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Essential Pepin [Hardcover]

Jacques Pépin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Jan 2012
In his more than sixty years as a chef, Jacques Pepin has earned a reputation as a champion of simplicity. His recipes are classics. They find the shortest, surest route to flavour, avoiding complicated techniques. Now, in a book that celebrates his life in food, the world's most famous cooking teacher selects his favourite recipes from the thousands he has created, streamlining them even further. They include Onion Soup Lyonnaise-Style, which Jacques enjoyed as a young chef while bar-crawling in Paris; Linguine with Clam Sauce and Vegetables, a frequent dinner chez Jacques; Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Butter, which he makes indoors in winter and outdoors in summer; Five-Peppercorn Steak, his spin on a bistro classic; Meme's Apple Tart, which his mother made every day in her Lyon restaurant; and, Warm Chocolate Fondue Souffle, part cake, part pudding, part souffle, and pure bliss. "Essential Pepin" spans the many styles of Jacques' cooking: homey country French, haute cuisine, fast food Jacques-style, and fresh contemporary American dishes. Many of the recipes are globally inspired, from Mexico, across Europe, or the Far East.

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Essential Pepin + Jacques Pepin's New Complete Techniques: Revised Edition of the Classic Work + Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Har/DVD edition (13 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547232799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547232799
  • Product Dimensions: 25.7 x 21.3 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 458,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"One of the great cookbook masters of the world, Pepin has published 26 volumes of recipes (including one with Julia Child) In this, which might be considered his opus, he offers more than 700 of his best French and French-accented dishes from decades of cooking and teaching" (Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)"

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dude 28 Aug 2013
By El Rev
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jacques Pépin is a god. We are not worthy to hear His Wisdom. This book is a treasure of well-written recipes that are practical and achievable.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Pepin 13 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jacques Pepin is the best!
We watch his TV programs and now to have him in our home is fantastic!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  283 reviews
145 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore all these pre-published copy reviews! 28 Dec 2011
By jumpy1 - Published on
I am amazed to see how many people had the nerve to review this book on advance copy without even using the book or viewing the DVD! It is making me very suspicious of the Amazon Vine program and now all reviews on Amazon. I received this book as a gift, I did not intend to buy it. I didn't intend to buy it because I have Pepin's Complete Techniques, Fast Food My Way, Sweet Simplicity, his memoir and I don't know what else in my collection of over 450 cookbooks. I mean, do I need another one? I didn't think so. Well, I was wrong, wrong, wrong!

For starters, the book is made to be abused. A thick plastic cover that isn't destroyed when you wipe it clean. And every page is solidly stocked with recipes interspersed with sweet watercolor/drawings like cookbooks used to have. The complaints here over the lack of photos just don't apply as these dishes are so simple that any way they look when you finish them is probably exactly what they look like for everyone else. What happened to the time when people liked good food to look like it was made in an auberge and not a 5-star restaurant? What happened to the time when Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was just fine with no photos?

As for the DVD, it is PURE GOLD even if you never use a recipe. You want to know what it looks like to do basic things right, like truss a chicken with or without a needle, shuck an oyster or clam with minimal trouble, use up artichokes that are spoiling, make a caramel cage or angel hair nest for a dessert? Just watch the magnificent videos of a chef with rare confidence in every technique he demonstrates, as if it were as easy as folding a napkin.

Finally, the recipes -- everything from basic fish and chicken recipes to eggplant fritters or grilled rabbit to duck liver pate to escargot to blanquette de veau to dacquoise to cherry bread pudding. Tons of soups and vegetable dishes as well. Here I must mention that it has been on my mind for years that he had a Potagerie in midtown Manhattan but hadn't really revealed those recipes. I believe he has here.

Yet nothing prepared with a million steps, nothing explained in a complicated way, or even a pompous way (e.g., Cook's Illustrated) from a clear thinker who understands the big picture, as though he is the culmination of what Escoffier intended. To give you an idea, when I read Cook's Illustrated recipes I get the impression they are in a lab and they never get the room dirty. When I read this book, I can't wait to get to work and make a big mess!

In other words, a humble book by a great chef and teacher. Who doesn't need anyone to write a positive review, really, but look how many people can't resist -- it's just that good.
182 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Formidable! 3 Sep 2011
By ringo - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Cookbooks are a hard sell these days. If you want a recipe, you can get 20 versions on Epicurious, or use google and get thousands. If you want to see a technique demonstrated, youtube probably has it. So what would impel anybody to actually pay for a cookbook? In one word - Wisdom.

