing a bechamel sauce for 40 minutes...), but my sense is it will be a notch above the normal. I'll find out in a few hours.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Andrew_Cookbooker

                      Just finished dinner, and yes, it was nice. It was fussy, as I'd said - it ended up being ready about 40 minutes later than I'd planned, and there was some crazy shuffling between boiling vegetables and rolling out crust and making bechamel. But in the end I got a very nice pie. I do recommend it if you're a chicken pot pie person. But plan ahead - it's not something you whip up on a whim. Next time I'll make the pastry well in advance (even the day before maybe), precook the vegetables well in advance, then just worry about assembly when dinner time is getting near.

                    2. I'm trying to order this book for a Christmas gift but am finding it not in stock. For example, Amazon says "In stock on February 2, 2010".

                      Does anyone know an available (discount price) source for it?

                      9 Replies
                          1. re: Mick Ruthven

                            Jessica's Bisquit is cheaper than alibris and half:


                            Get it while it's hot.

                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                              >Jessica's Bisquit...<

                              Thanks! I just ordered one. Free shipping, too.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  >Yay! enjoy!<

                                  My sister's going to be doing the enjoying :-)

                                  1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                    Hopefully she'll have you over for dinner...

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      >Hopefully she'll have you over for dinner...<

                                      2,000 miles is a bit far to go for dinner...

                          2. I made the Split Pea Soup last night, and it was quite good. Loved the texture of it, but I would have added more ham, and possibly potatoes, as I like my SPS to be a bit 'meatier'. ....That said, Ive got a lot leftover, so I plan to add these additions tonight and pack for lunches.

                            The addition of the mint, creme fraiche, and the fresh spring peas was fantastic.

                            1. One of the easiest things is the book is corn with lime salt. I have never seen corn disappear from the table like that. (I cut it off the cob, but the seasoning was the same.) I was shocked at the flavor lime zest brings to corn - happily so - and I haven't been disappointed in anything else from the book either.
                              I am now wondering whether the csa box will manage just one more week of fresh corn...

                              1. I have this, but have not been inspired to cook from it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  I got it from the library, made the cornish game hens from it; they were ok; didn't really feel any need to keep the book out any longer though-- I was not really "inspired" by it.

                                2. For those of you who may not have seen it, here's a review of the book in the December 3 issue of the NYTimes book review.


                                  4 Replies
                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Interesting article. Thanks. And good to see that Gordon Ramsay's Cooking for Friends gets a positive review. I must revisit it soon.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        Okay, when you look at that review, click on the link for 25 more books and notice this book: COOKIN' WITH COOLIO: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price. By Coolio. " The rap star offers fast, healthy recipes in this mind-bending, read-out-loud (but not in front of the kids) cookbook. Sample: In the "Long, Strong Spinach Salad," he writes: "Popeye ain't got nothing on me. That's one of the reasons I took Olive Oyl and put her right in this recipe.""

                                        Wow, wow, wow. Coolio has written a cookbook recommended by the New York Times? Also, Alicia Silverstone has?


                                        I have to say, I'm curious about that Coolio book!


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Looked at the Coolio book on Amazon. I guess it's never bad if a book inspires people who otherwise not cook to do so, especially if the recipes are healthful as the NYT says, however, this is not the book for me. I'm sure there's an audience that finds this hilarious, and it's not that I don't have a sense of humor, but, well, it's a bit much for me.


                                      2. Got the book for Christmas and love it. Have cooked the Brined Pork Tenderloin and it was the best I've ever made, though did find it a bit salty, maybe reduce the brine to 3 hours from 4. Leek Bread Pudding was outstanding. Halved the recipe and worked like a charm, though I was a little heavy handed on the herbs and cheese. Can't wait to try the rest. Oh, and very accessible, though still time consuming.

