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180 of 184 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2011
I am amazed to see how many people had the nerve to review this book on advance copy without even using the book or viewing the DVD! It is making me very suspicious of the Amazon Vine program and now all reviews on Amazon. I received this book as a gift, I did not intend to buy it. I didn't intend to buy it because I have Pepin's Complete Techniques, Fast Food My Way, Sweet Simplicity, his memoir and I don't know what else in my collection of over 450 cookbooks. I mean, do I need another one? I didn't think so. Well, I was wrong, wrong, wrong!

For starters, the book is made to be abused. A thick plastic cover that isn't destroyed when you wipe it clean. And every page is solidly stocked with recipes interspersed with sweet watercolor/drawings like cookbooks used to have. The complaints here over the lack of photos just don't apply as these dishes are so simple that any way they look when you finish them is probably exactly what they look like for everyone else. What happened to the time when people liked good food to look like it was made in an auberge and not a 5-star restaurant? What happened to the time when Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was just fine with no photos?

As for the DVD, it is PURE GOLD even if you never use a recipe. You want to know what it looks like to do basic things right, like truss a chicken with or without a needle, shuck an oyster or clam with minimal trouble, use up artichokes that are spoiling, make a caramel cage or angel hair nest for a dessert? Just watch the magnificent videos of a chef with rare confidence in every technique he demonstrates, as if it were as easy as folding a napkin.

Finally, the recipes -- everything from basic fish and chicken recipes to eggplant fritters or grilled rabbit to duck liver pate to escargot to blanquette de veau to dacquoise to cherry bread pudding. Tons of soups and vegetable dishes as well. Here I must mention that it has been on my mind for years that he had a Potagerie in midtown Manhattan but hadn't really revealed those recipes. I believe he has here.

Yet nothing prepared with a million steps, nothing explained in a complicated way, or even a pompous way (e.g., Cook's Illustrated) from a clear thinker who understands the big picture, as though he is the culmination of what Escoffier intended. To give you an idea, when I read Cook's Illustrated recipes I get the impression they are in a lab and they never get the room dirty. When I read this book, I can't wait to get to work and make a big mess!

In other words, a humble book by a great chef and teacher. Who doesn't need anyone to write a positive review, really, but look how many people can't resist -- it's just that good.
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190 of 206 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon September 3, 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Cookbooks are a hard sell these days. If you want a recipe, you can get 20 versions on Epicurious, or use google and get thousands. If you want to see a technique demonstrated, youtube probably has it. So what would impel anybody to actually pay for a cookbook? In one word - Wisdom.

This tome (and it is, a tome) is a collection gleaned from Pepin's lifetime as a chef, (somewhat) updated to accommodate modern sensibilities. It has a remarkable range, from dorm food (pita pizza? really?) to roast goose with all the trimmings, to home-cured ham (cooking time - 8 months). It also has notable breadth, including not only things we Americans expect from a French cook (frogs legs, croissants, cassoulet), but also Asian soups, Indian relishes, and other dishes that have found their way into the US diet. (I was tickled to find my grandmother's schav recipe on the first page. Using chicken stock and sweet cream instead of scallion broth and sour, but still). Most of the recipes rely entirely on fresh ingredients (Tabasco sauce and such being the exceptions), but there are notes about potential substitutions (using canned stock for fresh, for example).

What makes this all worth it, however, is is the tidbits of knowledge larded throughout: "Moisten your hands before rolling out the meatballs," "You can double the dressing recipe - it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks," "Don't worry if some of the stuffing is visible - it will not leak out," "You can make this ahead and reheat it, but add the peas at the last minute so they won't lose their color." And so on. This, coupled with the advice on techniques, brings the recipes out of the realm of "scarey French food" and into the realm of "totally doable." (People familiar with the Julia and Jacques series may recognize the philosophy). Pepin isn't so much lecturing, as looking over your shoulder while you cook.

There are no food-porn photos of glistening and steaming finished dishes, just occasional simple drawings reminiscent of those in the Joy of Cooking, or James Beard's books. All good - they would just have gotten spattered with melted butter anyway. This book will be living in the kitchen, not on the coffee table.

