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OliverB

Cooking with Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home

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OliverB   

I just came across some nice little video with Thomas Keller on the Borders website, they talk about the book and then they cook a couple of the recipes. The reporter is a bit chatty, but I think it's fun to watch and there are a couple fun tricks to learn along the way, like the chives with wet paper towel.

I hope the link works:

Thomas Keller - Borders books video

I also made the cauliflower soup yesterday, it came out fantastic! I think I'll post a thread in the cooking section, as this is more about the cook book, not a cooking with thread, but here's a little preview:Picture 58.png

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OliverB   

I really love this book! There are quite some things I want to try my hands on, the first that I had flagged was cauliflower soup, which incidentally also was the first dish we got to try at a book signing with Thomas Keller, so I guess I really had to make it now :-)

I made the whole recipe, which is supposed to give you about 6 portions. It uses two heads of cauliflower (4-5 lb), a leek, some onion, milk, cream and butter (of course), 1/4 tsp curry, s&p. and you add croutons and beet chips. All together it probably took me about 2hrs, though you could take quite some short cuts here, buy croutons, buy veggie chips, blend with an immersion blender if you don't mind it a bit more rustic and skip the cup of blanched and fried in butter florets on top. This could be a relatively quick to make dish if you skip those mostly presentational things.

In this cased I followed the entire recipe, except that I used curry powder I have from the Indian store.

I cut two heads of cauliflower into chunks, half an onion and one stalk leeks. I did not really measure these out in cups, just eyeballed it. They go into a pot with butter and 1/4 tsp curry powder and some salt, where they steam under a parchment paper lid (seems to be one of TK's favorite things and really does work very well) for some 20 or so min, until almost tender.

Picture 61.png

Then you add 2cups milk, 2 cups heavy cream, and 2 cups water, bring to a good simmer and let go for an other 30 min or so. Then you're ready to blend it all up. He recommends the VitaMix (I have a feeling that we have some paid product placement here....) which I don't have, I had to use our stone old:

Picture 65.png

Oysterizer Cycle Blend, which actually did a fantastic job! I can't imagine what a VitaMix would have done better. I started on slow and eventually worked my self up the row of buttons until I hit liquefy and ended up with a super smooth light and foamy, velvety, almost whipped cream like soup, out of this world! Super creamy:

Picture 62.png

Once that's all done, you're basically good to go, you could just eat right now, but there are a couple garnishes to do if you want to copy the recipe exactly.

As I have never deep fried anything, I figured this is as good a thing to try as anything, and I won't need a huge pot of oil. I took my smallest pot and filled it with about an inch of peanut oil, heated it up to 300 degree F. Meanwhile I peeled one beet and sliced it on my mandolin into very thin slices. Once the oil reached temp, I fried them in batches of 5:

Picture 63.png

I put them on a cooling rack and salted them with fine sea salt.

Next it was time to blanche the cup or so of florets I had reserved, just in salted water with a dash of vinegar. Once done they go in a frying pan with a Tbsp of butter until browned. I used the same pan I had used for the croutons with the remainder of garlic oil still in there, figured I might as well.

Well, there you have it, soup, browned florets, croutons, beet chips. To plate I poured two ladles of soup on a bowl, added some florets, croutons on top and a stack of chips on top of that. For a bit of color I added one water cress twig, sprinkled some black salt and pepper on top and drizzled a bit of good olive oil on. Served with thick slices of rustic sourdough bread, this dish is heavenly! The soup is rich, fluffy, airy and light, very very tasty. The different add ons give great texture, from soft to very crunchy and the bread is what you need to soak up every last drop and wipe the bowl clean.Picture 64.png

This soup is delicious and I see lots of other add ons one could play with, things like bacon, different greens, etc. A flexible delicious base to play with. Or just stick to the book, I'll definitely make this again.

I still have a bit less than half of it for left overs, wondering if it would freeze well? Might try with just a cup to see what happens. This would be a great soup to bring for a potluck or to share at Christmas with family, just get some good quality croutons or make some that day, everybody can get a small cup to warm up and get ready for dinner!

