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Cookbook of the Month April 2013: THE FRENCH LAUNDRY, BOUCHON and UNDER PRESSURE

Welcome to Thomas Keller month.

Please post your full-length reviews of all recipes from THE FRENCH LAUNDRY, BOUCHON and UNDER PRESSURE here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

I can't wait to see your reviews - happy cooking!

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  1. Bouchon contains one of my favorite, basic recipes and that's this "My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken" recipe http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    You can't go wrong with it, even if all you do is pat the bird dry, then salt and pepper it.

    I also really want to try the French toast recipe on page 302 of this book.

    I would love to try this gnocchi recipe but know I probably never will... http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...


    14 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      I made that gnocchi a couple years ago for a birthday. It was a bit of work but was absolutely worth it! Fresh herbs and good dijon make all the difference here. Delicious and most importantly, it makes a lot and freezes perfectly (that's even how they do it at the restaurant)

      What's nice is once it's made and frozen you can pull it out, saute it and be eating a great dinner in under 15 minutes.

      1. re: Klunco

        Oh, you're very persuasive... I might have a toddler-free-husband-free evening this week. Maybe a gnocchi-making session is in order?


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          You must! It's not "THAT" much work, and it's easy to split over two nights. Make gnocchi, poach and freeze night one and then the next, bam! and dinner is served in 15 minutes. You can do it!

          Okay now I'm going to have to make this this weekend.

          1. re: Klunco

            I'm feeling very encouraged! Thank you. Please report back after this weekend, especially if any timesaving or pitfall avoidance tips occur to you. I'm a gnocchi gnewbie.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Made Keller gnocchi recipe (in FL) a few times as well. Not complicated at all. But, as usual for Keller, you probably need to follow instructions closely to achieve desired results. Read the recipe a few times and plan accordingly before starting.

              He uses Idaho potatoes, IIRC. I would be hesitant to substitute, at least for the 1st time around. Potential timesaving would be to skip the whole ridging part, which is the most time-intensive portion of the endeavour. I think it only marginally helps the sauce cling better to the gnocchi, so might not be worth the extra time.

              I agree re: freezing them. It's quite a treat to come home from work and having those little pillows of heaven on the plate in 15 minutes.

              Edited: not the same gnocchi recipe! In this one, probably from Bouchon, he uses a Pâte à choux base, whereas in French Laundry, he uses a potato based one.

              1. re: sir_jiffy

                What variety of potatoes is grown in Idaho (do they really only grow one kind?)

                1. re: geekmom

                  Idaho potatoes refers to a very "flour-y" potato, as opposed to "waxy", they are preferrably baked, maybe fried. I think they originically came from Idaho, but I doubt they only come from there anymore, or that it is the only kind grown there.

                  1. re: sir_jiffy

                    It sounds like russets would do the job, then. Thanks for the clarification.

      2. re: The Dairy Queen

        Ha! I have had that same thought about the gnocchi so many times!

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I have been reading my way through the hilarious blog someone posted on another thread, where a decent but slightly inept home cook worked her way through the entire French Laundry Cookbook. Anyway, here's her funny write-up of her experience with the gnocchi recipe from TFLC, with photos in case you want to try your hand at it...


            1. re: GretchenS

              The comments [all three of them] are giggle-worthy as well.

            2. re: geekmom

              Thanks for posting this thread. I have really enjoyed reading her blog! It has actually inspired me to put 1 recipe from French Laundry on my list to make this month! No, not the pig's head :) But the Maui Pineapple desert is on the list if I can ever find some decent pineapple.

              1. re: greeneggsnham

                You're welcome! I have kept the blog open in a tab, and whenever I have a bit of time I have been reading a bit. I think I'll probably read through the entire thing eventually, because it's very entertaining and such a monumental effort.

                For me the peanut butter truffles & fruit jellies have caught my eye and I am really hoping to have a big enough chunk of time available before the end of this month to tackle those.

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Thanks! Happy spring day - almost 50 here right now!!!!!!

                1. re: sandylc

                  I don't know what tropical part of MSP you are in, but it's a mere 46 degrees where I am at the moment. :) Nevertheless, I have commenced scouring my garden beds for signs of rhubarb (how long does it take rhubarb to come up--any rhubarb recipes in any TK books? Must check!) and about to head out for a nice walk around the block.

                  ETA: here's a TK rhubarb recipe. Reminds me that I need to check the freezer for last year's unused before harvesting this year's! http://leitesculinaria.com/2299/recip...