If I had to find something to complain about, it would be in some of the recipe names - the recipe for "cucumber-yogurt relish," for example, notes that it is "often served as an accompaniment to hot dishes in Indian cooking," but doesn't call it Raita. We know what that is. (Hopefully the index will have a cross-reference, but my advance copy did not have the index yet). There are also shaded boxes highlighting various techniques, which is wonderful ("how to bone a chicken," "artichoke hearts - basic techniques," "safety considerations with salami and ham," etc.), but some worthy advice is not set off in shaded boxes, and some of the boxes contain things like "alternate recipes," which is interesting, but not what I'm going to flip through looking for. Again, I have an advance copy, so some of this might change.

I didn't get the DVD, so I can't comment on that, though if I should somehow obtain one I will update my review (ahem). Even without the DVD, however, this cookbook is recommended.

(Oh, and for people trying to decide between this and Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques- there is some overlap, but this book is more chatty and home-cooking oriented, while that one cares more about presentation and garnish. I'm also quite sure the DVD will be easier to follow than the photos in the earlier book. If you can find a good price for the paperback, however, it's worth owning both.)

UPDATE - Kindle versus Paper editions: Inasmuch as my review copy didn't include the videos or index, and inasmuch as I do love the cookbook, I have now purchased the Kindle edition, to view on my Paperwhite and (for the videos) on my laptop. The translation to Kindle has mostly been done well, with the charming drawn illustrations brought forward and the layout of the recipes preserved. However - the Table of Contents only lists major topic headings, which makes it frustrating to use to navigate, and the Index (which, oddly, shows up in the middle of the TOC) is a major pain to scan through on the Paperwhite unless you go to the smallest font size (devices with bigger screens may be able to handle it better). The Kindle search function is an overachiever - unless you know the specific name of a recipe you'll get too many hits to be useful. As such, I do not recommend getting the Kindle edition of this instead of the paper version.
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
I've been a fan of Chef Pepin for 20+ years. I remember first learning to cook watching his show, "Cooking with Claudine" (his daughter) on PBS. I've owned a few of his cookbooks, and have always had great success with his recipes. I honestly wasn't sure how to rate this book. The recipes are excellent, 5 stars in breadth and content, but the lack of pictures is a serious flaw. The DVD is great for learning basic techniques--but does it make up for not one single picture in the actual book?? I don't know. Without the DVD, three stars. The lack of pictures is a serious problem. I added another star for the inclusion of the DVD, because even though these are basic techniques--it's a great tool. Plus there are more videos on the publisher's website.

This is a massive cookbook. Recipes on everything one could imagine--even offal (brains, tripe, etc. But what's glaringly absent are pictures. There's not one picture of one completed dish in the book. Why? Many people choose recipes with their eyes. I'm not such a good cook that I could judge whether or not I want to make something just by reading the ingredients. I can't understand this glaring omission as the other cookbooks I've owned of his had all had great food photography. This is all the more a glaring omission as when I bought this book, I also bought The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria which not only features pictures of each and every dish--but also pictures of each and every step in cooking the dish! Still, I love Chef Pepin's introductory blurbs with each recipe. They do, on some level, make up for the lack of pictures as they draw you in... make you want to try it, experience this recipe.

The full line up of contents are (as there was no preview when I bought it):
Soups
Salads
Eggs and Cheese
Pasta, Rice, Grains, and Potatoes
Breads, Sandwiches and Pizzas
Shellfish and Fish
Poultry and Game
Meat
Charcuterie and Offal
Vegetables and Side Dishes
Fruit Desserts
Puddings, Sweet Souffles and Crepes
Cakes, Cookies, and Candies
Tarts, Pies, and Pastries
Frozen Desserts
Basics (Seasonings, Stocks, Sauces, Butters, and Oils, Relishes and Pickles, and Drinks)

One of the best chapters (IMHO)is on fruit desserts. I've never seen such great variety. Our family loves to have fruit based desserts (lessens the guilt;)), so this has been a godsend. From a simple baked apple, to apple and banana fritters, banana bread pudding, and one of our simple favorites favorites... fruit (blueberries although we've used bananas too), greek yogurt, and brown sugar. That's the beauty of so many of Chef Pepin's recipes...they're simple and delicious. One thing to point out is that some people may assume French food=expensive food...based on what restaurants charge. In reality, this cookbook is frugal cooking at its best. Chef Pepin often gives you options on how to change a dish around (turning a white bean/chicken dish into a cassoulet, for example), freeze things, or use a cheaper/more economical ingredient. Many of us recipes are quick and easy--such as a few recipes for great pita pizzas--no need to make pizza dough--or sandwiches. The variety is just amazing.

