- Hardcover: 704 pages
- Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Har/DVD edition (October 18, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547232799
- ISBN-13: 978-0547232799
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.9 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 498 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Essential Pépin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food Hardcover – October 18, 2011
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Fall into Cooking Featured Recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Essential Pepin
When the weather gets cooler in the fall, I make soup. I generally cook up a big batch and freeze some for whenever I need it. This one, with sausage, potatoes, and cabbage, is hearty and good for cold weather. It’s terrific served with thick slices of country bread, and if you have a salad as well, you’ve got a complete dinner.
Sausage, Potato, and Cabbage Soup
Ingredients8 ounces mild Italian sausage meat
2 small onions, cut into 1-inch-thick slices (1 ½ cups)
6 scallions, trimmed (leaving some green) and cut into ½-inch pieces (1¼ cups)
6 cups water
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
8 ounces savoy cabbage, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces (4 cups)
1¼ teaspoons salt
Crusty French bread
Break the sausage meat into 1-inch pieces and place it in a saucepan over high heat. Sauté, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to keep the meat from sticking, for 10 minutes, or until the sausage is well browned.
Add the onions and scallions and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the water, potatoes, cabbage, and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes.
Serve the soup in bowls with chunks of crusty French bread.Baker’s Wife Potatoes
This classic potato gratin is made in France in many places, as is the famous dauphinois gratin, which is made with cream, milk, and garlic. The dauphinois has many more calories than this one, which is flavorful and ideal with any type of roast, from a roast chicken to a leg of lamb.
The potatoes are sliced but not washed, which would cause them to lose the starch that binds the dish. A good chicken stock and a little white wine are added for acidity, and the gratin is flavored with thyme and bay leaves. It can be prepared ahead and even frozen.
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tablespoon peanut oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions (about 14 ounces)
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (3 tablespoons)
3 cups homemade chicken stock (page 612) or low-salt canned chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
3 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into ⅛-inch-thick slices.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. When it is hot, add the onions and sauté them for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, including the potatoes, mixing gently, and bring to a boil. Transfer the mixture to an 8-cup gratin dish.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until most of the moisture is absorbed and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve.Chicken Legs with Wine and Yams
I love both yams and sweet potatoes and use them in different ways, sometimes in soup, sometimes simply split in half and roasted in the oven. You can use either sweet potatoes or yams in this casserole, which also includes mushrooms, chicken, and wine. This is a great dish for company. It can be prepared ahead and reheated--which makes it even better.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole chicken legs (about 3 pounds total), skin removed, drumsticks and thighs separated
¼ cup chopped onion
4 large shallots (about 6 ounces), sliced (about 1½cups)
8 medium mushrooms (about 5 ounces), cleaned and halved
4 small yams or sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and halved lengthwise
1 cup dry white wine
8 large garlic cloves, crushed and chopped (2 tablespoons)
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken pieces in batches and sauté over medium-high heat until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
Add the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the shallots, mushrooms, yams or sweet potatoes, wine, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and boil very gently for 20 minutes.
Garnish with the parsley and serve.
--Edward Ash Millby for USA Today"...simple without being dumbed down; approachable yet still adventurous... Whether he's explaining how to make Escoffier quenelles with mushroom sauce, black sea bass gravlax...or tarte tatin, [Pepin] makes it seem doable and shares tidbits of wisdom to boost confidence and kitchen knowledge... For serious cooks and beginners alike, this is an instant classic that would enhance almost any collection."
-Publishers Weekly, starred"Jacques Pépin has been a constant inspiration to me. This book is a distillation of the very best of his creations, showing both the remarkable breadth of his cooking and the beautiful continuity of his dishes over the past sixty years. He makes food the way it should be made: Simple, seasonally ripe, pure, and impossible to resist."
—Alice Waters"Jacques Pepin is The Master. The undisputed authority on . . . well, just about everything relating to food. If Jacques Pepin tells you this is the way to make an omelet — or to roast a chicken, then for me, the matter is settled. As with all his works, this is a vital, essential volume that should live in your kitchen forever. Nobody knows more or does it better."
—Anthony Bourdain"If there's a 'best of the best' in cookbooks, this is it--a lifetime of greatest hits from our favorite ambassador of French cuisine. These recipes are more than just mouthwatering; they are as lively, unpretentious, and appealing as the man behind them, reminding us (as if we needed reminding) why we fell in love with French food, and with Jacques Pépin, in the first place. An essential collection from an essential chef."
—Dan Barber"Jacques Pepin is a true artist and a masterful one at that. His commitment to excellence and dedication to quality education are evident throughout his storied career. Essential Pepin reflects his incredible body of work in what feels like an important literary achievement, and we, his pupils, are ever so fortunate to benefit from the breadth of knowledge within its pages. I often find that with Jacques Pepin, whether in print or on television, I walk away from my time with him having learned a little something more, and I feel a bit richer for that."
