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Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home


Chris Amirault
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Thomas Keller has a new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home, arriving in stores in time for the winter gift season. The amazon page doesn't include a "Look Inside!" feature, so there's not a lot of information there, but the book is focused on US home cooking, comfort foods in particular, as served at the Yountville restaurant of the same name.

Definitely worth checking out. Does anyone have any advance peeks to share?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I will be diligently stashing cash for this one!

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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If you go to Jessia's Biscuit (ecookbooks.com) and search Ad Hoc there's a bit of a blurb on it. Sounds very interesting.

'A person's integrity is never more tested than when he has power over a voiceless creature.' A C Grayling.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just got an email from Amazon saying my copy has been shipped.

Dan

Hope you will share your impressions when it arrives. :smile:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Mine has arrived. I haven't had the chance to look through it, but physically, unsurprisingly it's the same size as TFL and Bouchon.

Looking through the Ad Hoc menus online, I am guessing this is the TK book I will cook the most from.

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*This is a first impression only. My expectations were high, and admitidly I was also unsure of exactly what those expectations should have been.

My copy arrived today. This is the first cookbook I have ever purchased in advance and/or without looking through it first. I wish I had waited.

The photography reminds me of an overly done episode of Good Eats, and has an overall staged feel to me. A quick thumb through of content showed lots of how to salt, saute, cheese basics, etc as well. The story of how Ad Hoc came to be was interesting although I have read it elsewhere. Most recipe sections left something to be desired on my first couple of thumbthroughs, but some will definately have me taking a closer look.

The book has a little of everything, and reminds me of Casual Cooking or Easy Entertaining by Michael Chiarello (I have both) for some reason.

I'll post a little more as I read through the book.

Jeff

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I, also, received mine today. Beautiful. I have both the Bouchon and the TFL. I have cooked from the Bouchon book, not yet from the TFL. I think I have found some recipes I may try from this book. Just have to wait until my new fridge arrives!!!!!!

Donna

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I doubt that this book will be as interesting as Bouchon to many on this website. I ordered mine for a fraction of the cost, thinking that it may be just right for my 22 year old after I read the following description"

"Thomas Keller's first book for the home cook will surprise you with its fun design and 200 simple recipes!

You won’t find complicated recipes, intimidating techniques and obscure ingredients in Ad Hoc at Home. What you will find are Thomas Keller’s surprisingly simple, incredibly satisfying family-style recipes. Keller rose to fame as the meticulous chef of The French Laundry (a Michelin Guide three-star-rated restaurant and serious contender for the best restaurant in America), but when he’s in his own kitchen, he takes a more relaxed approach. This, his first-ever book, written expressly for the home cook, is a pleasure to use for so many reasons, from its clever design and fun photography to 200 recipes and step-by-step photos that will help you enrich your culinary skills, as well as the lives of all for whom you cook. Color photos."

Nevertheless, I will reserve my judgement until I get the book. Skipper

Edited by skipper10 (log)
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I am interested in this book and is at the top of my Amazon wish list. My only concern is that we keep kosher and I don't know how friendly this book is to a kosher kitchen. Any thoughts on this?

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I am interested in this book and is at the top of my Amazon wish list. My only concern is that we keep kosher and I don't know how friendly this book is to a kosher kitchen. Any thoughts on this?

Dan

Well, there's a picture of a pig on the front cover. That's not a terribly good sign. There are also shellfish recipes, etc.

Whether you think it's "kosher friendly" or not will depend on how many non-pork non-shellfish non-meat+dairy recipes you think would still make the purchase worthwhile.

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As long as 50% of the book is useful, I will be happy. I am always willing to experiment and substitute where necessary. Sometimes recipes for pork can be replaced with chicken thighs amongst other creative techniques. I am not sure if Chef Keller would cringe or be amused by my "creativity".

Thanks

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I got my copy a couple days ago and I love it. Some great instructional photos, and more recipes that I'll probably make than any of the other Keller books. French Laundry is wonderful, but just about everything in there takes a lot of time for a little dish, not something I normally can justify - sadly. I'll just have to go back to the French Laundry to taste that kind of food again I guess. In the long run probably cheaper too, as I'd probably mess up some expensive tender ingredients anyway :-)

Bouchon is wonderful and very useful. Ad Hoc is probably even more so to me. There are some dishes that make me want to run to the kitchen right now. While certainly more - well, pedestrian would be the wrong word, but more "reality based" maybe - than the French Laundry (or Alinea, Fat Duck, etc) I don't see why anyone would not get a kick out of this book and suffer the same urge to cook RIGHT NOW.

It's actually refreshing to have a book by one of the best chefs currently alive that focuses on more of an every day kind of food. I'll add some more once I made something from the book, the last week has been crazy busy, but as of now I can only highly recommend the book. Not that I would have thought differently.

Amazon packaging was abysmal unfortunately and all four corners of the book got damaged, a replacement should be here on Monday. I'm anal with my books and if they don't look pristine and fresh off the press they go back. This one really suffered though, the corners sticking out of the lame excuse of a box. (more a wrap around cardboard thingy)

If in doubt, look at it in a bookstore, it should be on the shelves by now, but I'm sure I'll learn some good things and make some great dishes from this book!