The DVD comes in this weird envelop thing that you have to rip out of the book to open. Once you tear open the plastic on the back, you can get into it--but you're going to want to put it in a good case. You can see more video demonstrations at the publisher's website. There are basic techniques given for each of the major categories of recipes, along with some more advanced techniques:

Basics: how to tie an apron (really), sharpening a knife, knife skills, sauteing like a chef, grinding and crushing peppercorns, opening wine and champagne, making butter roses, cutting parchment paper

Vegetables: peeling, crushing, chopping garlic; peeling a carrot; washing leeks; peeling and trimming asparagus; shelling peas and fava beans; trimming corn; peeling broccoli; cleaning spinach; prepping artichokes; peeling peppers; peeling tomatoes, making tomato roses; cutting potatoes

Fruit: peeling, coring, and slicing apples; removing the seeds from a pomegranate; peeling and julienning orange skin, segmenting an orange; cutting lemons

Eggs: separating eggs; making mayonnaise; cooked eggs; cooking and unmolding an egg cocotte; deep frying an egg; a classic omelet

Fish and Shellfish: shucking oysters and clams; cleaning calimari; peeling and cleaning shrimp; killing a live lobster, removing the meat from a cooked lobster; scaling a fish; boning, cutting, and serving salmon; boning monkfish and black bass; cleaning sole and boning a cooked sole

Poultry and Meat: trussing a chicken; cutting up a chicken for stew, boned wings, lollipops, boned legs; cutting and boning a chicken for galatine; carving a roasted chicken; cleaning and cutting a beef filet; cutting & grilling NY strip steak; preparing sausage and cooking in a circulator; cleaning, boning & dividing a leg of lamb; skinning and skewering lamb kidneys; and cleaning and cutting a rabbit.

Stock and Consomme: skimming chicken stock, clarifying stock: consomme

Breads: Forming and making breads: baguette, gros pain, and epi; making melba toast

Desserts: making crepes; making, forming, and rolling pie dough; making, rolling, and forming sweet dough; making and working with puff pastry; making and piping meringue; cutting a genoise; chocolate-covered leaves; chocolate balloons; working with sugar: making cages, making angel hair.

This is where Chef Pepin SHINES! He is an incredible teacher. I'm looking forward to the PBS series--but I have no idea how they're going to even approach such a great breadth of recipes. Should be interesting!

Merci Bien Chef Pepin for such a great cookbook. Please, though, next time could you include some pics?
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 19, 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In "Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food," world-renowned chef Pepin, popularly known for his cooking show, shares his recipes--which are divided into categories like soups, salads, eggs and cheese, pasta/rice/grains/potatoes, breads/sandwiches/pizzas, shellfish and fish, poultry and game, meat, charcuterie and offal, vegetables and side dishes, fruit desserts, puddings/sweet soufflés/ crepes, cakes/cookies/candles, tarts/pies/pastries, frozen desserts, and basics.

After each category, a page of recipes and corresponding page numbers is listed. The recipes themselves are listed with a related tidbit of information, list of ingredients, and a couple of short paragraphs detailing the preparation techniques. Most of the ingredients for the recipes are pretty basic and, thankfully, easy to find.

The recipes cover a wide range of food: anything from risotto with vegetables, mint ice cream, black truffle salad, chocolate soufflé, cheesecake with apricot blueberry sauce, chocolate mousse, potato crepes with caviar, poached oysters with mushrooms and red pepper, apricot fondue, to Christmas fruitcake, broiled lobster with bread stuffing, onion and bread soup, smoked salmon, strawberry buttermilk shortcake, and etc, etc, etc. Throughout the book, well-known dishes are mixed up with more exotic once.

The book ends with a long and comprehensive index, organized by ingredients and meal categories. A DVD is included with the book.

Now to my thoughts: I tried making some of the recipes in the book, and was impressed by the results. My favorite so far is the black truffle salad. The book is pretty hefty--as the 700 plus recipes in the title indicate. It's definitely worth it though. Recommended for fans of cooking programs, newbies, as well as professional cooks.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2012
Okay, ok. Let's first taxi these children of the Food Network "foodies" safely off the runway.

Readers who want colorful photographs and step-by-step instructions: You want either "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" Or "Jacques Pepin Celebrates."

