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Amuse-Bouche: Little Bites Of Delight Before the Meal Begins Hardcover – October 22, 2002
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Many of the best restaurants tantalize diners' palates with charming, intensely flavored tastes that tickle the tongue and delight the eye. A tiny serving to whet the palate, an amuse-bouche (literally, "mouth amusement") sets diners up for what is to come. Rick Tramonto, executive chef of Chicago's widely acclaimed Tru restaurant, is well known for his passion for and commitment to these bite-size treats. In Amuse-Bouche: Little Bites That Delight Before the Meal Begins, he shares the art of creating these miniature delights. While most people won't find many occasions to serve amuse-bouche at home, the recipes are easily adapted to become passed hors d'oeuvres, first courses, or even main courses. From Chilled Fava Bean Soup with Seared Scallops, to Blue Cheese Foam with Port Wine Reduction, to Charred Lamb with Truffled Vinaigrette and Oven-Dried Tomatoes, this book offers something for every taste. Surprisingly, most of the dishes are exceedingly simple to prepare, often consisting of just four or five ingredients. As might be expected, the success of the recipes is dependent not so much on involved cooking techniques or complicated combinations of flavors but rather on the selection of a few high-quality ingredients. Creamy Corn Grits with Butternut Squash and Sweet Corn, for instance, starts with ever-so-humble beginnings to ultimately showcase the bright flavor of corn and the hearty sweetness of butternut squash. With more than a hundred clever and inspiring recipes, Amuse-Bouche will surely not fail to amuse. --Robin Donovan
From Publishers Weekly
Breaking new ground in a previously untackled area of cuisine, the executive chef of TRU restaurant in Chicago and coauthor with Gale Gand of Just a Bite, Tramonto (who also coauthored Butter, Flour, Sugar, Eggs), has paired up with Goodbody to explore the world of Amuse-Bouche, "Little bites of food to amuse the mouth, invigorate the palate, whet the appetite." To this end, the author has produced recipes designed to create a mouthful of delight, whether a spoonful of salad, an espresso cup of soup or a scoop of savory sorbet. Giving the book greater scope, Tramonto suggests that the dishes, such as the simple, flavorful Warm Onion Tart with Thyme, can be used as hors d'oeuvre, "so elusive is the line between." Many of the portions can be expanded or multiplied to form starters or a light main course. Other recipes given a new look are bean salad, which with the addition of curry oil becomes Curried Three Bean Salad, and Potato Salad, which is spiced with cayenne pepper. The recipes require a variety of skill levels and time, although there are always several suitable for all occasions and aptitudes.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Nonetheless, I absolutely love this cookbook and expect to use several recipes as standard "go to's". Why? First, because many are very seasonal, a trait I value. Because some are so simple but inspired, e.g. Watermelon Cube with Aged Balsamic Vinegar which uses watermelon juice, salt, watermelon and aged balsamic vinegar. The recipe could easily be adapted to use Aged Black Rice Vinegar for an Asian flare. Because some truly highlight the pleasures of underutilized ingredients such as kohlrabi, rutabaga, and Jerusalem artichokes. Because of the precision with which textures, flavors and visual elements are combined e.g. Sashimi of Fluke with Radish Salad and Chives which uses red, black and icicle radishes. Because ingredients I have gotten fixed on a single use for are used with familiar flavors but in a startling (to me) way e.g. Warm Truffled Oxtail Tartlets.
And, yes, some of the recipes can be scaled up to entree level e.g. Rick's Shooter of Duck Wonton with Duck Consomme or Soft Polenta with Forest Mushrooms with minor modifications to avoid overloading your palate. So despite the specificity of the recipes, the book also provides inspiration for your own riffs.
Really can't recommend it, since there are so many now available with lots of pictures.
In most of the recipes Rick gives ideas that accomplish the above and then some. An impressive amuse bouche may often be difficult to prepare and often more expensive than your first course. It is however a way to introduce some expensive ingredients into your dinner menu without breaking the bank. As far as I am concerned this is the only book out there on this subject that will become an invaluble resource for those of you who wishes to really impress.
It was disappointing that there was not a picture for every recipe. For something where presentation is part of the appeal I wanted to see how palatable and eye catching a recipe is when it's presented on a plate. There were pictures for less than 50% of the recipes and some of those were not the preparation presented in the recipe.
The best part was that there were recipes for literally every skill level... easy three ingredient five step recipes to ten ingredient twenty step recipes with three different pieces each with its own set of steps. And I would say the appeal of each of the recipes was in the same league regardless of difficulty.
This is not a comprehensive book by any means - there are two or three ideas in each section for each season - some seasons lending themselves better to one or the other category. There are three or four easy and three or four difficult recipes per category which means if you are trying to entertain in the summer and you are a beginner you have a choice of about five items, likewise if you are experienced and entertaining in the winter, etc. That said the book is really intended as a jumping off point for your own creativity.
Overall the book is definitely inspiring and should be a great reference even if I only ever use one or two of the recipes. I can highly recommend it as a starting point for creating your own one-bite-wonders.