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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My first impression is that the whole "dumbed down" thing is perhaps spin more than intent... It's definitely simplified compared to TFL or Bouchon, but it still seems like every effort is made to extract flavor and refine. You'll still need cheesecloth and a strainer or two, and as an example there are soup recipes that call for cooking 9 different vegetables separately and then combining at the end. Personally, unless I'm cooking for a dinner party or special occasion or just want to try a specific recipe I usually reach for those books for general ideas and techniques but don't do the full on preparation and definitely don't plate/compose per those books. The recipes in ad hoc seem to be at that level, what a good home cook would make for a meal at home based on inspiration from the Bouchon or French Laundry cookbook.

Plusses: more useful pictures and illustrations not just food porn, more process pics than finished results or raw ingredients... For example, I've read Keller's description of how to truss a chicken three times now, but this is the first time it's included pictures... I was doing it right, but that was more from just "okay, what works" than it was from reading the method in Bouchon/TFL and actually understanding it... And I see a lot of things in here I'll probably be making. I want to try the chicken & dumplings ASAP, I'd have never thought of doing a spiced parisian gnocchi as dumplings. And I've already made the fried chicken after seeing the recipe elsewhere... And the section on salads is beautiful.

Minuses: A few too many photos of TK... There's TK smelling the garlic, (on the back cover, and that may be the lamest author photo ever) TK goofing around with a peppermill or salt (although I guess I should be proud that we have the same peppermills?), a few extreme closeups of TK making funny faces at the camera... You get the idea, although I've been trying to figure out what kind of watch he's wearing because I like it :) And whoever said it was reminiscent of good eats is onto something, there's a general cheesy factor here that wasn't present in the other books, but it seems like an add on, not like they tried to come up with an excuse to use a drill to stir something or decided to frost a cake on a record player turntable or whatever.

But the photos mostly add value and I like that there are more pictures of the process and less of "look at this wonderfully composed plate" or "look at these dead birds and rabbits on a table". A lot of overlap with the other books (e.g., ice cream, pasta dough, roasting/brining, the brioche recipe, etc.), but not too much. Worth buying I'd say. I have a somewhat similar book, "Staffmeals from Chanterelle" and I see myself using this one more.

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So far, I like it very much - mostly. The lobster roll recipe, while it looks perfectly fine, is funny in that he says to use 1 1/4 lb lobsters because bigger ones aren't as tender. Tell that to a Mainer, or to Martin Picard!

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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Aki (of Alex & at Ideas in Food) sure likes it:

I'll admit it, I was skeptical. Although Ad Hoc should be the most me of all the Thomas Keller books I still raised my eyebrows when Alex expressed his enthusiasm for it. During Jonathan Benno's reign Per Se was my favorite restaurant for a splurge. Could TK, the master of fine dining, really do down home? This book is the real thing. We paid for it ourselves, as we do with most (but not all) of the books that we've actually loved, and I'd happily spend the money again to share it with someone I thought would appreciate it. When we happen to find ourselves in Napa Valley again I'll look forward to knocking on their doors and experiencing it all for myself.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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A field report... I made the chicken soup with dumplings.

The final result was pretty awesome, although it pained me to use an entire batch of chicken stock in one dish. 4 quarts of my stock needed a little more roux than what the recipe calls for to match the texture of the pictures (and yes, it came to a full simmer) and a light stock would have been better (mine was from leftover roast carcasses and such so it was semi-dark), and I forgot chives so subbed parsley for color. But the dumplings themselves were a revelation, easily the best dumplings I've ever had, Period. I've never made pate a choux so I was surprised how easy it was.

Take away: My everyday recipe is probably going to change to use these dumplings, except screw the quenelles, they'll be either piped & cut like parisian gnocchi, or just scooped blobs. And I just might do the throw out the vegetables thing because the peeled blanched celery was really good, but I'll probably start with about a quart of stock and 2 quarts of water and simmer a whole browned chicken in that instead of using stock + roasted chicken (and 4 quarts of liquid was too much for the amount of "chunks" specified, it could have been a bit more chunky).

I also found myself thinking about what an appetizer sized portion with one large dumpling and a poached egg might be like.

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My review copy arrived today in an imposing box from Workman/Artisan. It contained a book, a press release and a fried-chicken kit:

kellerbook.jpg

My first move whenever I receive a chef cookbook is to look who wrote it. The co-author is listed on the inside cover (the actual cover only names Keller) as Dave Cruz, but he turns out to be the chef at Ad Hoc, who is as likely to be the author as any other chef. Listed below that are three names: Susie Heller, Michael Ruhlman and Amy Vogler. These are all writers/producers/testers who have worked on past Keller books, either French Laundry, Bouchon, Under Pressure or more than one of the above, all published by Artisan, which leads me to expect that this book will be a high-quality product. (Incidentally, jvalentino, Susie Heller produced two Chiarello books, Casual Cooking and Napa Stories.)

I guess now I can read the book.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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What it says on the bag is "All-Natural FRIED CHICKEN KIT Ad Hoc's signature lemon-herb brine and savory coating mix for making crispy, golden fried chicken" and "INCLUDES 2 packets of brine and 2 packets of coating mix -- enough to make two family-sized batches (8-10 pieces each) or one party-sized batch (16-20 pieces)"

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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what's in the fried chicken kit?

What it says on the bag is "All-Natural FRIED CHICKEN KIT Ad Hoc's signature lemon-herb brine and savory coating mix for making crispy, golden fried chicken" and "INCLUDES 2 packets of brine and 2 packets of coating mix -- enough to make two family-sized batches (8-10 pieces each) or one party-sized batch (16-20 pieces)"

What a diappointment! I was really interested in how they got a chicken to get in that bag.

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