                                        Esquire magazine had an article where two of their writers cooked for him, from this cookbook at their house. He was friendly, pitched in and only had positive things to say about the cooks. His main point was that he was just happy they were cooking, not to worry if they didn't put in exactly an eigth of a cup of something or had to substitute something else. Not as free flowing as Jamie Oliver's glug of this and handful of that, but knowing that you needn't be a stickler takes some pressure off cooking out of his book.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: shawntripp

                                          There is an interesting discussion on egullet about the brining in the Ad Hoc book and that several people had problems that the results were too salty. It looks like that the problem is not the time of brining but that unfortunately Keller emphasizes at the beginning of the book the importance of a scale in the kitchen but uses not weight for the salt for the brining recipe but volume measurement. Depending on which salt you are using one cup of salt can be very different in terms of weight. Keller uses Diamond Kosher salt and I don't know if you used the same salt or some other salt but there are different conversion tables available if you google.

                                          1. re: honkman

                                            Another reason for the "saltiness" may be due to the pork you are using. Most pork that people purchase has been enhanced by having brine added to it. Natural pork has not been enhanced, and won't be as salty. Good point above though - if you use table salt rather than kosher, you're using about twice as much by weight.

                                            1. re: Indy_Foodie

                                              It's not only a difference between kosher and table salt but also between different kosher salts. A lot of people are using Morton kosher salt whereas Keller uses Diamond Kosher salt. If you weight one cup of each salts the Morton Kosher salt weights much more.

                                            2. re: honkman

                                              There actually is an additional weight measurement for the brine recipes. 5oz.
                                              I go by weight and end up with around 1/2cup of salt as opposed to the 1cup called for.

                                          2. I have this book out from the library [just in case it won COTM] and am pleasantly surprised by the recipes. In fact, there are quite a few recipes that I would love to try. I do find the size of the book to be problematic. Giving up that much counterspace to the cookbook would be difficult, and there is a ton of fluff. Photos of Keller thinking about garlic, Keller pondering the chicken, Keller looking at his hands. Don't remember who said this on the nomination/voting thread, but I do wish that there was a version with less of the fluff and just the recipes and food photos.

                                            So though it is on my "i might buy it list", I haven't hit a buy button yet.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              I also took the book out from the library and ended up purchasing it. I can't wait until the weather cools down (unusually hot summer here) so I can try the short ribs.

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                A lot of fluff? No way. There's perhaps 5-10 'fluff' pages out of the 350. Most of the non-recipe/photo pages are useful cooking tips, guidelines, and stories about his restaurant.

                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                  I bought it at Costco; Amazon had it for about the same (low) price.

                                                  The size of the book is very awkward. I'm getting close to making the (fresh) pineapple upside down cake (I can't resist dotting it with M. Cherries, too.) I googled and got the recipe that way, easier than propping up the book.

                                                  1. re: walker

                                                    Look for one of these Book Holders. I have one, it is very usefull for large cookbooks on my small counter.


                                                    I love the size of the book, and the amount of "fluff" is negligable. As AndrewK512 says, its mostly cooking tips and usefull ingrediaent information.

                                                    The Shortribs are unreal. Simply the best shortribs I have ever tried, let alone made. And of course the Buttermilk Friend chicken is amazing. And the Cream Corn...the lime makes it sublime.

                                                2. I've made the Hamburgers from Ad Hoc. We loved them. Not only was the flavor very good, the texure was much better than commerical ground beef. Grinding your own meat does make a difference. Consensus in my family is that we should grind our own meat from now on. I think we're also going to up the fat for the burgers just a bit.

                                                  Also made the Lemon Vinaigrette, which is very light and made a nice dressing for a simple tossed salad

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                    So, what will you use to make the burgers? Different cuts of beef? Extra fat?

                                                    1. re: walker

                                                      I used exactly what was called for in the recipe as far as the cuts of meat go. All were pretty lean. I wil probably just start by adding a bit of extra fat. If that doens't work then I may trade the brisket out for a fattier cut of meat.

                                                      The other thing I really liked about the hamburger recipe was that TK had you rind the seasonings right in with the meat as part of the grinding process.

                                                    2. re: DiningDiva

                                                      I have been grinding my own meat for over a year now, using Alton Brown's combination of cuts as the basis of my ratio. I do think that I will try the cuts from Ad Hoc next time to compare. Finding brisket that hasn't isn't in a vacu-pack with brine can be difficult except around certain Jewish holidays however. Nice to hear a good report.

