Wolfgang Puck Cookbook: Recipes from Spago, Chinois, and Points East and West

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9780679761259: Wolfgang Puck Cookbook: Recipes from Spago, Chinois, and Points East and West
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Wolfgang Puck is one of the world’s leading cooks and restauranteurs. The Wolfgang Puck Cookbook takes its inspiration from his famous Los Angeles restaurants Spago and Chinois on Main. Puck delights in blending the East with the West, creating innovative dishes inspired by the cuisines of France, Italy, and the Orient. Issued for the first time in paperback, the Wolfgang Puck Cookbook details over two hundred of the triumphant and wholly original creations that have earned Puck the acclaim of his fellow chefs:

Praise for Wolfgang Puck Cookbook

“It is a modern classic.”—Craig Claiborne
 
“The recipes in this book reveal the confident and exuberant palate of Wolfgang Puck. It is a rare person who is classically trained, yet free-spirited enough to successfully integrate a whole new world of delicious and inspired tastes.”—Alice Waters
 
“If I could have only one cookbook, this is the one I would want.”—Maida Heatter

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About the Author:

Wolfgang Puck is the chef and owner of a number of remarkable restaurants, including the famous Spago restaurants, Chinois on Main, Postrio, Granita, Trattoria del Lupo, and the Wolfgang Puck Cafes. He is the author of three previous cookbooks, including the ever popular Adventures in the Kitchen. He appears regularly on Good Morning America and the Home Shopping Network. Puck lives in Los Angeles with his wife and partner, Barbara Lazaroff, and their two sons.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction
 
The past few years will go down in history as the rebirth of American cooking. I speak of neither a fad nor a passing fancy, but rather the result of a culinary evolution. Decades ago, the general population did not think along the same lines as James Beard and other such visionaries. The French dominated the restaurant scene, and all else was looked down upon as second class. But time marches on, and change has brought us back to the food belonging to this land and its unique inhabitants. Past and present join forces as time-tested classics combine with new concepts and techniques. There are still some who laugh at this progressiveness, as they stand clutching their Escoffiers. Maybe they don’t change the water in their bathtubs for years at a time either!
 
That is not to say that a solid understanding of basics has become outdated. It is a necessary foundation for further creative development, much as it is in painting or music. But these branches of the arts are also continually moving into new areas. And as Picasso’s style became less complicated later in life, so has cuisine in America left behind the showing-off typical of youth, maturing to a greater simplicity. We have the security of knowing that this country’s resources are second to none and can stand on their own in preparations that expose natural character, instead of altering it so that you have to guess at what you’re eating.
 
One of the most dramatic of today’s food trends is the revival of regionalism. In the name of authenticity and absolute freshness, local products are being used whenever possible, as we learn to depend less and less on imported goods. Indigenous methods, too, are making a comeback. Mesquite grilling, a Southwestern technique employing the wood of a native plant, has made its way into a great many of the nation’s leading restaurants. Regional cooking, which started out on a very homey, modest level, has become the favorite of fashionable circles!
 
Another major breakthrough, whose originators were once thought to be crazy, is the mixing of ethnic cuisines. It is not at all uncommon to find raw fish listed next to tortillas on the same menu. Ethnic crossovers also occur when distinct elements meet in a single recipe. This country is, after all, a huge melting pot. Why should its cooking not illustrate the American transformation of diversity into unity?
 
All these principles come together in the philosophies of Spago and Chinois, my two playgrounds where I can excel at doing what I like best to do. Both are reflections of southern California, but in different ways. The feeling at Spago is American, with suggestions of Italy and southern France: visitors from these countries often tell us that we have captured the spirit of their homelands better than a lot of their own restaurants. The Spago client dictates whether the tone of the meal will be casual or elegant, whether it will be a night for pizza or for foie gras and Champagne.
 
Chinois, by contrast, is the modern application of dining in the Chinese manner, from my wife Barbara’s very original decor to the contemporary menu standards: all ingredients are fresh and locally purchased and no dried products, cornstarch, or MSG are ever seen in our kitchen. When Chinois first opened, people weren’t quite ready for it; they didn’t know what to think of a menu without moo shu pork or egg foo yung. Two years later, with the public not only accepting but demanding our of this cuisine, I predict that the Chinese themselves will be modernizing not too far in the future.
 
A change in our attitude toward dining out calls for high-quality food in a more relaxed ambience. However, the “ambience of the people” is more important than the furniture and decoration. People want to feel the presence of other people. Going to a restaurant has come to be regarded as a social event. The atmospheres of Spago and of Chinois promotes this sociability, in the lion-hearted informality of the background music and interior design, in the openness of the seating arrangements. The kitchens are open, too, located right out in the dining area, where you can watch what’s going on. We have nothing to hide!
 
How fortunate we all are to be part of such an adventurous age. No longer fearing to cross boundaries, the cook goes into unexplored territory without intimidation. You don’t need to be a Cordon Bleu graduate to do it. Think of cooking as an outlet for your ideas, a release for the artist in you. It took me nearly eight years to break away from the traditions of my European training and feel free to experiment with new ways. But you can start now. Your American heritage is a wonderful one. Let the world know you’re proud of it!
 
