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Jan 1, 2012 02:35 AM

January Cookbook of the Month 2012: Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin

Welcome to our January 2012 Cookbook of the Month, ESSENTIAL PEPIN by Jacques Pepin.

Just been lurking up until now? We’d love to have you join us. This link explains how it all works:

This thread will be used for general discussion, menu planning, linking to recipes from the books available elsewhere on the web, and for discussing the sections at the front and back of the books covering general techniques, ingredients, sources, etc.

The threads linked below will be used to discuss recipes in the chapters listed directly below each link.

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Soups and Salads

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Pasta, Rice, Grains and Potatoes

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Eggs and Cheese

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Breads, Sandwiches and Pizzas

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Shellfish and Fish

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Poultry and Game

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Meat; Charcuterie and Offal

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Vegetables and Side Dishes

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Fruit Desserts; Frozen Desserts

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: Puddings, Sweet Souffles and Crepes; Cakes, Cookies and Candies; Tarts, Pies and Pastries


The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Companion thread for recipes from other Pepin works:

    1. First time participating in COTM- hurray! I made the tomato and zucchini gratin as a side to rack of lamb for new year's eve. What I loved about this as opposed to other more traditional gratins was the lack of butter, cheese or a ton of cheese. I used two tablespoons of parm instead of three. I really liked that he uses wheat toast for the bread crumbs. I also appreciate the flexibility of the dish in that you absolutely could add in things like yellow peppers, shallots, etc. and I'm sure it would be delicious.

      Can't wait to dive into this book and participate in COTM!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

        Welcome to you, Mr. Bigglesworth. There are several Greater Boston CHs who are habitual COTMers. That's fun because we can advise each other about where to find certain hard-to-find ingredients. But the best fun is the friendly exchange of ideas and techniques with all those who like to cook along with this fabulous group of home cooks.

        Just post your reports/reviews in the threads provided by the coordinator so all the reports of the same recipes appear in the same place. The links are in the OP. I love the sound of that gratin you mentioned. I haven't read all the recipes yet but that one is right up my alley.

      2. On January 28, PBS Create's Saturday marathon is Essential Pepin. That would be 12 episodes, repeated in 6-hr blocks from Saturday 6 a.m. until Sunday 6 a.m.

        1 Reply
        1. re: greygarious

          Thank you for the heads-up, Grey. Another lost week-end, I guess.

        2. I'm just dropping by here to say how helpful the DVD is. We did the Chicken Ballottine last night, and prepared ourselves by watching the segment on the DVD. It is great that there are chapters that you can search, and just watch the exact demonstration that you need. He explains things very clearly, and those explanations are also written out in the book. Very easy to follow, even for a somewhat challenging dish.

          1. I'm liking but not loving this book. Happy to have a little more time on my hands for cooking this weekend, I was disappointed at the (lack of) variety of recipes I found for the ingredients I had on hand. Don't get me wrong, I love Jacques who I find totally charming however, somehow I was expecting more from this book. I still recall the fun I had a year ago w the Grace Young COTM and perhaps its just that I'm not feeling the same way about this book. Nonetheless, most of what I've tried thus far has been good and, I'll continue cooking w the hope that the enthusiasm will build!!

            I also prepared 2 make-ahead dishes today as well (Lentil Barley Soup & Sweet & Spicy Curried Chicken) - loved the convenience and haven't sampled them yet so I'll review when we do so.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              I'm with you on this. I just got a copy from the library last week. So far, I haven't found anything I want to make. This tends to be a problem I have with really large books, so that is part of it. Also perhaps it just isn't the kind of food I want to eat right now. After the holidays, I think I'd rather have less traditional food. Whatever it is, I'm just not getting into this one.

              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                When I first received the book and was looking for recipes to flag, I found little that interested me. But I'll be leaving the country for two plus months in about six weeks and am in clean-out-the-fridge-and-freezer mode. Starting with an ingredient or two, I search EYB to find something appropriate. And I always have; at least so far. That has led me to recipes I'd never have even glanced at if I were just perusing the book. I've made six recipes so far (two more on tap for tonight) and I've given three or more stars (out of five) to four of the dishes.

                I'm beginning to think that his recipes are deceptively simple and fare better in the execution than in the reading. An extra touch of vinegar here, and unexpected ingredient there, and it puts a new and delicious spin on something I would have thought old hat.

                Anyway, I'm enjoying the results of this book far more than I expected to. Certainly enough to continue using it. Happily, I might add.

                1. re: JoanN

                  I'm really glad to read this report, because I bought the book, curled up with it, and while I loved his family stories about the food, didn't find anything I wanted to make, or that sounded better than what I'm already cooking.

                  1. re: mcf

                    I have to say that while it has been hard to get inspired by the book, I've really liked almost all of the recipes I have tried, mostly taking my cues from other posters--and not actively disliked any.

                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                      Thanks for more encouraging words... I love Pepin and I really wanted to love the book. Now I feel determined to take a stab at it.

                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                  I'm feeling sort of the same way. I've usually loved Pepin recipes, but I too have found few in this book that cry out to me. But reading Hounds' reports is helping me take a closer look, and I'm going to try a few more.