The companion volume to the public television series Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home
Two legendary cooks, Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, invite us into their kitchen and show us the basics of good home cooking.
What makes this book unique is the richness of information they offer on every page, as they demonstrate techniques (on which they don’t always agree), discuss ingredients, improvise, balance flavors to round out a meal, and conjure up new dishes from leftovers. Center stage in these pages are carefully spelled-out recipes flanked by Julia’s comments and Jacques’s comments–the accumulated wisdom of a lifetime of honing their cooking skills. Nothing is written in stone, they imply. And that is one of the most important lessons for every good cook.
So sharpen your knives and join in the fun as you learn to make . . .
*–Appetizers–from traditional and instant grav-lax to your own sausage in brioche and a country pâté
*–Soups–from New England chicken chowder and onion soup gratinée to Mediterranean seafood stew and that creamy essence of mussels, billi-bi
*–Eggs–omelets and “tortillas”; scrambled, poached, and coddled eggs; eggs as a liaison for sauces and as the puffing power for soufflés
*–Salads and Sandwiches–basic green and near-Niçoise salads; a crusty round seafood-stuffed bread, a lobster roll, and a pan bagnat
*–Potatoes–baked, mashed, hash-browned, scalloped, souffléd, and French-fried
*–Vegetables–the favorites from artichokes to tomatoes, blanched, steamed, sautéed, braised, glazed, and gratinéed
*–Fish–familiar varieties whole and filleted (with step-by-step instructions for preparing your own), steamed en papillote, grilled, seared, roasted, and poached, plus a classic sole meunière and the essentials of lobster cookery
*–Poultry–the perfect roast chicken (Julia’s way and Jacques’s way); holiday turkey, Julia’s deconstructed and Jacques’s galantine; their two novel approaches to duck
*–Meat–the right technique for each cut of meat (along with lessons in cutting up), from steaks and hamburger to boeuf bourguignon and roast leg of lamb
*–Desserts–crème caramel, profiteroles, chocolate roulade, free-form apple tart–as you make them you’ll learn all the important building blocks for handling dough, cooking custards, preparing fillings and frostings
And much, much more . . .
Throughout this richly illustrated book you’ll see Julia’s and Jacques’s hands at work, and you’ll sense the pleasure the two are having cooking together, tasting, exchanging ideas, joshing with each other, and raising a glass to savor the fruits of their labor. Again and again they demonstrate that cooking is endlessly fascinating and challenging and, while ultimately personal, it is a joy to be shared.Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home is the companion volume to Julia Child and Jacques Pepin’s PBS series of the same name. The setup works like this: the two opinionated TV cooks confront different ingredients on each show, then make their way through to the finished dishes that make up a meal. The recipes reveal themselves along the way.
What’s most important here–and it shows up in the cookbook–is that there is no one way to cook. The point of the book isn’t to follow recipes, but to cook from the suggestions. And Julia and Jacques have many, many suggestions when it comes to home cooking in the French style. And many tips, for that matter.
Take chicken, for example. “Not everything I do with my roast chicken is necessarily scientific,” Julia says. “For instance, I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it–and, more important, I like to give it.” Julia sets her chicken on a V-rack in a roasting pan in a 425-degree oven that she then turns down to 350 after 15 minutes. Jacques roasts his bird at 425, on its side, right in the pan. “To me,” he says, “it’s very important to place the chicken on its side for all but 10 minutes of roasting.” After 25 minutes he turns his chicken over, careful not to tear the skin, and lowers the heat to 400. The bird finishes breast-side up for the last 15 to 20 minutes.
This book is divided into chapters on appetizers, soups, eggs, salads and sandwiches, potatoes, vegetables, fish, poultry, meats, and desserts. The she said-he said format works throughout, and a lot of what’s said you may realize you have heard before. There are no big surprises here. But it’s good fun, a decent reminder of some of the classics of French tradition, and a chance to loosen up and simply cook at home with a couple of masters–one to the right of you, one to the left. You decide which hamburger’s the right one for you. –Schuyler Ingle