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Happy in the Kitchen Hardcover – August 30, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

"In cooking as in love, you have to try new things to keep it interesting." So says chef Michel Richard in his cookbook Happy in the Kitchen, a collection of 150-plus recipes that more than make his point. Whether reinventing traditional recipes, often whimsically, as he does with dishes like Tomato Tartare, Cuttlefish Schnitzel, and Turkey "Steak" au Poivre, or presenting otherwise novel treats like Tuna Medallions with Passion Fruit Salsa; Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Honeydew Melon; and Lamb-Loin with Basil Crust and Fennel, Richard delights readers with creativity that can thrill. Vegetable dishes, including his spuds-for-rice Potato Risotto and Lo-Carb Carbonara, in which sliced onions sub for pasta, are particularly ingenious. Equally novel--and tempting--are sweets like Upside-Down Chocolate Orange Sponge Cake, Lemon-Lime Madeleine Muffins, and Raspberry Meringues with Raspberry Tuiles.

To pull off his particular sleight-of-hand, Richard has devised novel techniques--like using plastic film to shape and poach food, and gelatin to bind fatlessly--that all cooks should know about. Whether readers will tackle the often-exacting recipes will depend on their willingness to engage in kitchen workouts that also regularly require special equipment like a Japanese mandoline and electric meat slicer. Though there are a number of simpler, homier recipes like Tomato Soup with Fresh Mozzarella and Thyme-Glazed Baby Back Ribs--and the formulas themselves couldn't be more lucid--this handsome book will probably be best appreciated as an artful record of a great and wonderfully playful cooking intelligence. Replete with stunning photos, used generously to illustrate techniques, it's hard to imagine any serious cook who wouldn't want to join Richard, dig in, and learn. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this hefty follow-up to his 1993 debut (Home Cooking with a French Accent), Richard imparts culinary wisdom of the highest order in cheerful nursery tones. Humpty Dumpty, Captain Crunch and a vegetable called Mr. Beet are a few of the merry characters who populate his kitchen. Goofiness apart, the book is filled with clever, innovative techniques and little-known time-savers (microwave béchamel, anybody? food processor sorbet?). Most of the recipes hinge on Richard's unconventional methods, and their successful execution does require a certain level of skill. Attention-grabbers like Asparagus Salmon (in which asparagus spears are slipped inside the pocket of a salmon fillet which is then sliced like a terrine), and Red Snapper in a Spinach Coating are elegant enough to serve to a Michelin inspector, yet are corralled and fenced within the range of ability of a competent home cook. Other dishes are more demanding—the superlative Lamb Loin with White Bean Sauce, for example. In any case, professional cooks and serious amateurs will find this volume an essential resource. (Oct. 31)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan; First Edition edition (August 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579652999
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579652999
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 1.2 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By I. Seligman on January 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is one cookbook to cook with, ahead of your other cookbooks, and then just let your friends or guests rave..over your cookery skills.

This is as if a master chef, genie like, comes to your home and dispensed countless pearls of cookery knowledge..elevating a simple recipe to one that has you say "Oh my Gawd, why didn't I think of's SO good".

He tells how to get certain foods "crunchy" to excite the experiences of taste..making vegetables and meats alike crunchy with flavor, yet not overdoing it. At the same time, he tells how to heat vegetables so they are soft and tasty, without overdoing it and giving that overcooked taste to them. Try his All-Crust Potato Gratin to see.

He "works" a vegetable to bring out it's best...with carrots, he braises whole carrots in chicken stock and orange juice, to give body, brightness and intense flavor, then finished off with touches of unusual spice combinations, and sprinkles the end product with orange zest. Heck, outside of glazing carrots, or eating baby ones raw, I didn't realize the fun I could have with the crispy critters. And onions..what magic he conjures up with cooked onions, as their soft sweetness, sometimes heightened with caramelization, are used as stuffed shells, a pasta-less pasta, a tart, and as a delicious component of a burger!

Have you read about trendy sous-vide cooking and the $2000 thermal circulator set-ups? Get a Foodsaver* to vacuum pack your food in plastic bags, or just wrap it in Saran-wrap* or other cellophane to keep in the flavors while cooking it at ~ 160 F. A steady burner/range, thermometer and some ice cubes will get you through most any sous-vide recipe in your home.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Happy in the Kitchen' by the outstanding French / American chef, Michel Richard is a book all foodies should immediately buy and read from cover to cover, twice. If you are a card-carrying cooking amateur or professional, stop wasting your time reading this review, go to the top of the page, and click yourself an order for this volume. Now! At the very worst, put this book on the top of your Christmas wish list and give it to your best, or best-heeled friend.

Mentioning Christmas reminds us that Monsieur Richard looks remarkably like old St. Nick himself, and this book is simply chocked full of goodies for the adventuresome chef. I immediately place this among the few exceptional books by leading American restaurant chefs, such as Thomas Keller's `The French Laundry Cookbook', Judy Rodgers' `The Zuni Café Cookbook', Eric Ripert's `A Return to Cooking' and Paul Bertolli's `Cooking by Hand'. I've read several `good' restaurant books, all with their fair share of useful recipes for the home kitchen. But, I've also read many restaurant cookbooks which have very little value for the average home cook, even for the serious amateur cook, since they teach relatively little which adds to our basic understanding of cooking and less to our arsenal of useful techniques. Monsieur Richard does all of these things, and he does them well.

I may even go so far as to say that Michel Richard may be America's answer to Spain's inventive Ferran Adria, if it were not for the equally inventive Thomas Keller. The thing is, however, that Richard has done better than Keller of communicating his techniques to us mere mortals in the kitchen. At the very least, he has done a much better job (witness the title of the book) of communicating the joy of inventive cooking in the kitchen.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Sushi on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book actually had me excited about cooking again. The recipes are

interesting and not so complicated, that just reading them makes you want to run right out and get the ingrediants to try them. You can tell from reading the book that Chef Michel Richard loves cooking and his enthusiasm

is infectious! His anecdotes and stories are very funny and you can see he has a great sense of humor which come out in his recipes. I have over 700 cookbooks, but this is one I actually use, especially for inspiration and some new techniques that the chef teaches in this fab cookbook.

The photos are stunning also.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By E. Trent Vernon on September 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
After having this book for less than 24 hours I have already learned so much. From something as simple as pureeing red beets with potatos.. why havnt I thought of doing that... to using plastic wrap as sausage casings..

I have attended culinary school, and am starting my first restaurant job on Monday... so while I am not a home cook per se... this book is very inspirational and very doable for the earnest and experienced home cook.

A word about the photograpy: Gorgeous.

Buy this cookbook, as it is definately one of the years, if not past five years best. You will treasure it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Antigone Walsh VINE VOICE on July 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is enormous fun. Michel Richard is an incredibly talented chef and the kitchen is his playpen. His passion is contagious and his innovations are ingenious. From using a meat slicer to cut cookie dough to cooking with Saran wrap, he encourages the reader to improvise and enjoy. The book is beautifully photographed and the recipes, though involved, are doable. (I had great success with the salmon dishes including the salmon with asparagus and the lamb. The recipes and presentation are restaurant quality and may be a bit complex for a beginner.) The food is gourmet with a dash of humor--check out the Chicken Faux Gras and the use of cocoa puffs in one of the desserts.

Start this book from the beginning --I jumped to the recipes before reading through the book and was quickly overwhelmed. A few days later, I started at page one and was quickly enchanted by the author and his philosophy. Food at its best is a sensual pleasure--an aromatic merger of taste, texture, temperature and appearance. When fully engaged, the craft of cooking raises eating to an art.
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