Thursday, October 24, 2013

DANIEL: MY FRENCH CUISINE by Daniel Boulud, et al

A feast for the eyes and the palette Daniel: My French Cuisine is one of the most beautiful books extant.  Already the author of seven cookbooks this is his most personal to date.  His love for and expertise in French cuisine is evident in every photograph and on every page.
It is a book (coffee table size) to savor over and over again enjoying Boulud’s commentary and essays by Bill Burford who reminds us that with Boulud in the kitchen it is “cooking as gift giving.”  So, treat yourself.

The book is divided into four parts - the opening section presents the best recipes from restaurant Daniel (surely on most people’s bucket list if they have not already had the pleasure).  Many will be surprised by the accessibility of the recipes, each marked by clear directions allowing us to create these fabulous dishes in our own homes.

Next, we find delightful and informative recipes that Boulud has written on various subjects.  For instance, regarding season and spicing he says that is the first thing a young cook should learn.  His preference for salt is sel de mer from La Baleine and he is fond of piment d’Espelette, “a pepper from the French Basque area.”  Notations such as these appear frequently throughout the book and make an enormous difference in what you are preparing.

Bill Buford’s comments about his experiences in the kitchen with Boulud make up the third section.  These narratives are rich with insightful remarks, information and rollicking  humor.  The two joined in preparing some 12 iconic French dishes from Pot-au-Feu to Canard a la Presse to a chartreuse which takes three days to make and Burford describes as a “game-bird confection that looks like a joke birthday cake.”  Find the photo on p. 303 - it is absolutely gorgeous.

The final (and this reader’s favorite section) is composed of four seasonal menus created by Boulud and intended for casual evenings.  He uses recipes from his favorite French regions - Alsace, Normandy, Provence and his native Lyon.  From Alsace comes Wild Mushroom Tarte Flambee, from Provence Grand Atoli, and so it goes - each a gastronomic delight.  These are foods that Boulud serves to guests in his home.

Daniel: My French Cuisine holds 125 eye-popping photographs of Boulud’s food, his New York restaurant and his home kitchen.  It is a book for dreaming and dining.  Enjoy!

- Gail Cooke

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