Readers who want the dvd to contain visual instructions on how to prepare many of the dishes in the book, buy the 3 dvd set of the same name (Essential Pepin) OR go sample some full length episodes on KQED. The single dvd included with this book is a condensed, updated version of Pepin's The Complete Techniques DVD, where he shows you how to perform essential techniques (knife sharpening, trussing a chicken, making a baguette, proper way of cutting, etc). I assure you, this is nothing like the current crop of tv cooks. He gets to the point and shows you the correct way. There is no flashiness, no reality tv conflict.

Readers who want to read about Pepin's long successful career, there is his autobiography: The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen.

Readers who don't know who Jacques Pepin is, and ask why they should buy this book when they can get the free recipes from the internet? Just read some of the conflicting comments from internet recipes. Internet recipes are not written with decades of teaching and cooking experience from a master chef who personally retested each recipe before putting it in this book.

The rest, either enjoy Essential Pepin, or go sign up with the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan where he is the Dean of Special Programs or go visit Jacques himself and ask him to show you how to cook.

REVIEW BEGINS HERE:

As some defenders of this book have already stated, there are no photographs or colorful pictures, because this was the way cookbooks were written (even up till recently: the excellent 2004 edition of Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl and the watered down 2009 edition) In Jacques's defense, there are accompanying videos online and an affordable excellent 3-dvd set (of the same name), so this streamlined no-nonsense format allows him to fit more of his favorite dishes in.

And there sure is a lot to fit in. At first glance, it may look like he is reiterating recipes from previous books. To a certain extent, that's true. After all, he does say they are a collection of his favorite recipes from his lifetime. Furthermore, these have been updated AND more importantly, RETESTED by the chef himself. All those Food Network "personalities" may look pretty and serve up books with nice colorful pictures of untested dishes, but those shows are more about perfect teeth and busty entertainment as opposed to technique and taste. And yes, you can get many free recipes online, but I've found them to be hit-or-miss. Since the recipes are tested here by a trustworthy source, you know all the work you put into it will never go to waste.

Many artists in their mature years rediscover the beauty of simplicity. Writers, painters, photographers, poets, and musicians literally gain an insight into the essence of their art, where the core ingredients are allowed to shine. Lucky for us, Jacques Pepin has spent a lifetime streamling his formidable repertory into a collection that can be created with ingredients you'd normally stock in your pantry. That's not to say that the dishes can be haphazardly thrown together, but it certainly helps when the author has openly said he is not a snob and will eat anything from airport hot dogs to Piedmont truffles.

Though Mr. Pepin doesn't boast about 30 minute meals, he does manage to bang out an appetizer, a main course (sometimes a side dish) and a dessert in less than 30 minutes. It's all in the technique, something he, as a professional cook since his early teens- emphasizes throughout. The taste of the book, I would say is provincial, home-cooked, and taste-oriented. Ingredients that use to call for lard have now been replaced by olive oil. White sugar have been substituted in places by honey. There is more of a focus on eating healthy. Modern "organic-retentive" cooks, however, may wince a little when he plops down a tablespoon of butter, but you can never go wrong with the grand-daddy of cooking instruction.

Still, a tasty homecooked meal is the ultimate goal in each of the dishes. Unlike creations from "celebrity cooks," these aren't dishes that are designed to wow your friends with how hip and nouveau it looks. If you're not familiar with the personal chef of France's President Charles de Gaulle, and a fellow who was asked by the Kennedys to be the White House executive chef (he turned the offer down), then you won't appreciate how humble our friendly author is when he makes it all sound easy. After all, it was Mr. Pepin who help bring Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking to print because he was impressed with the simplicity of her instructions. Throughout this book, I was pleasantly aware of the economy and the clarity of instruction; cooks from every level will be made to feel confident they can pull it off.

It also helps that the author is adventurous, loves to sample everything, and doesn't mind big exciting taste when needed: anchovies, capers, jalapenos, balsamic vinegar and gravlax. This book is a great collection that is part nostalgia for the country French cooking of Mr. Pepin's childhood and the diverse melting pot of America, a country he fell in love with and moved to.