                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                        The brisket isn't hard for me as we have a couple of good local butchers here locally. That's the leanest cut, so if I end up trading out one cut for another, the brisket would most likely be the choice.

                                                        When I started ordering the various meats - in small quantities - they asked who's recipe I was using. I told them and they laughed and said their proprietary blend was better. After eating the burger, I laughed, mine *was* better.

                                                    3. I finally got around to making the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I did one layer of the pineapple, could not tell from recipe if I should have put on more -- was left with A LOT of leftover pineapple and it's such a chore to cut up a fresh one. I'd forgotten about some comments I'd read on someone's blog that it's better to put more of the "smear" -- I'll try that next time. I also got canned pineapple rings in juice that I'll try next time to make it easier. Wonder if it's better in a cast iron skillet?
                                                      I made it in the silicone cake pan he specified.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                        1. re: millygirl

                                                          It was only okay; my friend thought her mother's recipe, that she always made in cast iron skillet, was better. I made one with canned pineapple, a lot easier and I don't think it suffered by comparison with the fresh. Used more smear the 2nd time. Both times I used M. cherries to make it pretty. It was very pretty a top a cake stand. I just think I should try a different recipe next time.

                                                          Any ideas? My friend's mother died and she's trying to get hold of her recipes.

                                                      1. Christmas came a couple of days early and my husband surprised me with this book, and I've read almost the first 100 pages already. LOVE IT. I've already found some great techniques and tips, plus a ton of interesting recipes. We are low-carb and I'm thrilled that most of the recipes in the meat, poultry and fish sections are low-carb friendly - the vegetable recipes I've glanced at seem to be as well. The photos are great too. The best cookbook I've bought in ages!

                                                        1. A friend of mine owns this and swears by it. He brought it over last night and made the brownies from it. Wow. They were a contender for the best brownies I've ever had (and the best brownie batter I've ever licked off a spoon!). They were really chocolatey, dense and fudgey, with a softly crunchy crust -- just what a brownie should be. A dusting of powdered sugar was all that was needed. For brownie fans out there, these are a "must try".

                                                          As others have mentioned, the book is huge and heavy. Photos in it are gorgeous. It isn't really a book you want to have in the kitchen with you as you cook.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                            The brownies is what sold me on the book. Friend made them, I had one and instantly decided I must own a copy. That being said, I have not made one single thing from it as yet. Including the brownies.

                                                            Ah well, one day.

                                                          2. Has anyone made the Glazed Spareribs? I want to make them tomorrow, but I have a small weber grill and am worried I won't have sufficient space for cooking the ribs over indirect heat. Any thoughts?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jhan

                                                              We've made them (just once, though) and liked them a lot. We have the two burner Weber gas grill.


                                                            2. Has anyone made the pasta dough? It really seems like it wouldn't work, 14 egg yolks and 1 whole egg for 13 ounces of flour, plus olive oil, and milk.

                                                              1. Blueberry Cobbler

                                                                Blueberries are in in Massachusetts! I wanted to make a simple, but delicious dessert for tonight's guests. This recipe fit the bill.

                                                                This was simple to assemble. To begin, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda and set aside. Wash and pick over the blueberries and mix with some flour, sugar and lemon zest. In a bowl, you cream the sugar and butter until fluffy, and then add the sifted ingredients, egg and buttermilk, alternating between the three. The berry mixture is dumped into a pan, and then the dough is spooned over the top. The final step is to dust the dough with some cinnamon sugar. It is then baked at 350º degrees for about 40 minutes.

                                                                I served this with some vanilla ice cream and it was wonderful. The blueberries were the star of the show. It wasn't too sweet and the lack of salt was refreshing. This was the best cobbler I have ever had, but it was truly different than a Southern cobbler.

                                                                The recipe called for 8 cups of blueberries and claimed to serve 6 people. I made a quarter of this recipe and it served 5 easily. Clearly Keller likes a huge dessert portion.

                                                                Now that peaches will be coming into season, I will feel free to make this dessert with any in season fruit. It was truly delicious.