Appetizers, Salads and Soups
 
When our customers at Spago and Chinois walk through the front door, they are greeted by large, stunning floral arrangements, another aspect of my wife Barbara’s inspired restaurant design. To start the evening on such a note is to be filled with optimism for what lies ahead. How could dining not be heightened by the sight of such lovely bouquets?
 
In the same manner, the appetizer acts as a spectacular entrance into the meal. An eye-catching, colorful presentation is essential here. The dish should be well seasoned to excite and awaken the sense of taste. And the portion must not be too large; the object is to ready the palate for the next course, to leave you wanting more. Success at this stage can give your guests a positive feeling throughout the entire meal. I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of a good start.
 
To strive for a “symphony” of flavors between the appetizer and the entrée is to defeat the purpose of a first course. The transition should be one of clear contrast, which keeps things more interesting than similarity of main ingredients or sauces would. Actually, it is easier to achieve contrast, as there are so many ways to do it. Flavor is only one consideration. Temperature is another; a summertime meal that opens with a cold appetizer before a hot entrée is more welcome at that time of year than a succession of hot dishes. Heavy and light foods also work very well side by side; a rich appetizer can be placed before a clean, simple main course, and vice versa. Plan with these factors and others in mind, and it will be a dramatic, fascinating menu from beginning to end.
 
This chapter includes several soups and salads, since they are so often chosen as first courses nowadays. Soup is appropriate as a starter throughout the year, hot or cold. (Some of our recipes, as you will soon read, work well either way.) Salads cover a wider range than they used to, from the familiar mixed greens to complex arrangements with sautéed or grilled items and warm sauces. With so many possibilities to choose from, I sometimes find myself making an entire meal of appetizers. You enjoy more sensations with less food, and it’s something you can do even in better restaurants, where today’s movement away from a weighty diet is understood.
 
So whether you’re talking about a single first course or about a feast of appetizers, give this part of the menu lots of character. Make the food play a lively tune, and keep the tastebuds dancing.
 
FOIE GRAS WITH SAUTÉED APPLES
 
Serves 4
1 duck liver
2 small Granny Smith or Pippin apples juice of ½ lemon
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons almond or safflower oil
1 tablespoon flour salt freshly ground pepper
½ cup port
1 tablespoon green peppercorns, rinsed
1. Clean the livers of all nerves and vessels that may be attached. Cut them into ⅜-inch slices.
2. Peel and core the apples. Cut them into thin slices, about ¼-inch. Toss with the lemon juice and set aside.
3. Heat a sauté pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and sauté the apples until they are slightly browned but still slightly crunchy. Transfer the apples to a plate and keep warm.
4. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan with the oil. Season the liver slices with salt and pepper and dip them lightly in the flour. Sauté them over high heat for about 30 seconds on each side. The liver slices should be medium-rare, no more. (Sauté the livers in separate batches so that they are not crowded.) Transfer to a warm plate.
5. Deglaze the pan with the port, stir in the peppercorns, then reduce the sauce by one third. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Season to taste.
 
PRESENTATION: Divide the apples among the four warm appetizer plates. Top them with the liver slices and spoon the sauce over the top.
 
CHINOIS SPECIAL SCALLOPS
 
Serves 2
Yellow Tomato Relish
 
2 shallots
6 to 8 small yellow tomatoes
10 oba leaves (plum leaves)
1 red jalapeño pepper, seeds removed
2 -inch piece hothouse cucumber, peeled
1 -inch piece carrot
1 -inch piece daikon
1 -inch piece red bell pepper
¼ cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
 
Scallops
 
10 to 12 sea scallops
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced onion
½ teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper
peanut oil
salt
freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fine strips of daikon, carrot and red bell pepper, (store in ice water until ready to use, then shake off the excess water)
 
1. Prepare the relish: Cut all the ingredients into very fine cubes, ⅛ inch or smaller.
2. Combine the vegetables with the peanut oil, rice wine vinegar and lemon or lime juice. Add the soy sauce and sake and chill. This vinaigrette should have the consistency of a light relish with not much liquid.
3. Prepare the scallops: If necessary, remove the muscle—the small, white, rounded protuberance on the side of the scallops. They should be peeled off and discarded because they become like hard rubber when cooked and make the scallops unpleasant to eat.
4. Heat a small sauté pan. Add a little peanut oil and in it sauté the garlic, ginger, onion, and pepper for a few seconds over high heat to release the flavors. Remove from the heat.
5. Spread a little of the sautéed mixture on the top of each scallop, then sprinkle the scallops with a little salt and pepper.
6. Heat a medium sauté pan. Add peanut oil to coat the bottom of the pan. In it sauté the scallops over high heat for 30 to 40 seconds on each side, just until they are springy to the touch. Do not overcook.
 
PRESENTATION: Nap the plates with the relish. Place the scallops attractively on top. Garnish with a small nest of the fine strips of daikon, carrot and red bell pepper.

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