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"The Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adrià"

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This past Sunday, Mark Bittman gave us a sneak peak at Ferran Adrià's next cookbook, "The Family Meal...," in the New York Times' magazine section.

Apparently, like all great chefs, F.A. really likes good, simple food...and who doesn't? Of course, the book isn't without "controversy," at least in Bittman's eyes. You see, F.A. believes that every good cook should have at their disposal things like homemade stocks, condiments and even some sauces. I'll bet many of us do - I always have some good stock in my freezer. Bittman specifically writes about sofrito, and how it's not something that one would normally throw together for a weeknight meal; but in Coleman Andrews' classic Catalan Cuisine, Andrews suggests that sofrito is something that many Catalan cooks make a big batch of and keep in their refrigerators for just such a purpose.

No matter the "controversy," I am looking forward to this book, and I'm wondering if it'll become part of your collection as well.

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This book looks very interesting - I'm not sure I'd want to attempt some of Adrià's restaurant meals, but would be very interesting to see how much "simpler" these recipes are. Love the idea that they are all supposed to be very economical to make - although trying to replicate in another country may make ingredients more pricey and difficult to obtain. However, once you have something on hand or have learned how to make a key ingredient, it's much easier to do it again or make another recipe requiring the same thing. I would only hope that it's not one of those cookbooks where every recipe requires some new work-intensive or hard-to-find item.

Do you have any idea how the book is organized? Seasonal? I wish they had given some hints on that - did check Amazon and they only show availability in early October, no Table of Contents.

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I did not read the article, nor do I know how it is organized, so some of this may be redundant. But I did see FA speak at the Experimental Cuisine Collective in NY and he did discuss it and its goal.

Basically he gives the/a Stageurs a tight budget and they have to make a "menu" out of it for the restaurant's family meal. They are incredible obsessive (like all things apparently there) and catalog/document all "menus". So this book is a documentary/collection of all the "Family Meals" at El Bulli adapted somewhat for people at home.

Since everyone at the restaurant sat down to eat thiese meals, and FA, made it a goal of his to drastically improve the quality, I'm very interested in it.

Bear with me since that was from memory from months ago.

Mike

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Absolutely, perhaps it will be my "Spanish Ad Hoc at Home"! :smile:

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I'm excited about this book! I don't (yet) have any of the El Bulli books, but I doubt I'd ever cook anything from them since I don't have a staff and can't spend all day (or days) in the kitchen for a little plate of awesome, as much as I'd love to.

This book is probably also not in the 30 min category, but it'll have his and his staff's handwriting all over and it'll be exciting to replicate some of the dishes I think. I'm really looking forward to this book there hasn't been much in cook books this year that interests me (MC aside) but this really has me interested.

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Publication in the UK is expected 3 October.

There's a synopsis on Waterstones' website

The Family Meal is the first home cookbook by the world's greatest chef, Ferran Adria. It features nearly 100 delicious recipes by Ferran Adria that anyone can prepare, inspired by the dishes eaten every day by the staff at his legendary restaurant El Bulli, awarded World's Best Restaurant five times. The recipes in The Family Meal are easy-to-prepare and meant for family dining at home. From Roast Chicken with Potato Straws, Sea Bass Baked in Salt and Mexican-style Slow-Cooked Pork to White Chocolate Cake and Baked Apples with Whipped Cream, there is a wide selection of everyday classics for every night of the week. The cookbook is also the first by such a renowned chef to ensure that the dishes are affordable and the ingredients are widely available at the local supermarket. The Family Meal is organized into three-course menus, with appetizers, mains and desserts, so you can prepare a well-balanced meal at home ? without fuss. Each recipe is shown with numerous step-by-step full-color photographs, and conversions on how you can prepare a meal for a small or large group - for 2, 6, 20 or 75 people. This is the cookbook by Ferran Adria everyone has been waiting for, it is sure to be one of the most talked about and popular cookbooks of the season.

