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"Les Halles Cookbook" by Anthony Bourdain


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Ooops. Just want to make it clear that somewhere along the way, some coding and text for quotes got wiped out in Ted's post. What's quoted is what Leslie wrote in her now-thankfully-unavailable-unless-you-want-to-pay-for-it-which-I-sure-as-hell-don't review. I might be that nasty, but not about Tony. :raz:

That said, I just read the recipe, and it IS kind of bizarre. It's a bit off in the order of steps (much easier to make the clarified butter BEFORE the reduction, especially if you use the alternate method the day before). The first method for clarifying should probably explain that you gently pour or ladle off the fat and discard the milk solids. And that alternate method seems to contain a line picked up from instructions for making stock or defatting a braise: "The next day, scrape the solidified fat off the top, peeling it away carefully and discarding it." DISCARDING IT!?!?!?!?!? THAT'S THE STUFF YOU WANT TO KEEP!!!!!

Also, there really should be some mention of straining the tarragon reduction before adding it to the eggs. Otherwise you'll have a swampy mess of tarragon leaves along with little peppercorn bullets in your sauce. :shock:

THOSE are the errors she should have called, because they are serious errors for the unpracticed. Sounds like she simply got her eggs too hot too fast -- it's not that the recipe is wrong about that.

(Oh, and the index is off by a page in the reference to clarifying butter. Tony, once again, you should have forced your editor to use me at least to proofread, if not copyedit or index! :rolleyes::laugh: Next cookbook, okay? :wink: )

I can make hollandaise with my eyes closed. And I have made béarnaise before. If you cook it gently over a double-boiler, it's not hard.

But what happened here was utterly bizarre. It did seem like an awful lot of shallots and tarragon (1 bunch, leaves only, finely chopped) with the vinegar. I followed the directions, reducing the mixture "until nearly dry." I placed my egg yolks in a warm metal bowl. Then I added the reduction, a few drops of water, as Bourdain suggests "as a little insurance against curdling" and placed the bowl over simmering water. The instant I started to whisk, the thing seized up in a blob. It was downhill from there.

Ted asks...

Wouldn't you add the tarragon reduction after your sauce has achieved volume?

But Ted, in answer to your question, no, you want to add it to the raw eggs, because it will help the emulsion of the butter with the eggs. Think of the reduction as the moral equivalent of the lemon juice when you make mayonnaise. Molecules that the air and then the fat can grab onto to make the emulsion and keep it together.

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There you go, it's been awhile since I made a bernaise sauce :biggrin:

I mainly remember doing the reduction for the guy who acually made the sauce, when I was an apprentice.

Thanks for the correction.

BTW, I always do my sauces (anglaise, etc.) "cowboy" style. over direct heat.

You just have to 'feel' it.

As A.B. said, it will feel your fear.

2317/5000

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BTW, I always do my sauces (anglaise, etc.) "cowboy" style. over direct heat.

You just have to 'feel' it.

Is that the pastry chef version of "going commando?" :raz:

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Ok, I am officially pissed. I call in to Jessica's Biscuits to check on my order (Les Halles book and Bouchon and some free book) and she informs me that Bouchon has been shipped but Les Halles will ship as soon as it is available. I ask her if they sold out and she claims they have not recieved it from the publisher yet!! What's up with that? I need to be at the book signing on Monday and I have no book. The least they could do is say it on the website that this book is not available yet (it definitly should be by now you would think), before people order it!

Elie

i got my copy from jessica's biscuit yesterday, so maybe things aren't as dire as they seemed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finished reading it last night. While I was reading the recipe for bearnaise, I was struck by the fact that he mentions hollandaise sauce but does not give a recipe for it. A willful omission? Too many memeories of "slinging Eggs Benedict"?

An accident?

'Cause now I am curious...What Would Tony Do? :raz: Not make it?

Is there a Bourdain-worthy Hollandaise Sauce recipe out there?

WWTD?

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Well, I've had the thing for over a month now, and have only made the mushroom and onion soups so far. My husband won't let me go beyond them. The minute he sees the book come out, he starts pulling out onions and gruyere. I can't blame him, it really is the best recipe for french onion soup we've ever tried. Love the mushroom soup as well, but husband hates the texture when its pureed, so I just slice the mushrooms and skip the blender step.