I will be making more things from this book, which is why I thought it would be neat to have a "cooking with" thread here, hopefully others will join in with their creations! As you can imagine, I highly recommend this book, check in the cook book section for a thread of discussions about it.

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rena   

Your soup looks fantastic and I'm sure it tasted the same. I've put that book on my Christmas wish list. Hopefully I will get it. If not I will buy it in the new year....

Thanks for sharing!

Rena

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Your description and pictures of your cauliflower soup have convinced me to buy ad hoc. It looks gorgeous and delicious.

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OliverB   

oh, thank you both! I think you'll both love the book, the recipes are a bit involved, but certainly not anything like French Laundry etc, and once you read through it you can probably find a couple short cuts here and there if you like. I have all of Thomas Keller's books, and I'm probably gonna cook more from this one than from all the others combined. That's not to say they're bad or anything, the French Laundry book has changed me in so many ways, I cook, shop, and eat differently since I got it, but usually there's just not enough time to strain some stock a gazillions times. And it's really not necessary at home either, as the taste will be the same, and you probably don't spend $250 per person (w/o drinks) at home :-)

Join in here once you get it, I'd love to see what others cook, be it follow word by word or taking an inspiration and running with it.

I'll be tackling the fried chicken soon, have a wonderful free range chicken in the freezer just for that :-)

I'll be posting here once I get around to more from this wonderful book.

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FoodMan   

Seems like The cauliflower soup is the one to start with. Excellent work Oliver. I am so excited to go to the book signing in Houston this week, and from what I hear they will also be offering samples of the cauliflower soup.

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OliverB   

have fun at the signing, bring your camera too, he's happy to have pictures taken. And enjoy the samples, some really good stuff!

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Sartain   

I've been holding off on this purchase and your cauliflower soup pictures pushed me over the edge! Amazon is out of stock until February so I've bought it from BN - won't get here till next week though. Ah well, spectator sport for now then - I'll just pull up a chair and say bring it on!

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jnash85   

I've made the fried chicken twice. It was my first time doing it and it was great. My mom said it was the best chicken she's ever had, although she is just a little bit biased since I was doing the cooking.

I will be trying the cauliflower soup very soon.

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agray   

Here's my shot at the Chicken Pot Pie Recipe from this book.

ad_hoc_potpie.jpg

I love chicken pot pie, and have made various variations on the theme. My previous favourite was Mark Bittman's from How to Cook Everything (the new, revised version). This one, save for a little seasoning, edges it out, and in fact is a different sort of beast altogether.

As I'm finding with this book, and as others have also said, what Thomas Keller has done is taken some familiar dishes and raised them up a level using some of the techniques of a high-end restaurant, but yet not making them so complex as to be out of the range of a competent home cook.

There are two things that raise this pie up - first, each vegetable is cooked separately. This step, fiddly though it may be, ensures that each vegetable is cooked properly and that the texture and flavour of each vegetable is preserved rather than blending into a sort of stew like in most pot pies. Secondly, the bechamel is reduced over 40 minutes or so to make a sauce that is rich but subtle.

I used leftover chicken from his roast chicken recipe, which I'd done the night before.

The first thing I did was make the pastry in the morning, as it has to sit in the refrigerator a while so it won't shrink. I'm still a bit of a pastry newbie, so I used Rose Levy's butter pastry recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible since I know it works for me rather than Kellers, though his is very similar (as are most basic pie crusts).

Later in the day I rolled out the pastry and put it back in the fridge. Then I cooked the vegetables, each one separately with 8 peppercorns each as well as bay leaves and thyme (the celery was blanched just briefly). Now, I understand that this method is important, but I'm sure you could make a few shortcuts here without damaging the final product - the carrots and potatoes, for example, could probably cook together... Anyway, first time, I followed it to the letter.

Reducing the bechamel sauce was time-consuming, but worth it. With Bittman's recipe the sauce is fairly liquid, so I use a ceramic baking dish and cover it with puff pastry. With this version, I was easily able to make a two-crust pie, and the pastry was not soggy at all.

ad_hoc_potpie2.jpg

This is the pie before adding the sauce. The celery was lovely and bright from the brief blanching.

ad_hoc_potpie3.jpg

This is the finished product served with some roasted vegetables left over from the roast chicken.