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/ferran+adria/the+family+meal/8563075/

On a related note, there's an article posted today on the Guardian's site (and probably prompted by the book launch) about different restaurants and their "Family Meals" (or not). And how they differ (or not) from what the punters get out front.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/sep/05/the-restaurant-family-meal

Oh, and that Guardian posting also gives a link to this YouTube page in which Adria talks about his book (with English subtitles): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSpBzXQorWg

Its 1 minute 51 sec

At about 25 sec, there's some big fish bagged for sv, and at 53 sec there's a book page showing an Isi being filled for an espuma ... but the whole thing might just be a fearfully basic photo-recipe book - he actually says "if you don't know how to cook, its also a book that will get you started."

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Just ordered my copy from Book Depository. Hope it isn't too basic but, at the asking price, I won't be too offended if I only find a relatively small amount of usable content.

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I recently read The Sorcerer's Apprentices. The author described the family meals at El Bulli and said it was a chance for the talented chefs to cook their own specialities within a set, limited, budget. Each recipe was carefully recorded. Can't wait to see the product, which is this book.

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I just received this book. I'm impressed with the organization and for a rookie like myself it looks very straightforward. Pictures every step of the way, quantities for 2/6/20 or 75 people and a timeline of when to start each step. 31 3 course menus included. I'm still skimming through it but everything looks delicious!

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How complex are the dishes ? I don't expect El Bulli level (or even close) but some of the few comments I read so far sound like that these are sometimes very simple recipes for beginner level.

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How complex are the dishes ? I don't expect El Bulli level (or even close) but some of the few comments I read so far sound like that these are sometimes very simple recipes for beginner level.

Yes; wondering who the target market is for this book. It does look very lovely as a production, but I don't need (or want) a book to tell me how to trim asparagus, fry an egg, etc. And I'm wondering if those who do even know who he, or el Bulli, is/was. It seems a little off. Couldn't we have a happy medium between the ultra-basic and the olive oil slinky??

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When my copy arrives I'll report back. I'd be shocked if it was ultra basic, a sort of el Bulli-themed '4 Ingredients or Less Easy Slow Cooker Recipes For Busy People'. Accessible, yes, but if it's based on el Bulli's staff meals I'm sure there's a bit more to it than 'here's how you dice an onion without losing a kidney or fingers.'

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It's pretty basic overall and has a picture with each step. The tone of the book is simpler less expensive items for everyday eating. You may be a bit disappointed in that respect.

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That IS what family meal is all about. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a restaurant not making any money isn't going to spend a lot on feeding their employees.

When you have that high caliber of cooks, the meals should be simple to tasty with a premium placed on good technique. Of course good high quality scraps and left overs you have a better chance at a good family meal.

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Nobody expects very unusual ingredients and techniques but staff meal books can still have very interesting dishes - the Chanterelle one is a good example. Will be interesting to see which way the El Bulli book goes

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They are interesting and it seems like a lot of local flavors. I'm looking forward to trying them out.

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Just comments on Chowhound which weren't very encouraging to expect an interesting book. Seems to be more basic than I expected.

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Mine came this morning. Coz is correct that it is on a more simple level than what might expect of his modernist reputation, but this is based on staff meals, not what was sent to the dining room. He outlines 31 meals each with a salad/soup/starter, then a main course followed by dessert. Some are as simple as a Waldorf salad or strawberries in vinegar, but there is a quail main and osso buco and duck with a chimichurri sauce. There are several pages of equipment and kitchen essentials followed by the recipes. Interestingly, they scale them from 2 persons to 6 to 20 to 75 people for each dish. The step by step photos cover two pages for each dish as well. With each set of dinners, they also include the front pages showing ingredients to buy, those which should be in the pantry, fridge and freezer and a back timing charts when to begin the various components. I am just briefing through so my relating of what is here may be clearer after I understand the rythm of the book.


Edited by JBailey (log)

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that's not a review. it's press. Anyone seen a review?

That journo has completely missed the fundamental point that the 'family' in the title is referring to the 'restaurant family', ie the team, the staff.

Its incidental that you might use these recipes at home to feed your relations, your real family. All 20 or 72 of them ...

... it is on a more simple level than what might expect of his modernist reputation, but this is based on staff meals, not what was sent to the dining room. ...

This is the most important thing to understand about this book!

