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Tag Archives: French cooking

The great coc au vin controversy

Several seasons ago, Top Chef contestant, Casey Thompson, was undone by her take on coq au vin during an elimination challenge at The French Institute. Well, she wasn’t undone per se because it didn’t send her and her knives packing, but it cost her a win, even though it was possibly the best dish.

What kept her from being Top  Dog that day?

She called the braised chicken dish coq au vin. The result was coq au vin lite, if you will. Some will say, “How can you expect to cheat a dish that is a national signature dish in front of judges who represent the leading cooking school in the US of that country”?

Well, perhaps we should back up and talk about the dish and the controversy.

What is coq au vin and how in the hell do you pronounce it?

It’s pronounced (roughly) cocoa van. Easy enough. So it means chicken with wine, right?

Well, sorta.

Technically, it’s cock with wine (OK, get your sniggering out of the way). The older the cock the better (OK, get off the floor). It’s a dish that’s thickened with the blood of the cock or some other animal like a duck or goose or even pig, since you usually won’t get enough blood out of a wizened old bird to thicken the sauce by itself.

The key components to the classic version of this dish are rooster, blood and time…three things that are precious commodities or outright unobtainables on Top Chef. I mean, when was the last time that you saw rooster at your local Whole Foods?

Why rooster, you might ask? Why would you even want to bother with an old wrinkly sinewey tough bird in the first place?  Why, it’s the sinew and the “toughness”, silly. Sinew is connective tissues made from collagin and elastin and is dissolved through prolonged exposure to moist heat. Muscles which have been overworked are also tough, but they have enhanced flavor components not present in young, unworked muscles. They too benefit from a long braise and the combination of the melting of the connective tissues and the tenderizing of the muscle meat adds to the rich flavor of coq au vin.

All of this begs the question – why rooster? They don’t have much usable yield and French farmers running household farms weren’t probably awash in roosters. In fact, generally, really small operations usually only have one or a small handful, which get exhausted from all of the “pollinating” after about 3 years. You usually only need one rooster for a dozen or less hens. So, not only can’t you fill a pot with chicken meat from the roosters on hand, it’s a time-consuming dish. My theory is pretty simple – you never threw out anything that could be eaten. You never knew when the next revolution or world war was around the corner.  The rooster had to go eventually, so the French found a way to utilize these tough old birds and, in doing so, they created a classic dish.

This dish is best braised for hours and hours. You use aromatics like celery, onions, garlic, and bouquet garni, utilize lardons (thickly cut bacon),  tomatoes and mushroom (if desired) and serve with a starch like boiled potatoes or pasta (traditionally, the French also serve it with green beans). Thing is, the French realize that you just don’t run into roosters every day unless you’re a farmer or happen to live near one. So, even the French have adapted the dish to modern times.  Larousse Gastronomique even mentions that the dish is often made with regular chickens these days and, in fact, doesn’t even mention roosters in the recipe that it provides. Neither did Julia Child back in the day. Even the guy who decries the homogenization of regional cuisines, Anthony Bourdain doesn’t even mention roosters in his recipe and only adds an addendum at the end of the recipe about “being adventurous” and adding blood instead of using flour as a thickening agent. 

If you search the internet for coq au vin recipes, it’s almost impossible to even find one that has roosters in the recipe and demands blood as a thickening agent.

So, why all of the fuss on Top Chef?

Ironically, most of the agitating about the authenticity of the dish came from Italian heritage’d Tom Collichio. In fact,  IIRC  Sirio Maccioni loved the dish, as did the judges from the school itself. But leave it to Collichio to throw the book at Ms. Thompson because it wasn’t really a coq au vin. C’mon dude. She didn’t try to call a Pop Tart a bruschetta. He spent a lot of time trying to convince other judges that she had fired a torpedo into French cuisine.

