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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...

    ~TDQ

    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?

        ~TDQ

        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.

            ~TDQ

            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...

          http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.ca/2...

            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...

                  ~TDQ

                  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.

                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                    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).