Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Happy Cooking

I've already mentioned that Jacques Pepin is my all-time favorite TV chef.  I love his wry sense of humor, his lightening-fast knife work, and the magical way he can transform traditional recipes into easier and healthier versions that still taste delicious.  I thought I had seen every PBS series he ever filmed (most of them more than once), but last week I discovered the companion book to a season of shows that I hadn't known existed.  Apparently they were from that period in the 1990's when I was working 70 hours a week and sometimes went for a month without ever turning on the television.

The book is Today's Gourmet: Light and Healthy Cooking for the 90's, and I like it so well that I'm going to buy a copy for myself.  The book starts with a chapter of menus for various occasions.  The central section consists of the recipes featured in the menus, arranged by courses.  The Postscripts section contains a wealth of nutritional information including a chart showing the calorie, protein, carbohydrate, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium counts for all of the recipes.  The food tends to be French inflected - poulet au pot, mussels with fries, creme caramel - but with a twist.  The Floating Island dessert is flavored with pistachio and served with blackcurrent sauce.  The Leek Soup is thickened with oatmeal.  Tabasco sauce enlivened several of the recipes.  The instructions are clear and simple, with helpful procedural notes in the sidebars and suggestions for ingredient substitutions, and the colored photographs throughout make the food look fabulous.

I was probably silly to check out a "food porn" book when I don't yet have a kitchen to try any of the recipes in, but Amazon.com has new copies available for $4.00 each, and if I order one now it will be here in time for the move to my new place (now scheduled for July 22, YAY!).  Even better, KQED recently announced that Jacques has just finished taping a new series called Essential Pepin that will air this fall.  More great food and amazing culinary technique - I can hardly wait!

“What shall we say of the hundreds of cooks who, for several centuries now, leave France every year to exploit the appetites of other lands?” ~Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), ‘The Physiology of Taste’ (1825)

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