After decades of patiently teaching us to create rewarding dishes in an efficient, delicious way, it's our turn to sit, listen to the master recount his favorite dishes, and try it out for ourselves.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 13, 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Jacques Pepin's career as a cooking teacher to the masses has tracked that of his good friend Julia Child in some striking ways -- they started off with a masterwork (Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Julia and the books that would become Complete Techniques for Jacques), and spent their careers writing books more or less tied to their television careers until creating a grand summation of all they've done before; in Julia's case, The Way to Cook, in some ways a total, ground-up rewrite of Mastering. Now in his 70s after over three decades of television and a much longer career that includes the Howard Johnson lobster roll as one of his points of pride, this is Pepin's magnum opus.

Surprisingly, it isn't a teaching book. For that, Complete Techniques is the book -- though old with numerous dated recipes, the basics in that book apply now as they did in the 1970s. No, this is all recipes -- a phone book-sized listing of the things Pepin likes. (Sadly, the lobster roll isn't in here; for that you want Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.) In that regard it perhaps comes a little closer to The Complete Robuchon, though Pepin's years in America make for a very different book, French in inspiration but ultimately covering much more ground; indeed, a great part of the recipes are rethinking American ingredients in French ways.

Unfortunately for us early adopters, we didn't get copies of the DVD, so I can't say anything about it; this is rather unfortunate, but it just means I'll have to get my hands on a copy of the final book. That will definitely be money well spent. If Pepin retired the day the book came out, he'd still be going out on top.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2011
I feel like taking my arm to my cookbook shelves and, with one quick swipe, sliding every cookbook I own onto the floor . . . except this one . . . Essential Pepin. It deserves to have its own spotlight, like a painting in a museum. However, I am reading it so thoroughly it will hardly be on my bookshelf at all like a museum piece, rather, it will be getting spotted by splatters as I cook. Many cookbooks have colorful spines to look at on the shelf, but they don't find their way on to the kitchen counter over and over for recipe reference; this one will. It is user friendly for all levels.

Each recipe is written as though a close friend is near my shoulder teaching me ~ and encouraging me kindly ~ how to cook recipes that I will make again and again. The recipes aren't just for show (they are beautiful), but rather for daily nourishment and feeling the joy that comes from cooking simple, uncomplicated foods as a daily way of life. There is something innocent, irresistible and compelling about this book. Jacques is a born teacher and something of a renaissance man. His own charming watercolor illustrations throughout the book (about 200 of them) reveal to me what a truly creative person he is. It's been fun just to flip through looking at them. They are lovely. A few years ago I loved reading his biography, "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen". It is amazing to me that this utterly worthy ICON in the world of cooking has remained so kind, gentle, humble and generous with information. He truly desires to help others learn to cook well. I turn to Pepin as a teacher more than any other notable chef when I start cooking. Jamie Oliver is the other one who inspires.

I am so excited about this book I can hardly type this review. I've been trying to find his new cooking series "Essential Pépin" on PBS (premieres in fall 2011 on PBS stations nationwide), but our state isn't carrying it yet. This cookbook/DVD is such a classic I am getting one for each of my college children.

UPDATED REVIEW 11/1/11
DVD:
I watched the DVD today and it is excellent. Nearly every lesson is very short, to the point, and taught in Pepin's classic "you can do this" style (the poultry/meat lessons are longer). His methods are extremely efficient and there is very little food wasted. There are a few camera close-ups that are blurry, but it doesn't detract. The video was a larger format than my t.v. screen [I had to go to my dvd settings and set it at 16:9 manually]. Each category on the dvd Menu has subcategories. This gives you the choice to watch one quick lesson at a time. For example, on "Basics" you can choose to watch: how to tie on an apron & towel properly; positioning and using a knife; how to open wine and champagne bottles properly; how to sauté like a chef, etc... The "Poultry and Meat" offers lessons on trussing/boning chicken, lamb or rabbit and even how to use a circulator for making sausage. For me the tutorials on boning a chicken were worth the price of the whole book. The egg category offers how to separate an egg; cook and unmold an egg cocotte; make a classic omelet. The deep fried egg looked SO delicious. I can't wait to make an omelet the way he demonstrated, to peel an apple his way, to seed a pomegranate his way, to mince garlic with his efficiency, or to julienne orange peel his way. You get the idea... happy cooking, indeed.
DVD CONTENTS:
[don't forget to click on "more" in most categories to see extra subcategories]
*Basics
*Vegetables
*Fruit
*Eggs
*Fish & Shellfish
*Poultry & Meat
*Stock & Consummé
*Breads
*Desserts
*Closing lines
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 17, 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In his 60-year career as a chef, Jacques Pépin has created thousands of recipes, trying different foods, methods, styles, procedures, and techniques. He is the author of 26 cookbooks, a cooking teacher and has been the host of several TV shows. Now he has sorted through his vast collection of recipes and assembled the best of the best in this new cookbook. While these recipes are "essentially" the way he has always cooked, they have been updated for the modern kitchen and today's cook.