So Casey, here’s your redemption, despite your recent ceremonial throwing-under-the-bus of your fellow Top Chef runner-up Carla, which I have to say, showed some cat-like qualities. At least you performed a mea culpa…

I would have offered an “authentic” recipe, but, believe it or not, I couldn’t find one. Not even in any of my “French” cookbooks – not even purist Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. That should tell you that Thompson was probably cheated out of a win, since Collichio’s objection was seemingly what gave competitor Hung the win. It probably didn’t make any difference in the end, but still… 

If you actually want to make the real thing, I would suggest that you take a reasonable-sounding recipe and substitute rooster for chicken. Have your butcher find you some pig’s blood and reserve about a half a cup of it. Make sure that if flour or a roux is used to thicken the sauce, ignore that part of it. Make sure that you slow braise the rooster for a long time over low heat (I’d give it at least 6 hours). As you get to the end of the process, instead of adding thickener, slowly add a little blood and incorporate it, adding just enough to start the thickening process. Add a little more and keep repeating until you get the consistency that you are looking for. If you add the blood too quickly, it will cause the sauce to seize and harden. 

Here’s what it might end up looking like:

Famed chef Thomas Keller eats some of the best chicken wings anywhere in Nashville

From The Tennessean:

Chef Thomas Keller braves the heat at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack

By Jennifer Justus • THE TENNESSEAN • March 31, 2010

The meticulous French-style chef, one of the most respected in the nation, has intense dark eyes that could sear a sloppy line cook faster than a filet in a hot pan.

But sitting across from him at the lunch table, I watched as a single tear rolled down his cheek.

He dabbed it with a paper napkin.

And then he reached for another bite of hot chicken.

I didn’t mean to make him cry. Really. But I admit that when I heard the famous chef — he of the James Beard accolades, the Michelin stars and the collection of posh restaurants from Napa to New York — was headed to Nashville for a book-signing, I knew Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack was where I wanted to take him.

No question, fried chicken is hot right now. Just last week, movie star Gwyneth Paltrow gushed about eating fried chicken in Nashville on her blog, and glossy national food magazines have devoted photo-laden spreads to the humble bird.

But in Nashville, chicken has always been hot. Spicy hot, that is — the kind of heat that comes with a Scoville rating. So I was keen to hear what Chef Keller thought about our version. I also hoped to hear more about his Buttermilk Fried Chicken, a recipe that has its own cult following, and the emotional significance of chicken, which he talks about in his latest book, Ad Hoc at Home (Artisan, Nov. 2009, $50). Chicken, after all, is the last meal he ever prepared for his father, and the first recipe in the book.

Read the rest of the article here:

This article about the famed chef-owner of The French Laundry and Per Se is really a good read and has a nice ending, so I recommend that everyone read it.

Top Chef Las Vegas – episode 4

I’ll be typing this in stages, as I watch it. So, it’s in chronological order, as it happens, so to speak (thanks to the pause capabilities of DVR).

The girl contingent is shrinking and the girls are worried. No worries, the law of averages is catching up although it might not happen this week  (Mike, I’m looking at you).

Collichio doesn’t feel that Daniel Boulud needs an introduction, so naturally he goes on to list his CV.

Our little Marcel Marceau gets a gleam in his eye when snails are mentioned. Perhaps he’s working out a new snail routine involving motor oil and a canteen taped to his back.

Daniel Boulud – “And I want to taste something that I’ve never tasted before”. I’m sure you will.

Boulud is a bit scary in a James Bond, mongoose sort of way. I wouldn’t want to be eyed by him before a Quickfire.

OK, pause for the cause – this looks like a 4 brandy in the middle of the day sort of show…be back shortly…

Oh dear – someone’s going home from the QF – knees buckle, heads bob, jaws drop, hearts race.  Sounds like love to me.

OK cocky Frenchman – remember what Boulud said – he wants to taste something different, not snails swimming in butter like you made when you were 15. At least, that’s what it looks like you’re plating. Maybe I’m wrong – we’ll see when I get back into the episode.

Poor little Nazi Girl. They didn’t serve snails to the concentration camp guards. What kind of 1000 year Reich are we running here?

I have to wonder – did anyone think of doing a snail tempura? That would have been my first thought. Within 5 minutes, you’d know whether snails would hold up under a tempura batter. I’d think they would. After all, they are roughly the same shape and size as button mushrooms, although they are more tender, of course. And who doesn’t love fried mushrooms?

