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Hardcover Simply French: Patricia Wells Presents the Cuisine of Joel Robuchon Book

ISBN: 0688066429

ISBN13: 9780688066420

Simply French: Patricia Wells Presents the Cuisine of Joel Robuchon

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

How can a good cook become a great cook? It's all in the details. Becoming a good cook means learning principles that will last you a lifetime in the kitchen; with Simply French , you will never cook... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Literal Interpretation

Patricia Wells writes about Joel Robuchon as if he were a deity and, contrary to her usually populist use-what-works approach, urges the reader to follow the recipes to a tee: use the same ingredients, use the same techniques, follow a literal interpretation of the recipes, straight from the horse's mouth. I was richly rewarded for my effort, the interpretation of the classical dishes some of the best I have ever had. I made the leek and potato soup, a spring vegetable soup, a dish in which thin ribbons of zucchini are wrapped around shrimp and then sauteed in olive oil with chantarelle mushrooms, the baked tomatoes, salmon over a bed of buttery cabbage and the scallops baked in butter. The proportions make for an incredibly satisfying outcome, which is difficult to attain when winging it, like I normally do. There are ample techniques and culinary inclinations revealed in the book--Robuchon's general preference for white pepper over black (which he rarely uses), snipping parsley leaves with scissors rather than chopping with a knife (the main benefits are that leaves are not bruised as much and probably more important it is convenient to cut the herbs at the last second) and tips for big pot blanching. Also edifying were Robuchon's little philosophical musings on food, my favorite being that, cooking is like brewing tea leaves: there is a time when the tea has not steeped long enough, a brief moment when it has been just right and any more would be too much. My favorite thing about this book is that it elevates simple ingredients to a sublime level. One instance is the bed of cabbage for a salmon recipe. The cabbage is boiled for a few minutes, refreshed in cold water, dried, gently rewarmed with melted butter and a touch of cream. It tastes like a delicacy when prepared just right. All the recipes I have tried so far have tasted extremely harmonious. Though the book is not as glossy and large as the Thomas Keller tome Bouchon, which also deals with simple French food, the quality of the recipes is noticeably higher.

Classic Addition to the Understanding of Fine Food

This third book by food journalist and teacher, Patricia Wells is a presentation of the Cuisine of Joel Robuchon, who is, next to Paul Bocuse, the best known French chef alive today. As Bocuse appears to have retired, the book touts Robuchon as the best working chef in France.I am always suspicious of a book's quality when I can't find something new or remarkable to me in the first few pages. I had no such problems with this book. The depth of insight into fine cooking from Robuchon was easily equal to some of the best I have seen from Thomas Keller, Jeremiah Tower, and Richard Olney. Robuchon's contribution to the words `simple' and `French' together is an emphasis on a style of cooking which preserves and enhances the flavors of each individual ingredient rather than letting their properties be lost in a great gemish (that's German, not French) of indistinguishable flavors. Robuchon cites this as one of the great contributions of `nouvelle cuisine', although he claims that French cuisine has moved on from the excesses of this movement and now seems to be on more rational ground. He makes the remarkable observation that French cuisine before 1950 was intent on making food soft enough to satisfy a population with poor teeth. This is the reason for all the thick, smooth sauces and probably the reason why the braise is the most distinguishing method of French cooking. One may say that the braise is to French cuisine as stir frying is to Chinese cuisine.This book is filled with little techniques that seem so unusual at first encounter. Given the least amount of thought, the methods become so obvious one cannot see why they (I) did not think of them ourselves. One example is in the preparation of a simple pastry crust (Pate Brisee). The problem is that no matter how closely I follow Martha Stewart's or Wayne Harley Brachman's or Nick Malgieri's instructions, I always seem to get some shrinkage of crust when I blind bake it in a tart pan. Robuchon's solution, which I have seen nowhere else, is to begin the blind baking BEFORE trimming of the excess dough around the edge of the crust. By baking with the overhang still on, the shrinkage will draw in some of the overhang to compensate for shrinkage in the pan. On the other hand, the recipe for Pate Brisee in general is not nearly as fussy as many other techniques when it comes to quickly working with cold butter. I will have to try this on my next crust.There is no lack of truffles and foie gras in these recipes, although one of Patricia Wells' objectives in translating these recipes from the French restaurant kitchen to the American home is to remove as many of the hard to find and expensive ingredients as possible. My impression is that she has done a brilliant job of making the recipes accessible to the home cook. That is not to say that these recipes are easy. As Wells says on the first page of her essay on the cuisine of Robuchon, `good food is no accident', meaning that it takes work to achieve goo

If I could have only one cookbook

I'm a professional private chef with an international clientelle. This book is more than just a cookbook, it's a way of life. Its all about paying attention to details. The book is worth every penny just to read the interview with Patricia Wells; and Joel Robuchons' thoughts in the introduction. I've been re-reading just these two sections for over ten years now and am continuosly inspired.The photographs are amazing, even frameable. One in particular I have removed and used as a cover shot for my private notebook. Its of a bottle of wine, a piece of cheese and loaf of bread. But oh..... what wine, cheese and bread! I always look at that picture to remind me whats its all about. My copy has fallen apart long ago. The pages are now in clear sheet protectors and I travel with this book in this condition all over the world. I never leave home without it.

Destined to be a classic

I first encountered this book while working at a bookstore several years ago--a customer ordered it, and while it was waiting behind the counter, I thumbed through it. Though the various dishes look fairly daunting, I was impressed enough that I ordered it, too. What luck! What appears daunting is easily handled with Wells' guidance. I find her preference for simple yet elegant foods to be ideal, and she demystifies the Robuchon aura a little bit, bringing the impossible down to the level of the probable. Some of the items (like the "Lemon Lover's Fresh Lemon Tart") are HARD to make, but if you've got enough patience, you'll pull it off. I've had the cookbook for about three years, and have probably made about 40 of the recipies. They're incredible--every one is well-constructed, well-described, and yields amazing results. I can't recommend this one highly enough.

A Must for the Home Chef

This book taught me the importance of even the smallest of details in cooking. Most of the recipes have that "extra step" that a lot of people just don't bother to do because it seems trivial. But they do make a lot of difference. The recipes here are refined, even the more rustic ones are elegant enough for a nice formal dinner. And best of all, they are all easy to do!Ms. Wells did a wonderful job at translating Monsieur Robuchon's three star cuisine for home cooks. This book is a must.
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