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Secrets of Success Cookbook: Signature Recipes and Insider Tips from San Francisco's Best Restaurants Paperback – Bargain Price, April 15, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Book of Kells, one of the great illuminated manuscripts, sits in the library of Trinity College in Dublin, a new page daily revealed to the public. You could do much the same with Michael Bauer's The Secrets of Success Cookbook in your kitchen, displaying a new and wonderful signature recipe from a San Francisco restaurant each day for 300 days. Imagine. You would start with Parmesan Budinis with Warm Asparagus and Pea Shoots from Acquerello, learning the secrets of baking a successful custard, and end with an Apple Galette from Zax wherein the secret of success consists of unsalted butter and chilled dough.

As a food and restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Michael Bauer has had ample opportunity to take a note or two about the kinds of dishes that make one restaurant stand out from another, the so-called signature dish. It would be one thing to cajole Bay Area chefs into sharing their recipes and making certain those commercial recipes actually work in a home kitchen. But Bauer takes it one step farther: He ferrets out the successful technique behind each dish. Who in their right mind would go to all the time and trouble to preserve lemons for a dish like Moroccan Game Hens with Preserved Lemons and Olives as served at Kasbah? Well, it turns out that what normally takes a month can take a week if you freeze the lemons and add salt--so why not give it a try?

Bauer introduces each recipe with detailed notes about the chef and restaurant as well as baseline information about the actual dish. Recipe instructions have been pared down to the essentials. A Secrets of Success sidebar accompanies each recipe. The difficulty comes with page after page after page of deliciousness. Where to start? What to try next? Will you start with the Grand Café recipe for Polenta Soufflé with Mushroom Sauce? Or what about Bradley Ogden's Potato Skins with Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Crème Fraiche from the Lark Creek Inn? Baronda's Mixed Green Salad with Grapefruit and Warm Shrimp certainly looks good. So does the Seared Black Pepper Lavender Fillet of Beef from Café la Haye. The list is 300 recipes deep. One a day would take you through the better part of a year. And what a year that would be. --Schuyler Ingle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The San Francisco Chronicle's longtime restaurant critic gives readers the ultimate tour of the Bay Area restaurant scene in this chatty cookbook, which presents more than 300 recipes from top chefs who divulge the "secrets" behind their signature dishes. Peppered with restaurant and chef trivia, each recipe's preface reads like a mini restaurant review. Avid restaurant-goers and foodies will appreciate Bauer's discriminating palate as he deconstructs his favorite dishes for "breakfast, cocktails and everything in between." For example, for Gabriel Fregoso's (Las Camelias) Tequila Marinated Cornish Hens: "The hens get an explosion of flavor from marinating 24 hours in a mixture of water, ginger, onion, garlic and tequila." Geared specifically to home cooks, these succinct, clearly written recipes reflect San Francisco's diverse influences and tastes, from the culturally nuanced Tamarind Guava Barbecue Spareribs, Thai-Style Fried Quail and Seared Black Pepper Lavender Fillet of Beef to refined American diner standards such as Buttermilk Pancakes, Banana Cream Pie and the Best Hamburger (the secret is to use 18% fat chuck and salt it). For those who enjoy cooking and want to better understand the processAwithout investing a lifetime in the kitchenAthis compendium of culinary Cliffs Notes provides a fine alternative. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0811825027
  • ASIN: B000C4SMI6
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,439,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Too many collections of recipes from professional chefs prove disappointing in the home kitchen. In dramatic -- and delicious -- contrast, the five recipes I've tried so far from this book have all been major successes. The coq au vin recipe alone is worth the price of the book. Although I own hundreds of cookbooks, I return to a few favorites most of the time. This terrific new book has earned a place on my "favorites" shelf.
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Format: Paperback
I live in the Bay area and tried many of Michael Bauer's recipes in the San Francisco Chronicle before they came out in his cookbook. I couldn't wait for the book to be published so I'd have all the great recipes I'd tried in one place. I highly recommend the book for the following reasons: 1. The recipes are unique and creative. 2. The recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients easy to find. (Too often chef's recipes are far beyond a home cook's reach and capability.) 3. The tips for success included in each recipe help one become a better cook because they explain the reasons for the techniques being used. 4. The recipes are well tested and well worth the effort. 5. Michael is a great writer, which makes the book great reading. 6. Whenever I have friends over, I try a new recipe from the book and have never been disappointed.
This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys cooking and wants to serve delicious food. Secrets to Success solves the dilemma of "What am I going to make for dinner?" I have tried over half the recipes in the book and look forward to eating my way through the other half.
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Format: Paperback
A serious foodie that has been perfecting her cooking skills for the last 25 years in her home kitchen writes this review. My favorite cookbook is "The Professional Chef" by the Culinary Institute of America. I am also a cookbook collector, with more than 500 books in my cooking library. With the many books in my cookbook collection I find that I am frequently disappointed in my recent purchases. That was not the case with this purchase.