OK, back to cheftestants scrambling around each other in panic…

OK, back to the computer…

The dominatrix pulls a yuzu out of her hat.

Frenchy actually did a little extra, but it wasn’t enough to clear Daniel’s Maginot Line.

Southern cooking rules! Jam, baby, jam!

Well, looks like at least one distaff chef is biting the dust. But WAIT! cook-off time! Oh, one distaff chef is still going home. Jesse is the obvious choice, but who knows? It won’t be the gay one that looks like Steve Forbert though, unless she implodes completely.

OK, brandy in hand I return…

And I was right. Jesse bites the dust.  I’m surprised that she has the constitution to work in a kitchen.There’s no crying in cooking (except when cutting onions, I suppose).

Nice perk for the winner of the QF – dining with a bunch of snotty French chefs with over a dozen Michelin stars amongst them. Dining with the chef of the century? How very 20th century.

Frenchy sees this as a slam dunk. Always dangerous on this show.

Trout with bearnaise? Maybe I’m wrong, but that doesn’t seem like a natural pairing. Delicate trout with a tarted-up hollandaise? I dunno. Yes, bearnaise with steaky fish like swordfish or salmon – that I can see. Bearnaise with darker fish like mahi-mahi, that I can see. Trout with bearnaise? Not so much.  I still wonder about the “natural pairing” thing.

I note that they’re doing “young chicken”. I guess there won’t be any nitpicking of the dish as they did in a previous season with Casey and her “coq au vin” – I’m looking at you Tom. Of course, if someone uses a cock, they’re screwed. But where you find a cock in Las Vegas? Oh wait…let me rephrase that…

OK…back to the show and the brandy…


Oh Mike, you’ve semi-redeemed your braggadocio by deconstructing the bearnaise. That’s just twisty enough to create a positive impression as long as you execute it.

Uh oh, the funny music with Robin’s team. Garbanzo bean flour. Personally, I say why not? This could be the classic case of editing fairies’ misdirection. Time will tell, I suppose. It doesn’t help that Caribbean dude is a bit over-confident in his ability to cook chicke…I mean frog’s legs.

More cooking, more cooking. More exposition fairies explaining sauces to ‘mericans. Robin, turns out, is a motor mouth while Ron suffers under the weight of words. Things aren’t really looking that great for Frenchy and tattoo’ed lady (apologies to Rory Gallagher). 

Chateaubriand au poive?  Hmmm, not sure if that’s going to impress anyone, especially if it’s rare as a baby’s bottom. But you still have time. In the words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic”! Hopefully, you can turn it into something special. But I have my doubts.

OK, I’m into my second brandy now (don’t worry, I’m off today). Time to return to the dinner portion of our entertainment.

Is that a yarmulke or a bald spot on our lucky cheftestant diner’s head? Oh, it’s a bald spot.

Uh oh, Gail got the end piece. I’m guessing that a chef is going to get the shaft.

The deconstructed bearnaise looks like a hit of windowpane with a couple of hits of orange sunshine dyed black on top. Turns out that it’s a mind-blower.

C’mon guys – no other season could have produced this food for these guests at this stage of the competition? I think not. But, what do I know? I’m not there season after season.

Awwww, Frenchy is disappointed. But I don’t think he has to worry about any of his team actually going home. But I’ve been wrong before…

OK, back to Judge’s Table®

You know, I’m waiting for the twist when they call the losers first. I’m surprised that they haven’t thought of that.

Praise praise praise. Nothing to see here folks. Please move along.

Oh SNAP! I wonder what the French expression for “throwing someone under the bus” is. I’m really surprised that Ashley showed the kind of class that she did (unless it was removed by editing). I really hope that our mime goes home for that, although it’s looking like we’re going to lose Puerto Rico at this point. A lying mime, while a contradiction in terms, is a good source of conflict in the future, so he’s probably going to end up staying. Now I know how Charles De Gaulle felt about General Pétain.