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    That looks really yummy! My rhubarb has come up but it looks really sad - only two 1' stalks. I wonder if I need to move it. I am so good at killing plants.

                    1. re: geekmom

                      I know this is fodder for the Gardening board but you're here now so i say:

                      Geekmom... don't move your rhubarb! It likes to stay put for years... The plant probably needs some (read "a little") organic
                      fertilizer. Then compost the soil around it with organic compost.... don't get any in the center of the plant.

                        1. re: Gio

                          Excellent, thank you Gio & TDQ. I'll give it a little nourishment. Off to investigate the gardening board now. :-)

                          1. re: Gio

                            And don't let Mr. smtucker anywhere near your plants. He REMOVED them without a discussion.

                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I've been checking my rhubarb bed too, hoping to see some action, but it's still covered in snow!

                  2. I've made his Lemon Tart from Bouchon sereral times.



                    The only change I made is to use cocoa nibs in lieu of pine nuts. Another note, his sabayon seems more like a lemon curd to me. Aside from this, it's a wonderful recipe and always a crowd pleaser.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mike0989

                      It is the perfect thing for lemon lovers indeed. I found the sourness of the lemon perfectly balanced by the sugar.

                      So good, it doesnt need a crowd. Only a guiltless conscience, a fork and a day or two.

                      1. re: mike0989

                        Another +1 for the lemon tart. We loved it.

                        1. re: mike0989

                          Don't know how I missed a Lemon Tart. Clearly need to find a celebration so I can make this.

                          1. re: smtucker

                            The same recipe is in the French Laundry cookbook. Days that end in Y sound, to me, like sufficient reason for celebrating to make this tart.

                        2. From UNDER PRESSURE:

                          Fennel wedges, p.64 (or table p.273).

                          This goes toward my "stashing" effort for those days when time is short before dinner. And could hardly be simpler.

                          Take on or a couple of bulbs of fennel. Extra points if picked up on sale. Trim the tops, cut in wedges. One bulb per bag, with a teaspoon of EVOO.

                          I cook them sous-vide, but I'm sure you could manage with a ziploc bag with the air mostly squeezed out, In this case, presence of air in the bag doesnt matter at all.

                          40 minutes at 185F, and they're cooked.

                          I usually cook a couple of bulbs at once, then freeze the bags. Thaw (fridge, counter, waterbowl, microwave maybe), then put them cut-side down in a heated pan 2 minutes per side, they usually stay in nice wedges and they caramelize beautifully. Luscious and fennel-y enough without being over-anised.

                          My 8 month old loves it (once pureed of course!). My two year old, not as much, since it's neither bread, pasta or anything that can in some corner of his imagination be reasonably be called sausage :)

                          This "recipe" for me embodies one of Keller's cooking aspects that doesn't get mentionned often enough. He makes you think about what you are doing. Why and How. Relentlessy. And a little obsessively at times, I admit. But pretentiously, no way.

                          If you look at the full recipe, p.74, you will see that it is only one component of a magnificent plate of food, which is unlikely to be replicated by a large number of people, me included. But a lot of individual components are by themselves pretty simple to make and, almost without exceptions in my experience, worth the trouble over less "daunting" versions.

                          For rhubarb, try 142F for 15 minutes in the same manner :)

                          1. I made this quite awhile ago - not sure the rules on posting, but thought people would be interested:

                            Salad of Petite Summer Tomatoes with Vine-Ripe Tomato Sorbet - p 56 FRENCH LAUNDRY

                            This is a show stopper recipe (obviously - being out of French Laundry) and a heck of a lot of work. But the results are pretty spectacular.

                            First you make a tomato sorbet - which I highly recommend just trying. It's so different. Sweet, with a hint of orange and the tang of vinegar.

                            Keller has you make parmesan tuiles - but these aren't like any I've ever had before - a bit of herbs, a little garlic paste and...sugar? These are also really different and in any other application, I don't know. But as part of this salad, they work.

                            Then there is a tomato coulis, brioche croutons, basil oil and finally the (peeled) tomatoes themselves.

                            As I said, this is a lot of work. For me, the real key parts were the tomato sorbet and the garlic tuiles. To make it easier, I would probably cut the coulis and just use a splash of aged balsamic instead and then maybe cut the basil oil too (julienne a few basi leaves instead).