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I just received my copy last night, and I have to say...I wish that more of the lesser dietie's would include the level of breakdown detail that is in this book. Ingredients broken down into pantry staples/to-buy fresh, helpful timelines for prep and cooking, and the over the top number of photos for reference. No-brainer stuff to many I'm sure, but what a great example of making things as easy as possible for the home cook...and interesting recipes to boot. Looking forward to piloting a couple very soon....

Edited to add: And $17 at Amazon, I mean, come ON....


Edited by Zeemanb (log)

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My copy just landed. Flicking through it now. Will maybe post some more in-depth comments later, but for now, here are some points that jump out:

* The subtitle talks about home cooking but 'the family meal' refers to el Bulli's staff meals

* The book discourages waste (it's common for a lot of high end restaurant books to specify the use of a single part of a vegetable or expensive cut of meat, neglecting the rest)--Adria lists a number of (worthwhile) uses for leftovers. For example, the almond pulp that's left are making almond milk can be used to make a soup

* He mentions that the restaurant might use xantham gum to thicken something for 75 people, but when you're a casual cook making dinner for 4 people you're probably better off just using corn starch

* Adria understands that not all home cooks are rich: he acknowledges that a butcher/fishmonger/etc will probably provide superior service but doesn't rubbish supermarkets

* There's a double page spread on the fish he uses in the recipes. There's a nice photo of each fish. While this is of limited use to me--different varieties of fish down here and all--it is a nice feature, given there can be many names for different fish (or, sometimes, one name that's used for multiple fish) around the world

* There are a lot of tips aimed at newbies: the basic idea technique behind cooking any piece of meat, cooking eggs, etc--obviously of limited use to the average eGulleter. It covers frying, boiling and poaching eggs but doesn't get into, say, onsen eggs or sous vide eggs

* Being a Phaidon book, it's very visual--there are a couple of double page spreads showing all of the cooking utensils and appliances needed to complete the recipes in the book, ranging from a simple spatula to a soda siphon

* This, obviously, is not a recipe book akin to Natura or the old elBulli titles, but it's not that simple: Adria expects you to stock your freezer with, among other things, squid ink, homemade stocks (various kinds), picada, sofrito, barbecue and romesco sauce

* Other 'essentials' include instant coffee, potato chips (as in crisps) and potato straws, throat lozenges and honey-flavoured lollies

* Again, the book is very visual--for the picada recipe (as with all of them) there are numerous colour photos showing each step of the process

* Adria accepts that some people may prefer to buy stock--and steers you in the direction of good delis or even restaurants instead of supermarkets, altho' accepts supermarkets can sell okay stock

* The recipes section sort of assumes you'll be making a three course meal from the book

* There's a time line down the side of the page, saying what you need to do x hours/minutes before service

* Quantities of ingredients given for 2, 6, 20 and 75 people

* It's a simple book, yes, but you most of the condiments/dressings/etc yourself

* The burger recipe, for example, isn't as complex as Blumenthal's one from Perfection: Adria asks for ground beef rather than an elaborate process of salting and grinding three specific cuts

* The burger is served with chips/crisps--so that's where they come in

* There's a heavy Spanish influence on a lot of the food, but also elements of Italian, Asian (as in generically East Asian) and damn near everything else

* Desserts range from pieces of fruit prepared simply (dressed somehow, maybe baked) to chocolate truffles (without the usual tempering process, mind)

* Doesn't get you to DIY the sausages, which I find surprising--they'd fit in with the frozen essentials--you do DIY the tomato sauce, tho'

* A goddamn potato chip omelet

* A lot of fish, a lot of fruit

* Gets around the budget issue with a lot of cheaper cuts: lamb necks, chicken wings, shin, ribs, shoulder (of course, there are also some recipes for expensive cuts like duck breast)

* The roast chicken recipe is simple--it doesn't say, oh, hey, buy a thermometer and then cook it do x*C (which is odd, given the book asks you to buy a soda siphon and whatnot), but rather to cook it for a specific amount of time

* US Imperial weight measurements--not a gram in sight

* A lot of the main course dishes look simple but pretty good--there are a few I want to try


Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

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