It does take a while - dinner was a bit late as it was hard to coordinate the vegetable cooking and the sauce making in the time I'd allotted. Next time I'll cook the vegetables when I make the pastry and put them all in the fridge together. Oh, and I recommend baking it low in the oven (I baked it on a baking stone) to crisp the lower crust.

It was really quite good. The only thing I'd change is the seasoning; I may have been a bit stingy with the salt and pepper, and I've also become quite fond of sage in my chicken pot pies, so I'll add that next time.

I've given all of the recipes I've tried so far 4 stars on my own site: http://www.cookbooker.com/title/2266/ad-hoc-at-home

I'm definitely going to try that Cauliflower soup soon too - it sounds excellent.

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OliverB   

great stuff, that pot pie looks awesome! Great photos too! I've never made a pot pie (or any pie for that matter), I think I'll have to put that high on my next to do list! First is the fried chicken though, I can't wait to do that.

Looking forward to more adventures here! :laugh:

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sygyzy   

I made the Cauliflower soup but found it very thick, but still tasting delicious. I must say though that it really intensifies the cauliflower flavor and while I LOVE cauliflower, in any preparation, this one felt a bit synthetic or strange to me. It's hard to explain it until you've tried it.

Also, my beet chips were not nearly as nice looking as the book's. I think I sliced mine too thin. Much thinner than yours and a tad thinner than the book's. Yours seem way too thick, but hey if it works it works.

cauliflower_beet.jpg


Edited by sygyzy (log)

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sygyzy   

Here's my shot at the Chicken Pot Pie Recipe from this book.

I can't stop staring at your crust. I have eaten and made plenty of crust in my life but yours looks amazing. It doesn't even look like a traditional (pot) pie crust but more of a flaky (fruit) turnover. Is this the recipe from the book or did you do a variation?

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OliverB   

I'm sure the food stylist was working on the food for the photos, and they have tricks up their sleeve. Sometimes rendering the food inedible but making it prettier. (hair spray, lacquer, etc)

Mine were sliced thin, but not paper thin, maybe about as thin as a credit card or thinner. As I had never deep fried anything I was afraid I'd burn them if I made them any thinner.

It is a very thick soup, though the blender also whipped it up a bit, was fluffy. The taste is great, but definitely cauliflower. Maybe the ones you used had some problem? I did not find it synthetic, but of course tastes differ. I used organic cauliflower from whole food (was cheaper than the regular stuff at Safeway actually!), regular clover heavy whipping cream and what ever milk was in the fridge.

But your's sure looks good! You can thin it out a bit if you like it thinner. I think your chips look just fine though. I'd eat them :laugh:

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agray   

I can't stop staring at your crust. I have eaten and made plenty of crust in my life but yours looks amazing. It doesn't even look like a traditional (pot) pie crust but more of a flaky (fruit) turnover. Is this the recipe from the book or did you do a variation?

Thanks! I think the photo helps make it look good, though it was a very good crust. I didn't use the recipe from the book - Keller's recipe is not unusual though: flour, salt, butter, ice water. I'm still learning pastry, and I decided to use Rose Levy Beranbaum's Flaky Pie Crust recipe from 'The Pie and Pastry Bible'. This recipe is not dissimilar, but Rose has a bit of the Cook's Illustrated in her - her technique is incredibly specific and different than most (including Keller's). Also she uses exact weights for everything.

Same ingredients, flour, butter, salt and ice water. But she also adds a tiny bit of baking powder (1/4 tsp) and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar. Both the vinegar and the teaspoon help counteract shrinking; the baking powder also helps aerate and tenderize the pastry. Then everything is chilled - 2/3 of the butter is frozen for 30 minutes, as are the dry ingredients. The rest of the butter is refrigerated.