                            1. My Favo(u)rite Simple Roast Chicken - p xii (introduction), Bouchon

                              Recipe here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... (Thanks TDQ for the link).

                              Since I had made the roast chicken recipe from Ad Hoc At Home on Friday, I decided to follow up with this one on Sunday just to see how the two dishes compared.

                              This chicken really IS very simple, and it cooked very quickly at a high temperature, which makes it easy to get it on the table in under an hour when you're in a rush. I also note that the high oven temperature means that I could get a pan of Yorkshire puddings in there at the same time as the chicken, which would make a nice change from waiting till the chicken is done before putting the Yorkshires in, which always results in the other food getting cold while they finish baking.

                              The lack of any moisture or basting during the roasting process means the chicken skin comes out seriously crispy, with lovely crystals of kosher salt baked in to the skin. If you're a fan of crispy chicken skin, you'll definitely want to try this.

                              As to how this chicken compares to the one from AHAH: I think I prefer the AHAH version because it gives the meat slightly more flavour & has instructions to prepare a nice easy root vegetable side dish alongside the meat. But for busy days, I will definitely be using this recipe again.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: geekmom

                                My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken - p. xii

                                I'm off to a late start, but finally making a couple of Keller recipes. But because of a little mix-up on my part, I didn't follow this one exactly. I'm blaming it on the unwieldiness of the book, combined with a couple glasses of wine (the wine was not unwieldy).

                                I started off following this recipe, but when trussing the chicken, I turned to p. 192, where the recipe directs you for trussing instructions. Those are embedded in the recipe for Roast Chicken - yes, a different one - that is on that page. Thing is, after trussing the chicken, I forgot to turn back to the original recipe. Fortunately, the two recipes are very similar, and I also seasoned the bird according to the first recipe, I guess acting on memory from reading it through before cooking.

                                So where I deviated from recipe #1 was that I heated the skillet on high and added oil to it before putting the chicken in. This is recipe #2, but not #1. Also, I cooked for 40 minutes, checked the temp, and pulled from the oven. This is strange because I was using a larger chicken than called for (a bit over 3 lbs), and the original recipe (#1) has you roast for 50-60 minutes. Last I checked, my oven does not run particularly hot. Both recipes have you baste with the pan drippings and the fresh thyme leaves, so no deviation there. I ignored carving instructions, as I have my own way and like smaller portions.

                                So the verdict? It was a good roast chicken. Mr. MM and I agreed that it was not the best, nor by any means the worst, that I have made. It was cooked properly, not dry at all, seasoned well enough, and yes, definitely a nice crisp skin. The result is a roast chicken in the most basic sense, competent in all regards, but nothing puts it over the top. I'm going to blame my mistake in page-turning, and following the technique from the other recipe of putting oil in the pan, for the fact that this was very splattery (is that a word?) in the oven, which means I had a very greasy oven afterwards, and now have the problem of cleaning it. I do think the idea of heating the pan before putting the chicken in is a good one, but I don't think the added oil was necessary or desirable.

                                Served with roasted fingerling potatoes and a green salad with a vinaigrette. Letting the chicken juices run into the salad and its dressing is the best part of a roast chicken meal, to me.

                                1. re: geekmom

                                  My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken

                                  After my last roast chicken disaster, I was glad to be back in the world of high heat and small birds. I followed the recipe pretty closely - used a three pound bird, dried very well, trussed (not very well, I might add!) according to the directions on p. 192, rained on the salt (I used Maldon sea salt, about 1/2 tbsp which was plenty!), put it in the cold pan and then roasted at 450 for about an hour. I used the thyme and basted with the juices but skipped the butter and mustard. Well, I don't know what did the trick, but this chicken turned out perfect! It was juicy, flavorful, crispy-skinned - basically everything you would want a roast chicken to be. The only problem, if you can call it a problem, is that we ate almost everything, leaving very little in the way of leftovers.

                                2. Lentils Vinaigrette -Bouchon- p-10

                                  I selected this dish because I came across French green lentils for the first time ever (I love their gorgeous mottled green colouring) and couldn't wait to try them out. It also appeared to be a pretty painless recipe-no recipes within this one-so that was a winner right from the start.

                                  The lentils are cooked to tender with onion, leek, carrot, and a sachet consisting of a head (!) of garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and peppercorns. This medley creates a wonderful aroma...I almost wished I were making soup instead. The mix is poured to a shallow pan to cool quickly in its liquid with an addition of red wine vinegar and salt and then drained. A bit of finely diced red onion is stirred into the lentils, along with the vinaigrette-a very simple concoction of dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and olive oil-and topped with chives and parsley.