This tome (and it is, a tome) is a collection gleaned from Pepin's lifetime as a chef, (somewhat) updated to accommodate modern sensibilities. It has a remarkable range, from dorm food (pita pizza? really?) to roast goose with all the trimmings, to home-cured ham (cooking time - 8 months). It also has notable breadth, including not only things we Americans expect from a French cook (frogs legs, croissants, cassoulet), but also Asian soups, Indian relishes, and other dishes that have found their way into the US diet. (I was tickled to find my grandmother's schav recipe on the first page. Using chicken stock and sweet cream instead of scallion broth and sour, but still). Most of the recipes rely entirely on fresh ingredients (Tabasco sauce and such being the exceptions), but there are notes about potential substitutions (using canned stock for fresh, for example).

What makes this all worth it, however, is is the tidbits of knowledge larded throughout: "Moisten your hands before rolling out the meatballs," "You can double the dressing recipe - it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks," "Don't worry if some of the stuffing is visible - it will not leak out," "You can make this ahead and reheat it, but add the peas at the last minute so they won't lose their color." And so on. This, coupled with the advice on techniques, brings the recipes out of the realm of "scarey French food" and into the realm of "totally doable." (People familiar with the Julia and Jacques series may recognize the philosophy). Pepin isn't so much lecturing, as looking over your shoulder while you cook.

There are no food-porn photos of glistening and steaming finished dishes, just occasional simple drawings reminiscent of those in the Joy of Cooking, or James Beard's books. All good - they would just have gotten spattered with melted butter anyway. This book will be living in the kitchen, not on the coffee table.

If I had to find something to complain about, it would be in some of the recipe names - the recipe for "cucumber-yogurt relish," for example, notes that it is "often served as an accompaniment to hot dishes in Indian cooking," but doesn't call it Raita. We know what that is. (Hopefully the index will have a cross-reference, but my advance copy did not have the index yet). There are also shaded boxes highlighting various techniques, which is wonderful ("how to bone a chicken," "artichoke hearts - basic techniques," "safety considerations with salami and ham," etc.), but some worthy advice is not set off in shaded boxes, and some of the boxes contain things like "alternate recipes," which is interesting, but not what I'm going to flip through looking for. Again, I have an advance copy, so some of this might change.

I didn't get the DVD, so I can't comment on that, though if I should somehow obtain one I will update my review (ahem). Even without the DVD, however, this cookbook is recommended.

(Oh, and for people trying to decide between this and Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques- there is some overlap, but this book is more chatty and home-cooking oriented, while that one cares more about presentation and garnish. I'm also quite sure the DVD will be easier to follow than the photos in the earlier book. If you can find a good price for the paperback, however, it's worth owning both.)
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice DVD (detailed review/contents), Great Recipes (Frugal too), but NO Pictures 19 Oct 2011
By Mayflower Girl - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Chef Pepin for 20+ years. I remember first learning to cook watching his show, "Cooking with Claudine" (his daughter) on PBS. I've owned a few of his cookbooks, and have always had great success with his recipes. I honestly wasn't sure how to rate this book. The recipes are excellent, 5 stars in breadth and content, but the lack of pictures is a serious flaw. The DVD is great for learning basic techniques--but does it make up for not one single picture in the actual book?? I don't know. Without the DVD, three stars. The lack of pictures is a serious problem. I added another star for the inclusion of the DVD, because even though these are basic techniques--it's a great tool. Plus there are more videos on the publisher's website.

This is a massive cookbook. Recipes on everything one could imagine--even offal (brains, tripe, etc. But what's glaringly absent are pictures. There's not one picture of one completed dish in the book. Why? Many people choose recipes with their eyes. I'm not such a good cook that I could judge whether or not I want to make something just by reading the ingredients. I can't understand this glaring omission as the other cookbooks I've owned of his had all had great food photography. This is all the more a glaring omission as when I bought this book, I also bought The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria which not only features pictures of each and every dish--but also pictures of each and every step in cooking the dish! Still, I love Chef Pepin's introductory blurbs with each recipe. They do, on some level, make up for the lack of pictures as they draw you in... make you want to try it, experience this recipe.

