132 of 139 people found the following review helpful
Over the years I have come to realize that there are two kinds of cooks in this world - those who follow a recipe like they are conducting an experiment in nuclear chemistry and those who look at a recipe more as a general set of guidelines to build on. While the "nuclear science" sort of cook will find Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques helpful, it really was written for those of us who belong to the "guidelines" group. Here are the basic techniques to build on.
I came to appreciate Jacques Pepin rather late in life. Yes, I had acquired a cookbook or two of his over my five decades plus of collecting and seen him on TV a few times, but it wasn't until after I had watched Julia Child truss a chicken a few years ago that Pepin's quiet competence really struck me. Why it hadn't struck me before, I'll never know. Heaven knows I've watched Julia a thousand times or more, from her very earliest days on TV. Here was Julia Child, one of the world's most famous chefs, busily cutting and snipping and tying here and tying there for several minutes, until the chicken she was trussing for the rotisserie looked more like a badly wound ball of yarn than a chicken! And yet, my old-fashioned butcher of years gone by knew how to turn a rolled roast into a neat package with a single piece of string in a flash. So did my Dad. And that was when it dawned on me that Julia Child, Kitchen Goddess, did NOT know how to properly tie up a piece of meat.
My TV shows of choice are almost always cooking shows of one sort or another, so it wasn't long after that revelation that I began to notice that virtually none of today's younger TV chefs do either. Everywhere you look, when something needs to be tied in the kitchen little snippets of string make their appearance. And then one day I happened across a show that Jacques Pepin and Julia Child did together - a holiday Cooking in Concert show where they produce a boneless stuffed turkey. Jacques did the tying up - one piece of string, still hitched to the ball, not a pair of scissors in sight, quick as a wink! That was when I began to really take notice of Jacques Pepin and his quiet competence.
When Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food was released, I was among the first to preorder. The CD that comes with the book is, to my mind, worth every penny all by itself. It also happens to contain the "secret" to tying up something in the kitchen without a gazillion pieces of string everywhere. (Oddly, my Dad actually did insist that I learn this along with how to pitch a campsite - he just never connected it to the roast beef!) Essential Pepin made my short list of the books I would grab on the way out the door in case of fire almost immediately and when Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques was announced I immediately put in my preorder.
Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques is divided into a number of sections - Basics, Vegetables, Eggs, Fish & Shellfish, Poultry, Meat, Offal & Charcuterie, Carving, Bread & Pasta, Pastry & Dessert and Presentation - with each section clearly delineated by a band of color at the outer edge of the pages - convenient for finding the section you want quickly and easily. Within each section you'll find a list of the individual contents of the section followed by a short introduction and then a selection of techniques or recipes that illustrate certain basic principles that can then be extended elsewhere.
(I did check some of the recipes against Essential Pepin and found no duplicates.) The print is quite reasonably sized, the page numbers definitely large, each step accompanied by a photograph, many in color. You won't need your reading glasses for this book. The book is nicely bound and includes a ribbon book mark.
While Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques is not exhaustive (you'll find no techniques common to Asian cooking for example), it is extensive and strongly reflects Pepin's background & training. Jacques Pepin was raised in World War II France and began an apprenticeship in the professional kitchen not long afterwards. Like those of my parents' generation who grew up during the Great Depression here, Pepin is clearly a believer in "Waste Not - Want Not". He utilizes every scrap and always has an eye to economy. Pepin's recipe for Pain au Chocolat does not call for those special bars of chocolate you might buy from a famous baking site but instead shows you how to make your own and when he tells you that the fat from trimming a saddle of lamb can be discarded you can rest assured there is nothing else to be done with it.
Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques is heavy on techniques not often covered by other authors - trimming your own meat, dividing a large cut into smaller portions, cutting up & boning your own poultry, (a great way to save money!) making Pullman bread (something I do not have instructions for anywhere else, despite my extensive collection of bread baking books), even two different ways to make puff pastry, and the techniques he illustrates run a gamut of skill levels from rank amateur just starting in the kitchen to professional.
If you would like to learn to really cook well, then Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques will be a treasured addition to your library.
58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2013
Jacques Pepin is a master and he shares his knowledge freely and anything you absorb from reading just a page or two will improve your cooking. Other reviews will fill you in on Jacques and his ability to convey his knowledge in a way that helps you to cook/improve any recipe or make your own creations.
What I have to add here deals with the format of THIS electronic book. On a lark, I picked up the book sample on BOTH Amazon and Barnes-n-noble, and viewed it on my Kindle-for-PC and nook-online, to see how bad the photos would be on the screen. I did not expect to see a difference, this was just an experiment. I was stunned to see a BIG difference! While the text size was virtually identical in both places, the photo size varied considerably. The photo of Jacques about to hit the garlic with the heel of his hand on Kindle-for-PC occupied about one third of the horizontal line of print below the photo. As of this writing (Feb 4, 2013) using my full screen and a page display, the photo was a little less than 2 inches wide--rather small for a "how to" book. Now, COMPARE that to the other ebook format: the same photo occupied about 80% of the print line below it: on my same full screen also using a 2 page display, that same photo was just shy of 5 inches wide--what a difference a photo of that size makes!! That was even better than what I saw in the print book. I never expected that.