If Ashley goes home, then it’s “Katie bar the door’. But I don’t see that as very likely at this point. You send the guy who’s supposed to know about French cooking home when he doesn’t perform.

OK, time for the big finish. Better have another brandy.

Uh oh – the Ashley thing is being misinterpreted by our gang of 3. This is part of the game though – they’re not privy to “the facts”. It’s up to Ashley to defend herself. Still, I’m pretty sure that PR is on the way out. But, as I’ve said, I’ve been wrong before.

As I mentioned before, cooking Chateaubriand au poive isn’t the most challenging thing to do and to screw up that dish could be fatal and Tom confirmed that. Had they done something a little differently and thought outside the box, like doing a lightly seared piece of meat and doing a carpaccio au poirve, they might have fared better. It certainly would have been a lot easier. You only sear the meat quickly, you freeze it and then you slice it on site with a meat slicer like the type that they use at Arby’s (the type that took Rahm Emmmanuel’s finger. However, you don’t serve the finger if that happens to you as well.

OK, brandy break.

Time for the big reveal.

No great exposition, no big scolding. and yes, it’s Hector. A completely uncontroversial choice. I’m sure that some will make it so because of the Mattin thing, but his big sin was lying at Judge’s Table.

So big fella, you join Jesse in the recycle bin. Please take your “long knife” and go.

Just so you guys know, I rarely watch the teaser clips, either within an episode or for the upcoming episode. So I have no idea about what’s going to happen next week.

Are you ready for some football? A Thursday Night party?

Jesse Sandlin1


The classic kitchen brigade pt. 2

As promised, here’s a list of the staff that Escoffier imagined for his brigade de cuisine.

Chef du cuisine – Head honcho. Big cheese. Develops the menu, is responsible for all kitchen operations and sets the tone and tempo of the restaurant. Basically what we now call Executive Chef.

Sous-chef (under chef or second chef) – Does the bidding of the chef. Is the chef when the chef is away. Helps the chef with menu development, scheduling, purchasing and any of other responsibilities of running the kitchen. Is often the expediter as well.

Chefs de partie (station chefs) – roughly equivalent to our current line cooks. In a large institutional kitchen like the hotel operations that Escoffier ran, specialization would be key, hence the incredible number of possible “stations”. Now, many of these “stations” are lumped together in the normal restaurant, and even large hotel operations don’t usually have this level of specialization. We also now seem to make the distinction, rightly or wrongly, of calling them “line cooks” instead of “station chefs”. Without further ado, here are the positions:

Saucier (sauté station chef) – This is the guy or gal who you see sweating over the stove with multiple saute pans making your pasta, your pan-fried meats, etc. This is often the most demanding job on the line because of the quantity and variety of dishes that the sauté person encounters. Not only does the sauté often times build sauces right in the pan, he or she also has to time dishes to come out with the rest of the line and also has to finish many dishes in the oven. That’s a lot of logistics to keep track of and a lot of skill involved.

Poissonier (fish station chef) – One of those positions that you don’t see these days. Has been absorbed into other positions.

Grillardin (grill station chef) – This position is usually combined with the rotisseur (roast station chef). This is your “broilerman” (for steakhouse mavens) or your “grill cook” for burger places. This position is key for obvious reasons – if the meat isn’t cooked properly, chaos occurs. Food costs skyrockets, guests can’t eat in a timely fashion, waiters crumble – basically civilization as we know it deteriorates into a disaster movie.

Friturier (fry station chef) – This position is sometimes called “the man in the middle”. In most “standard kitchens” the sauté chef will be on one side, the “fry cook” will be in the middle and the broiler cook will flank him. The fry cook does more than just fry stuff though. He or she might pick up tasks from either end. There are certain dishes that he or she will be responsible for. It’s an anchoring-type position because he or she could be considered a floater in a way. They might assist either end if they are getting pounded.

Potager (soup station chef) –This task is usually handled by other positions. The chef might take it as a personal project, dish it off to the sous chef, or assign various personnel to the task. He or she might very well have a soup specialist but that will be only part of their responsibilities.  Usually, it would be the responsibility of a dedicated prep person or persons, cooks who do a lot of the basic tasks that have to be done – cutting veggies and potatoes, preparing stocks and sauces needed en massé, cutting meat, etc.