The books is arranged in sections beginning with Soups, followed by Salads, Breads, Pasta, Fish, Meats, Vegetables, and Desserts to name a few, plus an introduction written by the author. A searchable DVD demonstrating cooking techniques is included with the book. (My copy is a galley and does not have the DVD so I am unable to comment on it.) There are also interesting sidebars scattered about the book with information on food safety, mini-tutorials on things like how to open an oyster, how to trim an asparagus or even the right way to melt chocolate.

One thing I will note is there are no photos of the preparation or the completed dish. Today, so many cookbooks come with photos that I felt I should mention it so no one is disappointed. If the book did have photos, I'm sure there is no way it could include 700 recipes. Instead, a DVD is provided to demonstrate the various cooking techniques.

I dove right in and tried a few of the recipes last week. I needed something quick and easy for dinner and Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Butter caught my eye. It was quick, simple and easy to make. Fresh tarragon is growing a few steps away in my herb garden but it should also be available at many supermarkets for a last minute dish.

Yesterday I made the Pumpkin Soup. Since it's October, fresh pumpkins are plentiful. This was a little more work but worth the effort. Some of the recipes are more complex or contain exotic ingredients which for me, living near a large city, are readily available. But many are quick and easy with ingredients usually found in your pantry. Detailed instructions are provided so even if a recipe is something new one should feel comfortable attempting it. I've never made pumpkin soup before and it turned out delicious.

With over 700 recipes to choose from and a wide range of levels of difficulty and preparation time, there is something here for everyone. I recommend this book as a valuable resource to add to any kitchen or cookbook collection.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Jacques Pepin is as great a teacher as he is a chef, and that's saying something. The fact that this cookbook can be used by everyone from beginners to serious amateurs (like myself) to even seasoned professionals is a tribute to the man. He presents an array of everything from simple French country cooking to more ambitious American fine-dining creations in the same gentle, confident manner. "Don't worry," the recipes say, "you can do this."
Pepin doesn't get caught up in the overly serious foofery of modern foodie-ism. Like all great cooks, he understands that the food is about the people first, and the food itself second. That doesn't mean he cuts corners, or doesn't care about using good ingredients and proper technique, it means that he's not going to whack your knuckles with a wooden spoon, figuratively speaking, if your Hollandaise sauce breaks. It's okay, he says, here's how to fix it.

I love Pepin's clear, concise directions and the way he approaches the recipes themselves. Rather than loading a dish with a variety of superfluous ingredients, he's not afraid to advise you to use water instead of stock for a cleaner taste in one of his soups. He doesn't feel the need to add 80 different spices to something just for the jolly hell of it. He doesn't just add herbs to something in order to make you feel as though you've validated your purchase of a spice rack. You can bet that if the recipe calls for tarragon, it really needs it.

One thing that may be a bit off-putting for fans of modern cookbooks is that there are no lush, food-porn photographs. A few spare illustrations, and that's it. Pepin doesn't feel the need to show you what your dish would look like if it were prepared by professional chefs, tweaked by "food stylists," and professionally photographed. I, for one, appreciate that. I always felt a little twinge disappointment when my creation didn't look like the one in the picture, even though I come from the Appalachian Mountain school of Southern cuisine where presentation means virtually nothing.

For anyone who likes to cook, no matter your skill level, this book as a definite treat.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The nicest thing about this cookbook is that it offers a huge variety of recipes types, from super simple to very fancy meals. For people who are looking to be able to buy just one book and be able to use it for a big variety of things, this is definitely in the right realm.

I have a tendency lately to lean toward focusing on more specialized books where you can be more sure that most or all of the recipes are going to be the type of stuff you want. Which way you want to go for cookbook style, though, is really just a matter of taste. This kind of book is great for people who are a little more adventurous, and want to have the opportunity to branch out.

The man is definitely a great chef who can offer a lot of different recipe ideas, though. Even if you like modifying recipes a lot, he gives you a huge variety of starting points to play around with.
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