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Bouchon Hardcover – November 15, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Bouchon, chef Thomas Keller's bistro cookbook, offers 180-plus recipes from his eponymous restaurants--there are two. Readers perusing the near-prosciutto-size book will be dazzled, first, by its great looks (there are many beautiful photos), then, perhaps, wonder why so many of its typically homey bistro dishes are so fussy to prepare. Why, for example, must the onions for onion soup be caramelized for five hours, or the muscles of a leg of lamb separated so that each can be cooked to an exact, presumably optimal, temperature.

They should, however, trust this justly celebrated chef, whose sometimes-painstaking refinements reflect a better way. Apart from the excellence of the dishes, the reason to own Bouchon is to discover the richness of Keller's technical understanding. Readers learn, for example, not to baste chicken while it roasts, which creates skin-softening moisture, and to allow the base for crème caramel to sit before baking, thus permitting its flavors to deepen. Keller's sensitivity to ingredients and their composition is profound; and he and his collaborators have presented it so deftly that one finds oneself engrossed again and again. Whether Keller is talking about vinaigrettes (in their balance of fat, acid, and saltines, the perfect sauce) vegetable glazing, or the creation of brown butter, his insights are fascinating.

The dishes cover a wide range of courses, and include the traditional--poule au pot, veal roast, pommes frites, and so on--and the "new," such as Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables, Skate with Fennel-Onion Confit and Tapenade Sauce, and Grandma Sheila's Cheesecake Tart with Huckleberries. All are, as the French might say, impeccable--and can be accomplished by anyone willing to take the time to do so. Like his cooking, Bouchon is a sui generis treat. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Keller's restaurant Bouchon, in Napa Valley, Calif., is modeled after Parisian bistros and serves simple yet sumptuous fare. This graceful ode to bistro cooking emphasizes that although in America, "bistro" is synonymous with "casual," the food is prepared with "precision of technique brought to bear on ordinary ingredients." Close-up photos of signature dishes are alluring, and several action shots of food preparation may help readers refine their techniques. The book's sections progress from "First Impressions" (hors d'oeuvres and more) to "Anytime" dishes (soups, salads, quiches) to appetizers, entrées and desserts. Thoughtful introductions to each recipe grouping explain Keller's experiences with the featured dishes; sidebars on everything from oil to onions provide insight and useful tidbits. A "Basics" chapter attempts to further demystify the foundations of bistro cooking (it's built on staples like confit, stock and aioli), and a "Sources" section directs readers to bistro-appropriate tools and specialty foods. Of course, as any chef knows, food is as much about experience, memory and emotion as it is about flavor and presentation. Especially bistro food, Keller says, which retains the "spirit of the original bistro, the spirit of embracing you... restoring you and making you happy." This appealing book promises to do the same. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan; First Edition edition (November 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579652395
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579652395
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 1.3 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Expectations for Thomas Keller's new book `Bouchon' are very high, and I firmly believe he has exceeded them. The book sets new standards for the foodie coffee table fare as well as confirming Keller's reputation as one of the country's foremost culinary artists. The book is larger, heavier, and better than his first cookbook on the cuisine of his flagship French Laundry. There are several things that make this an excellent book for all people who love to cook.

First, the book is a superior reference work of bistro dishes and how to prepare them. It is certainly not complete, but then I think no cookbook in the world will ever be a complete reference to any subject, as every culinary subject changes daily due to changes in provisions, historical research, and the enormous variety in how even one dish is made from place to place. For example, both `Bouchon' and Tony Bourdain's recent book on bistro recipes from Les Halle has five (5) dishes containing mussels, yet no two are the same dish. For all of the virtues of Bourdain's book, Keller's book is superior as a reference to the overall style of cooking if only because he and his editors rigorously give both French and English names to all dishes.

Second, as amazing as it is to say this, lots of dishes in `Bouchon' are actually easy to make. The initial roast chicken recipe is literally not much more complicated than carefully prepping the carcass and sticking it into the oven. Keller does not even baste the beast and it is done within an hour (for a 3-pound bird). And, all this with the cachet of making a Thomas Keller recipe. Almost all the salads and `openers' dishes are equally as simple, as long as you have high quality ingredients.
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Format: Hardcover
Keller's homage to simple French bistro fare (after "The French Laundry Cookbook") wins the knock-your-chef's-hat-off prize for stunning presentation. For starters, you need to lift this oversized 6.5 pound book with both hands. Open it at random and you're likely to land on a two-page close-up of ingredients or finished presentation, or maybe Keller demonstrating technique. The recipes also spread across two pages

"I used to joke that I opened Bouchon, styled after the bistros of Paris, so that I'd have a place to eat after cooking all night at the French Laundry." (his elegant white-tablecloth restaurant next door in the Napa Valley). In this book he emphasizes technique above all, and interspersed in each chapter (organized by course) are brief essays on "The importance of" the pig, brown butter, slow cooking, glazing and more. He also gives brand and tool recommendations and includes a list of sources.

This may be "homey" fare, but most home cooks aren't going to caramelize the onions for their onion soup for five hours and frogs legs and stuffed duck neck aren't likely to appear at many New England tables. There is a tantalizing little section on potted foods, including a Foie Gras Terrine and Rabbit Pâté and recipes for Duck Confit and Rabbit Confit are simple, time-consuming dishes to warm up a gloomy weekend.

Most of the fare is classic, traditional and inspiring. Like Boeuf Bourguignon (Braised Beef with Red Wine), or several versions of Roast Chicken, and Crepes with Chicken and Morels to use up the leftovers. Salads include Lentils Vinaigrette and Roasted Beet; among the side dishes are Macaroni Gratin and Gnocchi with Mushroom and Butternut Squash, and Desserts include Profiteroles and French Toast with Apricots.
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Format: Hardcover
Keller is known as one who is serious about the best in food, both ingredients and technique joining to provide the ultimate culinary experience. From firsthand experience I will attest that until one trys his approach personally, the suspicion of why all this extreme effort and care will not pay off. However, attestation can also be given to once invoked, this guy's skill and attention does pay off: I tried his unique Bliny recipe with huge payoff! Never going to use another nor purhase Bliny again.

Here he shifts from the French Laundry approach to one his favorite ways of dining, French bistro style. For him bistro is about technique, so he refines and refines the refinement to a high standard which is provided here in this large format recipe collection.

Keller teamed up with Jeff Corciello to form Bouchon, dedicated to the best in bistro. Their outpouring here is enhanced by the same high standards of publishing which gave us the French Laundry Cookbook, huge format with rich photographay and grand wordsmithing by Michael Ruhlman. This collaborative team produces a huge resource that is magnificent in its style and layout, easy to keep spread open and cook with.

The recipes exude the bistro style of few, usually plain ingredients prepared in tried and true technique, here enhanced by Keller and associates to the ultimate level of richness and taste explosion.

An example of this care of prep can be exhibited by one of my favorites here taken to heights: Roasted Beet Salad. His tips of selection and prep are key, and for best results should be adhered to: buy beets with tops attached, utilizing fresh squeezed OJ. This is sensuous salad, which I can vouch even non-beet lovers will!
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