THE BOOK AND THE AUTHOR: "Daniel Boulud's Cafe Boulud Cookbook," by Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan. Daniel Boulud has been a major player on the New York restaurant scene since the mid-'80s, when he ran the kitchen at Le Cirque. Currently chef-owner of two highly acclaimed Manhattan restaurants, Daniel and the newer Cafe Boulud, the 44-year-old self-described "French American" chef has written a book that reflects his unique culinary journey (he spent the first 15 years of his career in France and the second 15 in the United States). Determined to make this book accessible to the American home cook, Boulud had every recipe tested by both Greenspan, the author of five cookbooks including "Baking With Julia" (with Julia Child), and the chefs at his restaurants (Scribner, $35).
FORMAT: Like the gutsy dishes on the menu at the Cafe Boulud, the recipes in the cookbook are organized in four categories: traditional, seasonal, foreign and vegetarian. Each category features intensely flavored soups, starters, main courses and desserts. There is also a section of Boulud's "base" recipes (stocks, pastry creams and crusts, tomato confit, mustard vinaigrette) that many of the other recipes refer to. There are about 170 recipes, many with multiple procedures. Color photographs are useful guides.
WHO WOULD USE THIS BOOK: No doubt about it: This is a serious cookbook, and serious home cooks--or at least people willing to prepare multistage recipes--will probably profit the most from it. (After all, not everybody wants to emulate top-quality restaurant food.) However, step by step the recipes are not difficult, the instructions are clear, and the results can be spectacular.
Scallops on Crushed Potatoes,
Anytime you see "charcuterie" or "charcutier(e)" on a menu, you're going to find something with pork. Charcuterie refers to the sausages, bacon, pates and terrines that the charcutier makes from pork. Here, I use a sauce charcutiere that would normally be served with pork, but I allow plump, naturally sweet American sea scallops and potatoes, another naturally sweet ingredient, to stand in for the pork and to stand up to the robust sauce.
To drink: A Montlouis Sec from France's Loire Valley
For the potatoes:
Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
2 pounds baking (russet) potatoes, unpeeled
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 shallots, minced, rinsed and dried
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
For the scallops:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
12 to 16 large sea scallops (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Flour for dredging
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 ounce boiled ham, cut into matchstick-size pieces
2 cornichons (bottled French gherkin pickles), cut into matchstick-size pieces
For the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In an ovenproof saute pan, skillet or baking pan large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer, spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer of salt. Arrange the potatoes in the pan and roast in the preheated oven until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a plate; set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a simmer.
Cut the potatoes in half. Using a spoon, scoop the potato from the peels and transfer the flesh to a heatproof bowl; reserve the skins for another use. Add the butter, shallots and parsley and crush with the spoon. (Don't be overzealous--these are meant to be coarsely crushed and pleasantly lumpy.) Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and carefully set the bowl over the simmering water so that the bowl does not touch the water. Keep the potatoes warm over very low heat while you cook the scallops.
For the scallops: In a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil.
Season the scallops with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge them in the flour, shaking off any excess. Add the scallops to the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan, reduce the heat to low and heat the scallops until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the scallops to a warm plate; set aside.
Place the pan with the oil-butter mixture over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the vinegar and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan constantly, until the liquid evaporates. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the scallops and any juices that may have accumulated on the plate to the pan and cook just until the scallops are warmed through. Add the ham and cornichons, toss to coat and remove the pan from the heat. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into the sauce.
To serve, spoon the potatoes onto the center of a warm serving platter and arrange the scallops on top. Spoon the sauce over the top and serve immediately.
Per serving: 732 calories, 38 gm protein, 55 gm carbohydrates, 41 gm fat, 170 mg cholesterol, 22 gm saturated fat, 563 mg sodium, 4 gm dietary fiber
Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine
I'm an old-fashioned guy when it comes to short ribs. I like them cooked, as they are here, the way they were cooked when I was a kid in France. I give the ribs a traditional base of aromatics--garlic, shallots, carrots, celery and leeks--toss in fresh herbs, and braise them slowly in a mixture of stock and red wine. The success of this dish depends on browning the meat well at the start and tending the meat during its braising time--to get the best flavor from the sauce, you need to be diligent about skimming off the fat that rises to the surface. This is a good dish to plan a party around because it takes nicely to being made ahead: Do the cooking one day, reheat the dish the next.
To drink: A young, brawny Medoc, such as a Pauillac or a Saint-Julien.
Three 750-milliliter bottles dry red wine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 short ribs, visible fat trimmed
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
About 2 tablespoons flour
10 cloves garlic, peeled
8 large shallots, peeled, halved, rinsed and dried
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium leek, white and green parts, coarsely chopped, washed and dried
6 sprigs Italian parsley
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
12 cups unsalted beef stock or low-sodium beef broth
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, bring the wine to a boil. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, which may take as long as an hour. Remove from the heat; set aside.