Honestly, overall, I prefer the Kindle "look" of electronic books, and the photos in this Kindle sample loaded MUCH faster than on B-n-N online, but the difference the size of the photos make in this book is HUGE. I am hoping this is a correctable software difference, and that Amazon can make Kindle-for-PC show the larger photos at some future date.
BOTTOM LINE: In a visually orientated how-to book, photo size matters--Get a free sample first and view the how-to photos on YOUR device/software. If you see the many detailed photos in the body of this book as being nearly the width of the print, and your screen is large enough to make that a good viewing size, then consider buying the electronic version--even over print version, because it makes such an improvement in SEEING what Jacques is doing.
24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2012
A very thick, heavy tome that might be your reference source of choice. Here master chef Jacques Pepin takes you through perhaps everything you might want to know about cooking but were ashamed to ask? With over 500 techniques explained in detail and 160 recipes to put your learning to the test, do you need anything else?
Like so many books of this genre, often the book's success or not can depend on just how you get on with the book and its style. For review we had been given an incomplete, advanced "proof" which sadly had many parts missing, yet from what we could review there is certainly a large amount of thorough, detailed information on offer. Many of the techniques double up with a recipe, such as hollowing out and stuffing artichokes, a lot of the basics might appear as common sense and some of the more esoteric items such as how to make a decorative swan from a fruit might have you scratching your head.
Yet there is certainly a method behind any perceived madness. Take peeling the humble onion. Of course you might blunder through doing it, perhaps wasting so much in the process that you'd have a chef questioning your parentage if he or she saw you do that in their kitchen. You might struggle with tearful eyes (and that is before the bad language) to boot. So here in the privacy of your own home you could swallow your pride, discreetly look up something you might be unsure about and then start doing it without any fuss or hassle... oblivious to any family members that you've possibly corrected something you've never really understood before. It can be our little secret...
In all there are several mega chapters to answer hopefully every question you may have - Introduction; Equipment; Basics, Sauces and Stocks; Vegetables; Eggs; Fish and Shellfish; Poultry; Meat; Offal and Charcuterie; Carving; Bread and Pasta; Pastry and Dessert and Presentation.
The style of imparting information in this book is easy on the eye and hopefully brain-friendly. Concise text, helpful pictures and good techniques. There is not a lot more you can ask for. Some of the recipes given might appear simple yet often simplicity is the key. Fried potato balls. Hardly the most complex recipe yet still something that could easily be ruined by a belligerent "I know everything" attitude. At the same time you are learning these culinary hints and tips you can also boost your French language skills as all recipes and tip titles are presented in English and French. Quite why you need to know that "separating eggs" is "séparation des Oeufs" is unclear but this reviewer supposes it can help reinforce terminology and, well, it doesn't hurt to know your oeufs from your bacon.
Some of the recipes are quite intriguing and less common too. such as dandelion salad, so through this book you are getting more than just raw knowledge. Many of the recipes look decisively yummy.
One hopes that this book is rounded off by an excellent index, or indices, and perhaps various reference sources too. Sadly we will never know with this review copy due to the aforementioned partial version we received. Most publishers are not so short-sighted with their review copies. No doubt this publisher has had their reasons, so sadly we cannot give the book as much praise as it might otherwise deserve. The price point is high, even compared to similar works by other authors, but it is still worth a look at a bookstore to see if you have a need for this book and if you can gel with it.
37 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
This is an updated version of Jacques' classic tome. If you don't already have it, it's a worthy addition to any kitchen collection if only for it's lore and culinary tradition. This version has color, which is almost makes the book worth re-buying if you own an earlier edition.
I think all beginners should start learning techniques before recipes. My main "gripe", if you can call it that, is that Jacques is so much better on the screen than in a book. He cooks with confidence, precision, passion and grace--the last things a beginner learns and the hardest to convey in a book. I think a beginner would learn more by first watching Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way: Jacques Favorites then consulting this book for reference. For example, Ming Tsai's most recent book Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy has a step-by-step video of every recipe in the book (note, the videos cost extra) because some things are hard to teach in a book but easy to teach in a video because you understand the moment you see it demonstrated.