This book is one of those little gems that is full of tidbits of information that can make anyone a better cook. In the introduction the author shares what he refers to as the general truths that any home cook can use to make himself or herself a better cook. These are wonderful tips, and I will share them below:
1. Marinating and/or brining meat and vegetables makes a big difference in the final quality of a dish.
2. Using more than one method of cooking in the same dish. Example searing a chicken breast on the stovetop and then finishing it in the oven.
3. Swirl a little butter in the pan to finish a sauce just before plating.
4. Reduce, reduce, and reduce your sauces.
5. Finish your pasta in the sauce. A tip every Italian knows by heart.
6. Crank up the heat of the oven and on the stovetop.
7. Weighing ingredients is much more precise than measuring when baking.
8. Balancing flavors in critical.

The recipes in this book are amazing. If you have ever eaten in San Francisco you know how marvelous the food is in that town. This book takes the best of a real food town and puts it together in one book. I have enjoyed every recipe in this book that I have tried. Every recipe includes a little tip in a separate box that the author wants to highlight.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everything I've tried in this cookbook has been great. I lived in the Bay Area for quite a while and I miss many of the restaurants. This cookbook lets me enjoy some of the great food I had in San Francisco without buying a plane ticket.
Especially tasty have been: Pan-Seared Hailbut with Leek and Pernod Sauce, Pork Braised in Milk and Herbs, Garlic Chicken, and my all-time favorte rib recipe Baby Back Ribs with Ginger-Soy Glaze.
I've learned a lot from the recipes in this book. The "Secrets of Success" sidebars are really helpful. For example, I learned that cooking ribs three times -- steaming, baking, then grilling--makes the ribs incredbily tender and juicy.
I don't quite understand the other reviewers' objections to the ingredients. Is it really that hard to get items like saffron, Pernod, or soft goat cheese outside of major cities? This book's recipes don't require many ingredients more exotic than these. And yes, there is a recipe for tongue salad, but there are also over a dozen recipes for chicken.
This cookbook doesn't just sit on the shelf, I'm regularly trying new recipes and almost all of them have been successes. I might even try the Liver and Onions with Apples.
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Format: Paperback
For both business and pleasure, I am constantly eating out in San Francisco's finest. I swear by Michael's reviews in the Sunday Pink section. (I sometimes even bring the paper to the restaurant to remind me what to order). If I only had room for one cookbook, it would definitely be Secrets of Success. You can bet that I will be giving this book as Holiday gifts this year. I am looking forward to the sequal. Michael Bauer's book is Brilliant! If you haven't ordered your own copy yet, point and click.
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Originally from San Francisco, I was raised in the Bay Area with a solid appreciation of fine food. It's wonderful to live elsewhere now and continue to explore the many wonderful recipes available to me in this book featuring San Francisco's best chefs and restaurants. The recipes are easy to follow and taste sublime.
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