Legumier (vegetable station chef) – once again, not really used in the modern kitchen. this would be handled by prep cooks and various line cooks depending on the dish.

Entremetier (for lack of a better word, intermezzo or entree chef)– In Escoffier’s time, this was often a combination of the previous two positions. they handled things served after the roast course (veggies, fruits or sweet items like sorbets).

Boucher (butcher). Pretty obvious here.

Cuisinier (cook) – sort of a catch-all term. Might have a specific dish to prepare, or might be a utility person.

Garde-manger (pantry chef) – in charge of the “cold line”, i.e. “the pantry”. The pantry is where you get the salads, cold appetizers, pâtés, cold cuts (charcuterie), terrines, hors d’oeuver, and in some kitchens is in charge of breakfast. In most kitchens, you have line cooks that are in charge of setting up the cold line. Garde-manger per se is a vanishing position. This is usually just a part of the supervisory area of the chef and sous chef. But it’s still an important position in many large hotel operations. By the way, it’s pronounced  “guard monzhay”, not “guard manager”.

Garçon de cuisine (prep cook). Pretty self-explanatory. Does all of the grunt (yet important) work. Takes big things and makes them small. Makes things in quantity. Usually is off to themselves doing their thing.

Tourant – floater. Works where needed. There are also demi-chefs (assistants or literally “little chefs) and commis (no, not communists, but apprentices).

And then we come to the baked section. I’m going to throw them all into one description starting with the main person:

Patissier (pastry chef).The big dog of desserts, the patsy of pastry, the baron of baked goods. We still have this position in some restaurants and in every decent sized hotel operation. This is the chef responsible for all baked goods. On the organizational chart, he or she is basically equal to the sous chef and they answer to the chef. In modern operations, they usually handle all of the baking and they might have an assistant. In Escoffier’s system, it was broken down this way – boulanger (bread baker), confiseur (candies and petit fours), glacier (chilled and frozen desserts) anddecorateur (special cakes, showpieces, cake decoration, etc.).

Finally we come to the two most important positions in the kitchen – plongeur (dishwasher) and marmiton (pot and pan washer). These positions are the grease on which the kitchen runs. Without them, everything fails.

There are also two auxiliary positions that, even in Escoffier’s day, weren’t that common and were usually performed by others. They are aboyeur (expediter) and communard (preparer of the staff or family meal).

And now you know the basis for our modern kitchen, thanks to Escoffier, who codified the design of the modern kitchen and who is responsible for the traditional “hot and cold line” arrangement of most modern kitchens.

modern kitchen

Cookbook of the day – The Paris Cookbook


The Paris Cookbook

by Patricia Wells

  • Publisher William Morrow Cookbooks (October 24, 2001)
  • ISBN 10: 0060184698
  • ISBN 13: 978-0060184698
  • Famed food author Patricia Wells has written a love letter to Parisian life. Having lived in France since 1980, she’s at home in the glittering night life of Paris or the slow calm of her home in Provence, which she has also written about in her book (to be reviewed by me in a future post), The Provence Cookbook. She wrote about bistros long before it was discovered by a voracious American culinary scene.

    She certainly doesn’t give bistros short shrift in this book, but she also discusses the 25! Michelin starred chef Joël Robuchon, featuring several of his recipes including the famedMacaroni aux Truffles Joël Robuchon, variations of which have become quite fashionable here in the States.  She pulls a recipe from Guy Savoy’s brasserie, Cap Vernet (Salade à la Maraîchère Cap Vernet,a simple mixed green viniagrette-infused salad with thinly shaved ParmegianoReggiano). And she creates dishes inspired by market vendors and old clipped French magazine recipes.

    Many famous and obscure Parisian citizens inside the culinary orbit are name-checked and you’ll catch a measure of the passion that Wells feels for Paris and French cuisine. 

    It’s an interesting read and well worth adding to your cooking library.