We live in a world with the FoodNetwork, the wonderful PBS shows, and other great food media. I can't help but think the publishers were after a quick buck by doing a simple color reprint when they could have hit a home run with new video content to supplement this classic and make up for what The Complete Pepin: Techniques and Recipes never was.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2013
Let's face it, Jacques Pepin is, hands down, probably the best chef in the cookbook business.This is not a book of fifty recipes for thirty-minute chicken dishes but a comprehensive treatment of the techniques of cooking. Jacques takes you from how to hold a knife to how to debone a whole chicken with illustrated step by step instructions. This book updates and expands the earlier (1975) version and adds color photography. Pepin's technical skills and his mastery of the art of cooking make this book a must have for the beginner and the accomplished home cook. If there is no room on your shelf for another book on cooking--get a bigger shelf.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The new version of Pepin's classic tutorial on culinary techniques is now in Kindle format and has hundreds of photos of step-by-step instruction from sharpening knives to peeling onions to boning out a joint or making a souffle. The recipes are often classic-looking but unfamiliar; for example, potato and cheese-stuffed onions. Looks like a garnish for a traditional roast, but I've never seen these onions before. They are broth-simmered onion shells, filled with a mashed potato, cream cheese, chive and parmesan filling. They are a fantastic side for a roast beef cooked for a big occasion. This kind of side dish can take some time up front but ends up as a very elegant accompaniment to make ahead of time and wow the guests. All you need is some blanched green beans or steamed broccoli, a green salad to follow (and maybe some fruit with cheeses for dessert) and you have a memorable dinner party.
In a way, this book is the perfect companion to Julia Child's classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) Though the recipes differ, the classics are here (onion soup, spinach timbales.) Julia Child's book is good reading and has excellent drawings, but Pepin's technique book shows the way you'd make many of these, with photographs that go step by step.
I REALLY LIKE the Kindle edition. (You need a color-capable Kindle such as a Fire.) I can prop the Kindle on the kitchen counter and keep the page up that I'm working from. And other than smudges on the screen, no pages to get spotted up or spilled on. In hardbound format, this is a big book and I always found it a bit unwieldy to have propped up on my counter.
Summary: a must for anyone who enjoys classic French cooking techniques. Great in Kindle format, revised edition has wonderful step-by-step photos. Recipes are often unique but classic.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2012
I learned to cook from my mother, a West Virginia hillbilly who had a wonderful talent for making fantastic meals out of whatever was at hand using a mismatched assortment of inferior equipment. But Mom wasn't content to just keep making the same things over and over again. She liked to experiment, to expand her horizons. Whenever we'd go on vacation, we'd find a restaurant serving something we'd never had before and give it a try. When we'd return to our home, nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, we'd try to reverse-engineer the recipes with the limited resources we had at hand.
Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with this.
Times have changed. More and better ingredients are available in grocery stores. It is now within my grasp to cook whatever I have a mind to, without much substitution. I made Nahari, a Pakistani comfort-food beef stew, for a friend of mine with ingredients I already had onhand. I'm having a Veal Marsala tonight. The world is my oyster po' boy with Creole remoulade.
Even though I've been cooking for forty years, and consider myself fairly adept, I am still aware of my technical inadequacies. My mother had no formal training, and neither have I. I cook at home, for my own pleasure and the benefit of my friends and loved ones. But, I still believe that if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing the best you can. Here's where Jacques Pepin comes in.
Pepin is all about empowering the home cook, adding necessary techniques to their skill set, and treating them like they actually have the sense to know which end of the knife to hold. He fills in the gaps that most self-taught cooks have, without trying to cover every single possible situation one might encounter. He is a career chef and teacher who knows how to impart knowledge without condescending or getting hung up on trivia. If you enjoy cooking, and know how (for the most part), then this book is for you.
If I do have one complaint, it is the amount of space spent on desserts. I know that's probably a French thing, but sweets are probably the least interesting area of cooking for me. I'd have preferred more space devoted to charcuterie and cooking with offal, but that's just me. It is otherwise a fine book that you will be glad to own.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
You will learn some of the classical cooking techniques from master chef Jacques Pepin. Pepin starts his comprehensive cookbook with a friendly introduction followed by a chapter about equipment.
Other chapters include:
Basics, Sauces, and Stocks
Fish and Shellfish
Offal and Charcuterie
Bread and Pasta
Pastry and Dessert
You will find plenty of photos demonstrating the various cooking techniques throughout Pepin's cookbook. You will also find plenty of friendly tips and hints throughout his very approachable cookbook.
Some of the recipes you will find in Pepin's cookbook include:
Puffed Potato Slices
Breaded Sweetbreads with Tarragon Sauce
Chicken wit Morels
Filet of Beef with Truffle Sauce
Fruit Salad Ambrosia
There is an interactive table of contents and index to make navigation easy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2014
One of Pepin's lesser known books it is still a nice book with lots of useful recipes. The emphasis on home cooking is nice and most of the recipes assume you will have a well stocked kitchen, but not one full of specialty items that are hard to find at your local supermarket.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2013
I love the explanations of "why" to do this or that, instead of the common "how" or the endless "cookbooks" with recepies copy-and-paste from eachother...
I have seen lots of cookbooks with fancy pictures. Nice. But to really create you need to understand the technique behind, Pepin gives you much of that rare understanding.
This book, lots of time and practice and practice and practice is all that you need to learn to make great food.
I have the Kindle edition, you do loose some of the overview but you gain portability, I have it in a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 which makes it easy to have whereever I go.