The full line up of contents are (as there was no preview when I bought it):
Eggs and Cheese
Pasta, Rice, Grains, and Potatoes
Breads, Sandwiches and Pizzas
Shellfish and Fish
Poultry and Game
Charcuterie and Offal
Vegetables and Side Dishes
Fruit Desserts
Puddings, Sweet Souffles and Crepes
Cakes, Cookies, and Candies
Tarts, Pies, and Pastries
Frozen Desserts
Basics (Seasonings, Stocks, Sauces, Butters, and Oils, Relishes and Pickles, and Drinks)

One of the best chapters (IMHO)is on fruit desserts. I've never seen such great variety. Our family loves to have fruit based desserts (lessens the guilt;)), so this has been a godsend. From a simple baked apple, to apple and banana fritters, banana bread pudding, and one of our simple favorites favorites... fruit (blueberries although we've used bananas too), greek yogurt, and brown sugar. That's the beauty of so many of Chef Pepin's recipes...they're simple and delicious. One thing to point out is that some people may assume French food=expensive food...based on what restaurants charge. In reality, this cookbook is frugal cooking at its best. Chef Pepin often gives you options on how to change a dish around (turning a white bean/chicken dish into a cassoulet, for example), freeze things, or use a cheaper/more economical ingredient. Many of us recipes are quick and easy--such as a few recipes for great pita pizzas--no need to make pizza dough--or sandwiches. The variety is just amazing.

The DVD comes in this weird envelop thing that you have to rip out of the book to open. Once you tear open the plastic on the back, you can get into it--but you're going to want to put it in a good case. You can see more video demonstrations at the publisher's website. There are basic techniques given for each of the major categories of recipes, along with some more advanced techniques:

Basics: how to tie an apron (really), sharpening a knife, knife skills, sauteing like a chef, grinding and crushing peppercorns, opening wine and champagne, making butter roses, cutting parchment paper

Vegetables: peeling, crushing, chopping garlic; peeling a carrot; washing leeks; peeling and trimming asparagus; shelling peas and fava beans; trimming corn; peeling broccoli; cleaning spinach; prepping artichokes; peeling peppers; peeling tomatoes, making tomato roses; cutting potatoes

Fruit: peeling, coring, and slicing apples; removing the seeds from a pomegranate; peeling and julienning orange skin, segmenting an orange; cutting lemons

Eggs: separating eggs; making mayonnaise; cooked eggs; cooking and unmolding an egg cocotte; deep frying an egg; a classic omelet

Fish and Shellfish: shucking oysters and clams; cleaning calimari; peeling and cleaning shrimp; killing a live lobster, removing the meat from a cooked lobster; scaling a fish; boning, cutting, and serving salmon; boning monkfish and black bass; cleaning sole and boning a cooked sole

Poultry and Meat: trussing a chicken; cutting up a chicken for stew, boned wings, lollipops, boned legs; cutting and boning a chicken for galatine; carving a roasted chicken; cleaning and cutting a beef filet; cutting & grilling NY strip steak; preparing sausage and cooking in a circulator; cleaning, boning & dividing a leg of lamb; skinning and skewering lamb kidneys; and cleaning and cutting a rabbit.

Stock and Consomme: skimming chicken stock, clarifying stock: consomme

Breads: Forming and making breads: baguette, gros pain, and epi; making melba toast

Desserts: making crepes; making, forming, and rolling pie dough; making, rolling, and forming sweet dough; making and working with puff pastry; making and piping meringue; cutting a genoise; chocolate-covered leaves; chocolate balloons; working with sugar: making cages, making angel hair.

This is where Chef Pepin SHINES! He is an incredible teacher. I'm looking forward to the PBS series--but I have no idea how they're going to even approach such a great breadth of recipes. Should be interesting!

Merci Bien Chef Pepin for such a great cookbook. Please, though, next time could you include some pics?
45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive cookbook 19 Oct 2011
By Alla S. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In "Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food," world-renowned chef Pepin, popularly known for his cooking show, shares his recipes--which are divided into categories like soups, salads, eggs and cheese, pasta/rice/grains/potatoes, breads/sandwiches/pizzas, shellfish and fish, poultry and game, meat, charcuterie and offal, vegetables and side dishes, fruit desserts, puddings/sweet soufflés/ crepes, cakes/cookies/candles, tarts/pies/pastries, frozen desserts, and basics.

