Food writer and recipe tester Linda Avery reviews cookbooks.
Facts: Grand Central Life & Style, 416 pages, $60.00 (or Amazon Hardcover $36.00)
Photos: Scads - oodles - zillions — at least one per recipe
Recipes: Think 416 pages worth
Give to: This is a holiday gift for any foodie
When I opened Daniel: My French Cuisine I immediately thought of Hubert Keller’s Souvenirs cookbook.
Old photos and new of family and colleagues at special occasions and in the kitchen, the same quality of the content, and the mention of Roger Vergé, the Troisgros brothers, and Paul Bocuse – those Lyonnais are a tight group.
Paul Bocuse was honored to write the preface and predicts that this book “is sure to become a reference for tomorrow’s chefs”.
It could easily be intimidating (a hefty tome at over five pounds) but Daniel Boulud isn’t one to shrink from a task. Wanting to give his readers comfort, he begins with “How to Use This Book” : the recipes are the same as in the restaurant but scaled down, "only slightly altered (for) home kitchens’ capacities” and a list confirming what some would presume unless otherwise noted e.g. eggs: large, flour: all-purpose, milk: whole, olive-oil: always extra-virgin, etc. etc. etc. plus a tool guide, sources for tools and ingredients, glossary of culinary terms and basic recipes... it's all there.
Daniel (the book) classifies recipes in three parts: Recipes from Restaurant Daniel, Iconic Sessions, and Daniel at Home. Of course the restaurant recipes are the most complex but the photography pulls you in and soon you’re thinking not that it will be profoundly difficult but where can you source the ingredients.
In this section the Frog Leg Soupe en Croûte VGE caught my attention. VGE? Turns out it is Boulud is paying homage to Paul Bocuse. In 1975, Bocuse was declared knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour by French president Valerie Giscard d’Estaing. For the occasion Bocuse created a soupe en croûte adding the initials of the president: Truffle Soup V.G.E. (Google "Bocuse soupe VGE" and click on images - the presentation is "ooh la la").
Iconic Sessions is a unique section which holds “laborious, traditional” recipes from years gone by such as Turbot Soufflé, Jamon au Foin (literally “leg in hay” but it’s actually ham) and Canard à la Presse. Rather than presenting these as conventional recipes, Boulud challenged Bill Buford to write a narrative of the 18 day experience making over two dozen recipes which are pared to about half in the book.
There's no ingredient list or method but the telling of producing these dishes by this witty author is almost better. It is a fresh, creative, entertaining approach. You don’t miss having the recipe(s) after reading the essays but you will be exhausted and it’s clear from the photos that each recipe in Iconic Sessions requires at least four cooks in the kitchen.
Daniel at Home allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. Three and four recipe menus from Alsace, Normandy, Provence, and Lyon are in this section. There’s nothing dumbed down about the recipes. These are what Boulud cooks for friends – he called them “soulful” menus.
I wish I could share all of the (insert descriptive — mouth watering is overused) photos. The book is lovely, I feel like a better cook just having it. It will be on the top of many holiday gift lists. This recipe, from the "at home" section, is from Alsace. The menu also includes Wild Mushroom Tarte Flambée, Root Vegetable Baeckeoffe, and Kougelhopf.
For the Barley-Mustard Crust (makes extra)
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup fine white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons mustard seeds, soaked in water overnight
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
Freshly ground white pepper
For the Pork Rack
3/4 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard seeds, soaked in water overnight
3/4 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
6 sprigs sage
8 sprigs thyme
4 bay leaves, torn
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 (6-rib) pork rack (about 8 pounds), Frenched and tied
1 (12-ounce) bottle amber ale (such as Fischer's Biere D'Alsace)
Freshly ground white pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons butter
8 large green cabbage leaves, remaining head reserved for the baeckeoffe
1/4 cup grated fresh horseradish
Make the barley-mustard crust
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Rinse the barley with cold water until it runs clear. Place in a medium ovenproof saucepan with the stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
2. Bring to a simmer, cover, and bake for 35 minutes. Remove, rest for 10 minutes, and fluff with a fork. Transfer the barley to a tray, spread into a thin layer, and chill uncovered in the refrigerator.
3. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the butter until creamy. Add the cooled barley, the breadcrumbs, mustard seeds, mustard powder, Dijon mustard, and grainy mustard and season with salt and pepper; mix just until combined.
4. Scrape the butter onto a sheet of parchment paper, set another paper on top, and roll into a 1/8-inch-thick sheet. Refrigerate until firm, or for up to 3 days.
Make the pork rack
1. In a large saucepan, simmer 2 1/4 cups water with 2 1/4 tablespoons salt and the brown sugar until dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the mustard seeds, cracked peppercorns, and half of the sage, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic; allow to cool. Place the pork in a 2-gallon resealable bag and pour in the water-spice mixture and the beer. Seal and marinate refrigerated for 48 hours, turning the pork 4 times.
2. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Remove the pork from the marinade, scrape off any herbs or spices stuck to the meat, and pat dry. Season on all sides with white pepper. If desired, wrap the bones with aluminum foil to prevent browning.
3. Heat the oil in a roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 8 minutes total. While searing, baste often with the oil from the pan, especially in the areas around the bones. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the remaining sage, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Continue turning and basting for 3 minutes.
4. Transfer to the oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 130°F, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the cabbage leaves until tender, about 4 minutes. Strain off the water and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Toss with the horseradish to heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Remove the pork and increase the oven temperature to broil. Remove the barley crust from the refrigerator. Press the crust onto the meaty side of the pork and trim any over-hanging edges if needed. Broil the pork for about 5 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
7. Arrange the cabbage on a serving tray and set the roasted pork rack on top.