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a Dutch oven or large casserole dish over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Season the ribs with salt to taste and the crushed peppercorns. Coat half of the ribs with about 1 tablespoon of the flour. Transfer the ribs to the pot and sear until well-browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the browned ribs to a plate, dust the remaining ribs with the remaining 1 tablespoon of the flour, and repeat the browning.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of drippings from the pot, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, shallots, carrots, celery, leek, parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Toss to coat with the drippings and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Add the reduced wine, browned ribs and beef stock or broth to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Braise until the ribs are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork, about 2 1/2 hours. Every 30 minutes or so, remove the lid and skim and discard whatever fat may have bubbled to the surface. (May prepare to this point up to 1 day in advance. In fact, it's best to make the recipe up to this point, cool and chill the ribs and stock in the pan overnight, and then scrape off the fat. Rewarm before continuing.)
Carefully transfer the meat to a heated rimmed serving platter; be careful as the meat will easily fall from the bone. Cover and set aside to keep warm.
Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the pan juices to a boil. Cook until the liquid thickens slightly and is reduced to about 4 cups. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Strain; discard the solids. (The ribs and sauce can be combined and kept covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Reheat gently, basting frequently, on top of the stove or in a 350-degree oven.)
To serve, pour the sauce over the meat.
Per serving: 626 calories, 48 gm protein, 14 gm carbohydrates, 22 gm fat, 98 mg cholesterol, 9 gm saturated fat, 407 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber
Cremini and Fontini Tart
I had quiche on my mind when I created this tart for the debut menu at Cafe Boulud. I wanted the custardy texture of quiche, but more complexity. I was after a certain roastedness that I was able to build into the recipe by caramelizing the onions to make a confit, or compote, that I layered into the tart. Then, still thinking quiche, I replaced the traditional ham with thick slices of firm cremini and had rich, buttery Italian Fontina cheese stand in for the more expected Gruyere, a wonderful cheese, but one that would have been too sharp and nutty for this tart.
To drink: A toasty, nutty, rich white wine, such as a Chassagne-Montrachet.
For the crust:
1 unbaked 9 1/2-inch Pate Brisee tart shell in a fluted tart pan, chilled (recipe follows)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
For the filling:
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 sprig thyme
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 large onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 large shallot, peeled, minced, rinsed and dried
2 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 pound fontina cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
For the crust: Arrange the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Fit a parchment paper round into the bottom and up the sides of the crust and fill with dried beans or rice to weight the crust. Bake the crust for 18 to 20 minutes, remove the paper and beans, and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Brush the inside of the tart with the egg white and bake for just 1 minute longer. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool to room temperature. (The crust will keep at room temperature for up to 8 hours.)
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tart pan on the sheet.
In a saute pan or skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Crush 1 of the garlic cloves and add it to the pan with the mushrooms and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender and just lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic and thyme. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl; set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, toss the onion with the sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
In the same pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion mixture to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until the vinegar evaporates completely. Remove the pan from the heat.
Peel the remaining clove of garlic, cut in half, remove and discard the germ and mince the garlic. In a small saute pan or skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the garlic, shallot and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic and shallot are softened but not colored, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, toss the garlic-shallot mixture with 1/4 of the mushroom mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender, add the eggs and cream and puree until smooth. (Do not overprocess this mixture; you don't want to thicken the cream.)
Pour half of the cream mixture into the crust. Arrange the remaining mushrooms in an even layer over the cream, being careful to leave behind any juices that may have accumulated in the bowl. Top with the caramelized onions, again leaving any liquid in the bowl. Sprinkle with the fontina cheese. Pour enough of the remaining cream mixture over the cheese to reach the rim of the crust; there may be some cream left over. Sprinkle the tart with the Parmesan cheese. Carefully slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the custard is set. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.
Per serving: 502 calories, 12 gm protein, 30 gm carbohydrates, 38 gm fat, 117 mg cholesterol, 10 gm saturated fat, 494 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber
(Makes a 9 1/2-inch tart)
This is the tart dough from which all other tart doughs in the French repertoire come. It is the basic nonsweet dough used for quiches and savory tarts. Quickly made in the food processor, once chilled (as all pastry doughs must be), it is remarkably easy to roll out--making it an ideal dough for pastry neophytes.
From the Base Recipes chapter.
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus additional for the work surface
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, plus additional for the pan
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the flour, butter and salt and pulse until the ingredients are crumbly. Add the egg and continue to pulse until the mixture forms moist curds. Do not overprocess the dough; it should not form a ball.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, if necessary, knead slightly to pull the dough together. Flatten it into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour. (May be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
Butter a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a tart ring. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tart pan on the baking sheet. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, dust lightly with flour and roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick, carefully lifting the dough from the work surface occasionally to make certain that it's not sticking. If necessary, dust the dough with additional flour.
Carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin or fold the dough in half or quarters and transfer it to the prepared pan. Fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, being careful not to stretch the dough as you work or it will shrink during baking; the excess dough will hang over the sides of the pan. Run the rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim the excess dough. If the recipe specifies, using the tines of a fork, prick the dough. If the dough cracks, use the scraps to fill the cracks. Refrigerate the tart shell for at least 30 minutes prior to baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper into the bottom and up the sides of the crust and fill with dried beans or rice to weight the crust. To partially bake the crust, bake for 18 to 20 minutes, remove the paper and beans and bake for 3 to 5 minutes more, or until lightly colored. To fully bake the crust, after removing the parchment paper, bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden. Transfer the crust to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.