Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine Hardcover – 7 Dec 2006
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“I look forward to the comforting scents and tastes of slow cooked food … ultimately tender and delicious.” (Thomas Keller)
“Only Daniel, the expert of slow cooked food, could bring such energy to the art of braising.” (Jean-Georges Vongerichten)
“The most exciting book on braising…incredible techniques… thank you for so brilliantly sharing your talent with us.” (Eric Ripert)
“What a treat... sends you running for the kitchen. I can’t wait to cook from this book!” (Suzanne Goin)
“Yum-braise with one of America’s greatest chefs.” (Emeril Lagasse)
“Daniel Boulud is an undisputed creative genius… Braise is the book he was destined to write… a classic!” (Robert M. Parker, Jr.)
“I love Daniel’s food and it tastes so wonderful.” (Nobu Matsuhisa) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Daniel Boulud was raised near Lyon, France. In 1993 he opened his much-heralded restaurant Daniel, which was awarded four stars by the New York Times and praised as one of the best in the world. He has since opened DB Bistro Moderne and Café Boulud in New York, a Café Boulud in Palm Beach, and Daniel Boulud Brasserie in Las Vegas. Boulud has received countless culinary honors, including Chef of the Year awards from Bon Appétit and the James Beard Foundation, which also named him the country's Outstanding Restaurateur in 2006. He lives in New York City.
Melissa Clark writes about cuisine and other products of appetite. After brief forays working as a cook in a restaurant kitchen and as a caterer out of her fifth-floor walk-up, Clark decided upon a more sedentary path. She earned an MFA in writing from Columbia University, and began a freelance food-writing career. Clark is currently a food columnist for the New York Times, and has written for Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and Martha Stewart, among others. She has written more than thirty-two cookbooks, including In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite and Cook This Now. Clark was born and raised in Brooklyn, where she now lives with her husband, Daniel Gercke, and their daughter, Dahlia.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The very first observation I must make about Boulud's book is that Stevens' book contradicts the comments on Boulud's back jacket which suggest Boulud and Clark have written the last word on the subject, as there are many things about Stevens' book which make it a superior first book on braising, and even give one grounds for passing on Boulud's book, if money or bookshelf space is tight.
Being simpleminded, I first check the size and recipe count of the two books. While Boulud / Clark has 228 pages, Stevens weighs in at 480 pages, over twice as much for a similar list price. Another simpleminded comparison shows that while Boulud / Clark give us nine (9) pages of introductory material on braising technique, Stevens gives us 33 pages, including some superb illustrations of the variety of braising pots. Boulud / Clark speaks about these briefly, but offers little illumination on the great range of pots used for braising. They say enough, but certainly don't cover the field thoroughly. And, in the appendices on sources, while Boulud / Clark give us only sources for their wide range of ingredients, Stevens also gives us sources for braising cookery such as Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma, Lodge Cookware, and Big Tray. I am surprised she doesn't give a reference to Le Creuset.
I am very happy that both authors use a very simple `by principle ingredient' table of contents and I am doubly happy that both authors list the titles of all recipes in their tables of contents. If I were to choose one over the other, I like Stevens' breakdown of chapters for four meats, Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb over Boulud's one chapter on `Meat'. The only area in which Boulud and Stevens don't cover exactly the same territory is in Boulud's final chapter on braising fruits with nine (9) recipes. Stevens includes no fruit recipes.
On the other hand, on every other subject, Stevens has over twice as many recipes as Boulud / Clark. For example, Stevens has 34 recipes for vegetables while Boulud / Clark has but 13. And yet, even though both authors focus on the same few vegetables such as eggplant, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli rabe, and other members of the cabbage family, there seems to be practically no overlap in recipe names. Stevens does give us a lot more on white potatoes, however, Boulud does give us the insight that sweet potatoes work well with a much different range of spices (especially citrus and the cookie spices) than do white potatoes.