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Virtually everyone knows the story of Julia Child, the American Girl who went to France and became a French chef. Not so many know the story of Jacques Pepin, the French Chef who came to America, and while I've been aware of Pepin and his story for decades, I've not often had the opportunity to see him in action other than with Julia Child, who truth be told often greatly overshadows Pepin's quiet competence. So, while I have a copy of every last thing Julia ever wrote, my collection is more than a bit lean when it comes to Pepin. (I'll be changing that!)
Julia came from a fairly well-to-do background. Money wasn't much of an object for her. Jacques was all of about 5 or 6 when World War II interfered very directly with his life. You'll find his story in The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. You will also find it directly reflected in the pages of Essential Pepin. Pepin comes from a generation that really took "Waste not, want not" to heart and he thinks of things that surprised even me - and I am a very thrifty soul in the kitchen. I must confess that while I lament every single time I use fresh peas throwing away half the weight in pod, it has never once occurred to me to use the pods for soup. It occurred to Pepin. You'll find his recipe for Pea Pod Soup on page 6. I could go on for paragraphs. Sure, there are two recipes in the book that use truffles but there are dozens that use the bits that many of us would simply heave into the compost bucket - all with wonderful results.
The single most valuable part of the book to me, however, is the DVD of Essential Techniques that comes with the book. Yes, Pepin starts out very simply showing you how to put on an apron. If you have ever had boiling water splash up onto your belly while draining pasta you won't laugh. Things get much more advanced from there quite rapidly. I've learned things from that disc I've wanted to know for years! Let me tell you about some of them . . .
* When I was younger than I am now roast beef was quite a common Sunday dinner and generally available in virtually any grocery, all neatly tied with butcher's string. If you were lucky you could even watch the butcher tie the roast for you. My grandfather knew how to do this and so did my Dad. I've watched them many times but somehow just never quite figured out how they made that neat little package with just one long piece of string! So, I've kept my eyes open through hundreds and hundreds of cooking shows and it seems to me like almost nobody else knows how to do that anymore. Certainly Julia Child didn't. If you've ever watched the video where she trusses a chicken to spit roast you will know exactly what I mean. These days everybody uses lots of little pieces of string. Well, Jacques Pepin DOES know how to turn out that neat package with one piece of string. His demonstration is clear, concise and if you are an old Girl Scout like me, who learned all sorts of knots once upon a time, you will shake your head in wonder that you didn't figure this oh-so-simple trick out for yourself long before now.
* I've cut up my own chicken for decades. I'm not sure my Dad would have let me out of the house to live on my own if I hadn't known how to do that. Somehow, though, I never did get much into cutting up other kinds of meat and I have to tell you, I've laid out quite some little bit of money over the years paying someone else premium prices for things like filet mignon that are, with a little help from Pepin, mere child's play. You need a sharp knife and a filet of beef, something that can often be had for a much more reasonable price than you would expect to pay for the 5 generous meals Pepin produces in a matter of minutes.
* Most of my life there have been 5 people for dinner. Five is a very awkward number if you want to divide a chicken evenly - until you learn Jacques' method for carving a roast chicken.
I am altogether delighted. Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food has a permanent home on my bookshelf next to my 3 most treasured cookbooks, the ones I would grab on the way out the door. I have my eye on the Jacques Pepin: The Essential Pepin DVD collection - and I'm hoping that before too long Jacques will put out an Essentials II with all the recipes that he eliminated when his editor made him cut the book in half!
PS Jacques has old eyes too. The book's type and so forth is perfect!
For starters, the book is made to be abused. A thick plastic cover that isn't destroyed when you wipe it clean. And every page is solidly stocked with recipes interspersed with sweet watercolor/drawings like cookbooks used to have. The complaints here over the lack of photos just don't apply as these dishes are so simple that any way they look when you finish them is probably exactly what they look like for everyone else. What happened to the time when people liked good food to look like it was made in an auberge and not a 5-star restaurant? What happened to the time when Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was just fine with no photos?
As for the DVD, it is PURE GOLD even if you never use a recipe. You want to know what it looks like to do basic things right, like truss a chicken with or without a needle, shuck an oyster or clam with minimal trouble, use up artichokes that are spoiling, make a caramel cage or angel hair nest for a dessert? Just watch the magnificent videos of a chef with rare confidence in every technique he demonstrates, as if it were as easy as folding a napkin.
Finally, the recipes -- everything from basic fish and chicken recipes to eggplant fritters or grilled rabbit to duck liver pate to escargot to blanquette de veau to dacquoise to cherry bread pudding. Tons of soups and vegetable dishes as well. Here I must mention that it has been on my mind for years that he had a Potagerie in midtown Manhattan but hadn't really revealed those recipes. I believe he has here.
Yet nothing prepared with a million steps, nothing explained in a complicated way, or even a pompous way (e.g., Cook's Illustrated) from a clear thinker who understands the big picture, as though he is the culmination of what Escoffier intended. To give you an idea, when I read Cook's Illustrated recipes I get the impression they are in a lab and they never get the room dirty. When I read this book, I can't wait to get to work and make a big mess!
In other words, a humble book by a great chef and teacher. Who doesn't need anyone to write a positive review, really, but look how many people can't resist -- it's just that good.