Bistro Cooking at Home

ISBN 10: 0767912764 / ISBN 13: 9780767912761
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Synopsis: Bistro cooking—bold and full-flavored—is more like the best home cooking than restaurant fare, featuring slow-cooked stews, exquisitely roasted chickens, perfectly seared steaks, vibrant salads, fresh fruit tarts, and comforting custards. Now Gordon Hamersley of acclaimed Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston helps home cooks bring these classic dishes into their own kitchens.

Bistro Cooking at Home offers a complete menu of versatile selections for cooks who crave sophisticated but easy-to-prepare comfort food. Many of the dishes allow for “walk-away cooking,” such as stews, roasts, or braises. And many of these same dishes taste best if prepared a day or two ahead, making entertaining foolproof. Although the accent is French, dishes such as hamburgers stuffed with blue cheese and Pear Cranberry Crumble reflect Gordon Hamersley’s all-American roots.

Start a bistro meal at home with Hamersley’s classic Onion Soup au Gratin or signature Wild Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Sandwich. For a main course there is roast chicken (you can cook it ahead and reheat it under the broiler), New England Bouillabaisse with Rouille and Croutons, or Moroccan lamb shanks. Pasta, polenta, and risotto are given French finesse in dishes such as Lemon-Scented Risotto with Morels and Chives and Oven-Baked Penne with Onions, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese. The Savory Tarts, Gratins, and Galettes chapter holds such richly satisfying dishes as Portobello Mushroom and Roquefort Galette or Creamy Bistro Potato and Leek Gratin, each practically a meal in itself. Even vegetables are made exciting in dishes ranging from Roasted Artichokes with Garlic and Pancetta Bread Crumbs to Garlicky Mashed Potato Cakes. Bistro-inspired desserts include Maple Crème Brûlée, Profiteroles with Easy Chocolate Sauce, and a dense Chocolate Truffle Cake.

All the main dishes are accompanied by knowledgeable, down-to-earth wine recommendations from Fiona Hamersley, Gordon’s wife, who runs the wine service at the restaurant. With the Hamersleys’s expert guidance every step of the way, you can re-create the romance of bistro dining—at home.

Review: Gordon Hamersley's Bistro Cooking at Home makes a much-explored culinary style newly exciting. Hamersley, chef-owner of Hamersley's Bistro in Boston, has won praise for fare that, though straightforward, is often flubbed, due to poor ingredients and technique. Bistro Cooking repeats his success, providing 150 classic and innovative recipes for irresistible dishes like Tian of Summer Vegetables Provençale and Spicy Lamb Shanks with Couscous and Preserved Lemons. Immediately appealing--open the book to any recipe and you'll want to start cooking--the book also boasts cook-friendly asides like "How to Make a Great Vinaigrette."

The organization is equally enticing. Beginning with "The Art of the Salad," which includes a particularly good version of frisée salad with lardons and poached egg, and "Small Plates," like Wild Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Sandwich, the book then pursues savory tarts, gratins and galettes, such as Fresh Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet and Walnut Tart; starchy dishes including Crabmeat Risotto with Peas and Mint and bistro-style fish like the quick-and-easy Halibut with White Wine, Shallots and Basil. Meat and vegetables are equally well represented--there's a mini-repertoire of roast chicken and duck confit dishes--as are simple but "finished" desserts like Souffléed Lemon Custard and Chocolate Mousse Cake. With a useful section on techniques (moderate-temperature "walk away roasting" ensures juicer results, says the author), good pantry-stocking advice, and color photos that further excite kitchen action. --Arthur Boehm

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