    Cookbook of the day – La Methode

    La Methode

    La Methode

    by Jacques Pépin

    Publisher Pocket (September 15, 1984)  

    ISBN 10: 0671504959

    ISBN 13: 978-0671504953

    Recently, we discussed Pépin’s companion to this volume, La Technique. This is the “continuation” of that first volume. There really isn’t much distinction between the two volumes – it’s not like the first only talks about “techniques” and this one talks about “methods” (as if there’s a huge difference between the two terms).  He basically wanted to cover topics that he hadn’t really covered in the first volume, so he starts with something ignored in the first volume – sharpening a knife.

    He then covers such diverse kitchen skills as butterflying shrimp, straining and skimming sauces, boning a saddle of lamb, making various chocolate constructions such as boxes, leaves and bark, and he also covers such esoteric subjects as peeling and glazing chestnuts, carving  “cucumber turtles” and “mushroom fish”, and preparing marrow.

    Once again, there are copious black and white photos that illustrate each step in the various processes and there are plenty of recipes to keep any recipe hound busy for months.

    You can now buy both volumes bound as one, but the originals can still be found in separate volumes for a reasonable cost.

    Pépin is a treasure who we should celebrate here in the US for being someone who, along with Julia Child and Paul Bocuse, made it fashionable to embrace French cuisine. And this enabled America to look past its shores and also to its immigrant population as culinary inspirations which have enriched our own cuisine.


    Cookbook of the Day – La Technique


    La Technique

    by Jacques Pepin

    Publisher Times Books (December 12, 1976)

    ISBN 10: 0812906101

    ISBN 13: 978-0812906103

    This is a companion volume to Pepin’s La Methode, which I will review in a future installment of Cookbook of the Day.  Both volumes can now be purchased in one volume, but I’ll discuss each one separately.

    This was the first of the two volumes and it’s exactly as the title describes – all about technique. It starts with holding the knife and finishes with making Cheveaux d’Ange (angel hair). No, angel hair doesn’t refer to pasta, but rather sugar gossamer “angel’s hair” used to decorate elaborate desserts.

    There are recipes scattered throughout but only recipes that require use of a technique to accomplish. Filled with step-by-step matter-of-fact black and white photographs, Pepin takes you through the basics of breaking down a chicken, shucking clams and oysters, making terrines, poaching eggs and even folding napkins.

    This was one of the first really practical volumes on technique that clearly showed the American chef step-by-step how to replicate the results of the top chefs of the world. It, along with its sister volume, is really a foundation book for any kitchen library. You should pick up the new combined edition if possible, but you can also find the two books in both hardback and paperback in selected used book stores. My copy of La Technique is hardback, while my copy of La Methode is in paperback. I don’t mind at all. 

    angel hair A confetti version of  Cheveaux d’Ange  – imagine that it’s made of sugar and sits atop some elaborately constructed gateaux.

    Cookbook of the day – The Art of Creole Cooking (1962)

    Creole Cooking

    The Art of Creole Cooking

    by William I. Kaufman and sister Mary Ursula Cooper, O.P.

  • Publisher Kessinger Publishing, LLC (September 12, 2007)
  • ISBN 10: 0548387699
  • ISBN 13: 978-0548387696
  • The cover subtitle of this book is accurate: A delicious composite of familiar and not-so-familiar Creole recipes documented with pertinent historical comments.

    I have the original edition of this, complete with the original dustcover pictured above. Long out of print, it has been republished by the above publisher in 2007, so it is once again available to the discerning foodie. Currently, there’s at least one copy of the book with original dustcover available for $40, but there are several available without dustcover at eBay for far less. If you are happy with a paperback reprint, the book will set you back around $20.

    Before we get into the book itself, let’s make clear that Creole cooking isn’t the same as Cajun cooking, even though it shares many characteristics, including reliance on the integral brown roux, used as a foundation ingredient in many dishes in both cuisines. However, Creole cooking integrates Spanish and American Indian flourishes in addition to French and Black influences.