I used a food processor to initially process the flour/butter, then kneaded it in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Then formed it into disks and rested them in the fridge for a couple of hours before rolling out. The whole thing with this technique is that everything is aimed (almost obsessively) at keeping the ingredients as cold as possible all the way through - the butter and flour remain in separate layers, with the butter coated by the flour but not integrated with it, thus maximizing flakiness.


Edited by agray (log)

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I made the Apple Fritters today. I had to deviate slightly from the recipe and used more liquid; it was pretty close to a dough (instead of a batter). I normally have this problem, it is the flour I expect. Anyway, once the batter was thinned out some we made some fritters and they were delicious; very easy, too.

This one will get made again.

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nakji   

I'm beginning to think I'd like to get this book. Normally I'd shy away of anything with "Thomas Keller" on the cover, since I have neither a lot of time nor a ton of special equipment in my kitchen. I'm still enough of a novice cook to be intimidated. However...I make a lot of soup, and that cauliflower one had me salivating. Then I saw that chicken pot pie, and I was sold. That's just the kind of food I want to be able to make well. Solid iterations of classics, but with refined touches that make it special if someone is coming over for dinner. I'll have to hold out for February for mine, though!

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This evening we tried "butter-braised radishes, kohlrabi, and brussels sprouts". We were having ham (some lovely local stuff that is stunningly better then supermarket ham). This dish sounds like it would match well, but also piqued my interest. I am a fan of brussels sprouts (I usually use Robuchon's approach braised in butter), but had never had cooked radishes or kohlrabi (we are fond of it raw in salads). I figured it might be a bit odd. It was a bit odd, but not as much as I thought it would be. It was also quite good, and my g/f really liked it; she'll be asking for it again, I'm sure. About the only thing I'd change (and will...) would be a little less radish and a little more brussels sprouts.

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I should add that it was a good dish, prep/serving wise as the veggies can be prepped/cooked in advance and then finished with a minimum of effort/time. That is a big plus in a side dish for me.

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nakji   

Oh, that sounds great - I love dishes that use less common types of vegetables. What kind of radishes did the recipe call for? Small red ones? I love cooked radish - especially daikon braised in dashi with soy and mirin.

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It was the fairly conventional red radishes. The book is, essentially, upscale american home cooking, so although the ingredients are certainly beyond what most of our mothers used, they still tend to stay in that vein. The cooking makes them pink, which helps make the dish visually interesting, though it would be even better on that score if they could retain their red colour.

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jayejo   

I also made this with the seared duck breast. I have to say, I really loved both. Like you, I'd never had kohlarbi or cooked radishes. Also, the duck breast recipe is phenomenal. I couldn't get over how amazing the flavor of that was with just a little bit of such simple ingredients.

IMG_3208.JPG(the book)

IMG_3213.JPG(mine)

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OliverB   

wonderful! I had to put the book aside since we're in the middle of cookie baking, but probably will continue with it in a day or two, or at least after Christmas. I really have to find duck breast somewhere locally, so I don't have to order that. Asian markets maybe?

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For what it is worth, I made the caramel ice cream from this book on Saturday and it may be the best ice cream I've ever eaten. I made it as written except I tasted the custard and thought it could use more salt so I upped the salt from 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp. Let me say that is very surprising for a Keller recipe, usually they're heavy on the salt although rarely too much so... I'm using diamond kosher which is what's used in the book so it's not a measurement issue.

Divided the just-frozen-to-soft-serve-consistency ice cream in half and froze half straight and the other half had some crushed salted caramel (from a david lebovitz recipe; 1/2 cup sugar dry caramelized on low to dark amber and poured onto lightly oiled foil to harden with 3/4 tsp sea salt) mixed in. A scoop of each was a delicious contrast.

So far everything I've made (this, the chicken pot pie, the chocolate chip cookies, the scallops, the brined stuffed pork loin, the chicken soup, the fried chicken (a year or so ago pre-book after eating at ad hoc) and the cauliflower soup) has been outstanding.

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Well, I'd suggest you next try the apple fritters. Outstanding. I've made them about 4 times already; the last was for guests, and they were consumed at a frightening rate. I find that I have to add more milk then specified, but our flour is high protein which could account for it.

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