After each category, a page of recipes and corresponding page numbers is listed. The recipes themselves are listed with a related tidbit of information, list of ingredients, and a couple of short paragraphs detailing the preparation techniques. Most of the ingredients for the recipes are pretty basic and, thankfully, easy to find.

The recipes cover a wide range of food: anything from risotto with vegetables, mint ice cream, black truffle salad, chocolate soufflé, cheesecake with apricot blueberry sauce, chocolate mousse, potato crepes with caviar, poached oysters with mushrooms and red pepper, apricot fondue, to Christmas fruitcake, broiled lobster with bread stuffing, onion and bread soup, smoked salmon, strawberry buttermilk shortcake, and etc, etc, etc. Throughout the book, well-known dishes are mixed up with more exotic once.

The book ends with a long and comprehensive index, organized by ingredients and meal categories. A DVD is included with the book.

Now to my thoughts: I tried making some of the recipes in the book, and was impressed by the results. My favorite so far is the black truffle salad. The book is pretty hefty--as the 700 plus recipes in the title indicate. It's definitely worth it though. Recommended for fans of cooking programs, newbies, as well as professional cooks.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I only had ONE cookbook, this would be IT 27 Oct 2011
By Mockingbird - Published on
I feel like taking my arm to my cookbook shelves and, with one quick swipe, sliding every cookbook I own onto the floor . . . except this one . . . Essential Pepin. It deserves to have its own spotlight, like a painting in a museum. However, I am reading it so thoroughly it will hardly be on my bookshelf at all like a museum piece, rather, it will be getting spotted by splatters as I cook. Many cookbooks have colorful spines to look at on the shelf, but they don't find their way on to the kitchen counter over and over for recipe reference; this one will. It is user friendly for all levels.

Each recipe is written as though a close friend is near my shoulder teaching me ~ and encouraging me kindly ~ how to cook recipes that I will make again and again. The recipes aren't just for show (they are beautiful), but rather for daily nourishment and feeling the joy that comes from cooking simple, uncomplicated foods as a daily way of life. There is something innocent, irresistible and compelling about this book. Jacques is a born teacher and something of a renaissance man. His own charming watercolor illustrations throughout the book (about 200 of them) reveal to me what a truly creative person he is. It's been fun just to flip through looking at them. They are lovely. A few years ago I loved reading his biography, "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen". It is amazing to me that this utterly worthy ICON in the world of cooking has remained so kind, gentle, humble and generous with information. He truly desires to help others learn to cook well. I turn to Pepin as a teacher more than any other notable chef when I start cooking. Jamie Oliver is the other one who inspires.

I am so excited about this book I can hardly type this review. I've been trying to find his new cooking series "Essential Pépin" on PBS (premieres in fall 2011 on PBS stations nationwide), but our state isn't carrying it yet. This cookbook/DVD is such a classic I am getting one for each of my college children.

I watched the DVD today and it is excellent. Nearly every lesson is very short, to the point, and taught in Pepin's classic "you can do this" style (the poultry/meat lessons are longer). His methods are extremely efficient and there is very little food wasted. There are a few camera close-ups that are blurry, but it doesn't detract. The video was a larger format than my t.v. screen [I had to go to my dvd settings and set it at 16:9 manually]. Each category on the dvd Menu has subcategories. This gives you the choice to watch one quick lesson at a time. For example, on "Basics" you can choose to watch: how to tie on an apron & towel properly; positioning and using a knife; how to open wine and champagne bottles properly; how to sauté like a chef, etc... The "Poultry and Meat" offers lessons on trussing/boning chicken, lamb or rabbit and even how to use a circulator for making sausage. For me the tutorials on boning a chicken were worth the price of the whole book. The egg category offers how to separate an egg; cook and unmold an egg cocotte; make a classic omelet. The deep fried egg looked SO delicious. I can't wait to make an omelet the way he demonstrated, to peel an apple his way, to seed a pomegranate his way, to mince garlic with his efficiency, or to julienne orange peel his way. You get the idea... happy cooking, indeed.
[don't forget to click on "more" in most categories to see extra subcategories]
*Fish & Shellfish
*Poultry & Meat
*Stock & Consummé
*Closing lines
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