                                  Perhaps its because I hardly ever eat lentils in salad form, but I thought this was just delightful-nice and astringent, perfectly toothsome, with hits of crisp onion. The lentils had a deep flavour from the soak in its aromatic broth. I enjoyed this very much, and we all agreed that it could be made again.
                                  I stole into the kitchen late at night to polish off the contents, and found that I needed to slightly adjust the seasonings. Just a touch of additional vinegar and pepper did the trick, so if making in advance I would be prepared to tweak a bit.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                    Oh that looks like a nice version of what of my favorite dishes of all time. Beautiful picture.

                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                      This is a great photo, Allegra_K! The salad looks quite similar to the french lentil salad from Bistro Cooking at Home, which is really lovely. It seems like this one is not too much more work, so I'll definitely give it a shot now that you've highlighted it. Thanks!

                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                        Lentils Vinaigrette -Bouchon - page 10

                                        Thanks to Allegra for highlighting this one. Simple, healthy, delicious-- what's not to love? As stated above, no recipe within a recipe and no onerous prep. The finished dish had some European sophistication but completely unpretentious. I served this with simply pan seared salmon, roasted mushrooms and a big salad. I have always thought salmon and lentils are a good pairing and this was no exception. I will say all 3 of my kids turned up their noses at it. That's okay, more for the adults! I have leftovers packed up for lunch.

                                      2. Roasted Beet Salad, Bouchon, p. 7
                                        Recipe available here: http://www.krystaslifeinfood.com/2010...

                                        I chose to make this very simple beet salad because it sounded easy. It was! And I'm happy to report that it was also very good. Despite the simplicity of the recipe though, I still failed to properly follow instructions. Oh, well.

                                        To start, beets are tossed with olive oil, water, salt and pepper, sealed in a foil packet, and roasted for 11/2 hours at 375 until tender. When cool, the beets are peeled. At this point, you cut them into quarters, then 1/4 inch slices, then season with more salt and pepper, 2 Tbsp orange juice, and 1tbsp each red wine vinegar or olive oil. At this point you are to set the beets aside in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes or up to a day.

                                        Well, I forgot to follow TK's roasting instructions or to pay attention to the timing. Instead I roasted and peeled the beets over the weekend per my usual method, then popped them into the fridge to await preparation of the salad later in the week. Last night, when I was ready to make the salad, I pulled the beets out of the fridge and sliced and tossed them with the dressing. I then went directly to the next step, which involved adding to the marinated beets: 1/8 cup of thinly sliced red onion (eek! I was out of red onion and shallots and so subbed scallion bottoms) and 1 tbsp each finely chopped chives and tarragon. All marinated together while I pulled the rest of dinner together. I checked the seasoning shortly before serving and added a bit more salt.

                                        The verdict: this is a great beet salad! I'm not usually a huge fan of orange-flavored things (for me, the flavor is often overwhelming) but in this case the orange flavor subtly enhanced the natural sweetness of the beets, especially combined with the tarragon, and we enjoyed this salad very much. (Though it must be said, this salad was not as wildly surprising and delicious as the yogurt beet salad from Jerusalem, which I have been requested to make again.) In any event, a keeper.

                                        1. Thomas Keller’s Insanely Delicious Quiche Lorraine

                                          I do not own this book, but made this recipe using this online recipe: http://remcooks.com/2012/10/20/thomas...

                                          For some reason, I believed that this quiche recipe was in one of the books that I own so I ordered the quiche mold from Michael Ruhlman. Pan in hand, I had to make this.

                                          This quiche is a three-day process. Really. Day 1 you make the onion confit and the pie dough. Day 2 you roll out and bake the dough, and then bake the quiche. Only on Day 3 do you actually get to taste quiche. Was it worth this effort? I think it very well might be!

                                          I had caramelized onions in the freezer which I subbed for the onion confit. I had some really high-quality smoked ham which I subbed for the bacon. I was not able to fit all the milk-cream-egg mixture into the mold. In fact, I only managed to fit about 3 cups of milk-cream and four eggs. The rest will be used for some individual quiches.

                                          Not sure I will spend three days every time the family wants some quiche, but when I remember to plan, this preparation will be calling me.