    Basically, Cajuns were more isolated, as you might expect from a group of Acadian ex-pats from Canada. They stuck together and stayed more of a closed culture, and their cuisine generally reflects that. Creoles tended to employ more diverse influences. You might make a broad sweeping generalization (always dangerous, of course) that Cajuns were more rural and Creoles more urban. People who are in the know will tell you that most cuisine that you find in New Orleans proper is actually mostly Creole, rather than Cajun. Creole is a more “refined” cuisine, while Cajun is more “comfort food” (refined not intended to mean that it’s “better”). This makes Creole a better cuisine for restaurant service with its refined sauces and plate presentation possibilities. Cajun is more what you would find at family gatherings, as it’s very “pot-centric” and family-style. Creole also has a Caribbean influence because many Creoles have a Haitian heritage. 

    Tom Fitzmorris, famed New Orleans food critic, has a very sensible primer on the difference between the two, and it’s worth a read:

    Now that we’ve dispensed with this, what about the book? The most famous Creole dish is Shrimp Creole. But Creole cuisine is far more than that, which you will discover when you browse this book. There are many French-based recipes such as Crepes Suzette and Delicieux Poulet au Vin (Delightful Chicken with Wine), made with sherry rather than the red wine that you would expect from a French chicken dish with vin in the title. There is Oyster Stuffing, Braised Pigeons or Doves, Turtle Soup, Porcupines (a tasty little baked confection made from ground pecans, dates, shredded coconut, brown sugar and eggs) and Crackling Corn Bread (which reflects the Black culinary influence).

    Every chapter has specific information about the Creole slant on the following recipes and it’s full of practical information that will help you navigate the cuisine.

    I highly recommend this volume, whether you try to seek out an original copy or simply buy the current reprint.

    Creole boudin

    Creole Boudin (Creole Sausage)

    Cookbook of the day – The New Professional Chef


    The New Professional Chef

    by The Culinary Institute of America


  • Publisher:Van Nostrand Reinhold; 6 Sub edition (November 7, 1995)  
  • ISBN-10: 0471286796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471286790

    This is the basic textbook of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). It’s big and expensive. I don’t recommend buying it new, but you can sometimes find it at used bookstores for $20 – $30.

    Obviously, it has a lot of basic information about things that a chef needs to know about nutrition, safety concerns, kitchen tools, food prep and food ingredients. However, I think that some of the other books that I’ve recommended that focus on specific things like ingredients, cooking techniques for specific cuisines, etc. is money better spent.

    I’m recommending this book to those who have the occasional need to produce food for large gatherings. if you occasionally throw large dinner parties, patio barbecues for family and friends, or do the occasional catering gig, this book is invaluable because it had many many recipes for basic sauces, stocks and classic dishes that are designed for 10 or more people.

    Most restaurant chefs in quality restaurants keep this volume handy, and it’s a short-sighted professional caterer that doesn’t also use this volume often. It’s also useful for the non-pro as well, but only if you cook for large families and gatherings occasionally.

    Cookbook of the day – Splendid Soups


    Splendid Soups: Recipes and Master Techniques for Making the World’s Best Soups

    by James Peterson

    Publisher: Wiley (September 22, 2000)
    ISBN-10: 0471391360
    ISBN-13: 978-0471391364
    Once again, I don’t have the most current edition of this book. I have the 1994 edition, which clocks in at 100 less pages than this new edition. Mine has a different cover as well:



    I’m assuming that Peterson has added some modern variants of classic soups, as he has presumably done with the updated edition of his Sauces book that I reviewed yesterday. This could be considered a companion edition to Sauces, but even this earlier edition has a wider scope than Sauces, with non-Western ingredients such as bonito flakes, Udon noodles, miso, and various soups from the Far East and other places included in this edition. You’ll find soups from India, Japan, Morocco, Thailand and other far-flung corners of the globe.

    This is another of Peterson’s “reference” works. As such, you won’t find a single photograph. It’s all recipes, tips and techniques. Some recipes are for intermediate or advanced cooks, but even the beginning cook can find a lot of practical advice on soup-making that will help them move past the basic into the more advanced levels of cooking.

    If you have Peterson’s Sauces, this should sit next to it on your bookshelf.