Of the recipe writing style in the two different books, there are some important differences in Stevens' favor. The first is that she gives the braising time for each recipe. The second is that her numbered recipe steps highlight the point of each step, making it easier to mentally tick off where you are in the recipe. The third is that Stevens gives several more variations, albeit relatively small variations in recipes, than does Boulud / Clark. Both writers (and in this area I think we are primarily reading Melissa Clark) give us very nice sidebars on technique and ingredients. As Boulud has a wider range of ingredients, his asides in this area are more interesting.
On the use of color photographs, both use the `economical' option of special `rotogravure' sections scattered throughout the book where all the color pics appear. If color pictures are important to you, this may be a nuisance, but both books are the same, and I think the quality of the photography is the same in both books.
Now we get to those areas where Boulud / Clark has something special to offer.
The first thing we encounter is Boulud's characterization of the book as a collection of International recipes. Braising has often been described as THE distinctive French technique, just as stir-frying is THE distinctive Chinese method of cooking. But, Frenchman Boulud pulls in techniques from around the world and adapts them to his own style.
Thus, the second distinctive aspect of the book is that unlike Stevens' recipes, almost all the recipes in this book are Boulud originals. While every recipe may have started somewhere else, he has made them all his own by some change or other.
A third distinction is that Boulud tends to use a wider range of ingredients than Stevens. Now I encountered absolutely nothing in Boulud's recipes which I have not seen a dozen times before, but you will definitely need a bigger pantry if you start making Boulud's dishes. One ingredient I am especially happy to see (and which seems to be a Boulud favorite) is chestnuts.
The fourth and most important aspect of Boulud's book that sets it apart is the fact that his recipes may generally be considered more `artisinal'. What that means is that on average they can be more complicated and take more time and more effort to prepare. This is not a bad thing, if you really want to make a big impression.
The fifth distinction one finds in Boulud / Clark is the excellent photographic tutorials you get for the techniques of some of the more distinctly artisinal dishes. My favorite is the stuffed cabbage with pork and chestnuts, which requires no less than twelve (12) pictures to fully illuminate the method for assembling the dish.
If you like distinctive dishes and ingredients, Boulud is your man. If you are a foodie cookbook collector, you need both books. If you prefer simpler, easier dishes, definitely get Stevens first.
I tried seven dishes. Of the four beef dishes my family ate, only the Beef Shoulder with Jerusalem Artichokes and Carrots was tasty enough to be served again. It was complex and the Jerusalem Artichokes were exotic but did taste like they belonged in a beef stew.
We also ate the Paleron de Boeuf au Vin Rouge, which was merely an adequate variation on a daube,and Smoky Beef Chili, which uses lime juice instead of tomato for its acid,but cooking dimished the tang, so the final flavor seemed tamed and dull. We tried the Braised Ground Beef with Split Peas, Apricots and Apples and the Red Cabbage with Apples and Honey,and they were both way sweet. My daughter loved the cabbage candy.
I also cooked the Veal Breast Braised with Cinnamon and Green Olives, which was edible(unlike the two previous) but, well, maybe the nuance of the 20/lb serrano ham is lost after being braised for 2 hours. Again, the cinnamon seemed to give an excessive sweetness to the dish.
I tried the dessert braise of Mangoes and Carrots With Honey and Ginger-Lime Whipped Cream. The cream was outstanding, but the braise was a what was I thinking moment.
Over all, I've been disappointed. Maybe I'll have tastier times with fowl and pork.
She is long gone now, but I wish I could have given her a copy of this book. Here are about a hundred recipies cooked this way. The variety, the spices -- it seems that every type of cooking has dishes that are braised. Here the dishes come from Thailand, Italy, Mexico, Turkey, Lebanon, France, Russia, China and many other places. There is the distinctive flavors of each of these cooking type, but each dish has been thought about, modified, tested and made Boulud's own.
Tonight I'm serving Ropa Vieja, a Cuban braised flank steak with peppers, tomatoes, and onions. I started it marinating last night. I started it cooking a couple of hours ago. It smells wonderful.
The poultry recipes were better. The Lapin Dijonnaise was fantastic, and when I made it again with chicken thighs, it was even more flavorful.
All in all, I'd say this will not be one of my favorite cookbooks, even though I love braising. The recipes are too complicated, too costly, and not worth the trouble.