Will have to start cooking on the DL if I'm going to get beyond the first chapter.

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I just received this book in the mail yesterday, and what a kick it is! Could not put it down once I started reading it .... even before my morning caffeine. I love the photo of him in the kitchen with a pan and bottle of wine.

Based on comments here, I will first try the onion soup. I want to compare it to my favorite recipe from Julia Child. Maybe a side-by-side tasting is in order.

*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

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I just got the Les Halles cookbook and am trying the onion soup too!! I will be comparing it to my favorite recipe from William Sonoma " the best of TASTE".

I used the onion soup recipe at school (with the variation of adding white beans...it was on the menu, I had no choice). I deglazed with sherry and balsamic. Since it had to simmer longer because of the beans, the flavor was incredible! We served it with braised savoy cabbage, and a petit buttermilk thyme biscuit. Our instructor didn't want us using established recipes (we're supposed to be focusing on technique), but I had bought the book the weekend before and couldn't wait to try it out...

I've since made duck confit (don't know what I'm going to do with the meat yet) as well.

I'm not sure where WS gets their recipes, or if they test them. But I know all the recipes in this book work. I put a lot of stock in someone who tests their recipes before putting them out there...been the victim of untested recipes too many times. :wink:

"have a sense of humor about things...you'll need it" A. Bourdain

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I just got the Les Halles cookbook and am trying the onion soup too!! I will be comparing it to my favorite recipe from William Sonoma " the best of TASTE".

I used the onion soup recipe at school (with the variation of adding white beans...it was on the menu, I had no choice). I deglazed with sherry and balsamic. Since it had to simmer longer because of the beans, the flavor was incredible! We served it with braised savoy cabbage, and a petit buttermilk thyme biscuit. Our instructor didn't want us using established recipes (we're supposed to be focusing on technique), but I had bought the book the weekend before and couldn't wait to try it out...

I've since made duck confit (don't know what I'm going to do with the meat yet) as well.

I'm not sure where WS gets their recipes, or if they test them. But I know all the recipes in this book work. I put a lot of stock in someone who tests their recipes before putting them out there...been the victim of untested recipes too many times. :wink:

I'm very impressed with WS cookbooks as well. I have the 'Simple Classics' book, and every recipe I've tried has been sound. I have one friend in particular who is addicted to the Mac and Cheese!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I made the mushroom soup tonite as it was raining and I needed comfort. That easy, that good wow! :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Bruce Frigard

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I've had my copy for about a month and finally made the duck a l'orange

yesterday. Worked out very well just needed an extra half hour in the oven

for our 5 pounder.

I found the recipe for rillettes interesting in that it is almost exactly the

recipe my French Canadian grandmother used to make. She would seal

them in rendered pork fat to preserve them and were called 'crettons'.

We also had store bought crettons which were ground rather than pulled

pork but still highly seasoned and sealed in pork fat. Grandmother's were

much better.

Love the book.

I know it's stew. What KIND of stew?

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  • 1 month later...

Has anyone else tried the lobster bisque?

It took me a while to find all that lobster for the right price. I also had some reservations about tossing the whole things, shells and all, into the food processor. Come to think of it, there were several good reasons I had for not trying this at all, but I’m glad I did.

Toss lobsters, shells and all, into the food processor? I kept thinking Bourdain was out of touch with the current state of home-electrics after too many years behind a Robot-Coupe. But my food processor offered no objection. I came to suspect that lobster shells are not as tough as I had thought and that my food processor is not all that bad.

I was also thinking this would be a waste of good lobster meat and that my strainer couldn’t possibly keep all those little bits of shell out of my soup. I was wrong on both counts. The soup was very satisfying, loaded with lobster flavor, and not a single crunchy bit ended up in the strained product.

This is a great recipe!

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...Toss lobsters, shells and all, into the food processor? I kept thinking Bourdain was out of touch with the current state of home-electrics after too many years behind a Robot-Coupe. But my food processor offered no objection. I came to suspect that lobster shells are not as tough as I had thought and that my food processor is not all that bad....

So now you tell me! I made butter-poached lobster on Friday and the recipe asked for the lobster shells to be chopped up - I ended up with lobster "guts" all over my kitchen. The food processor would have confined them! :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I just received this book in the mail yesterday, and what a kick it is!  Could not put it down once I started reading it .... even before my morning caffeine.  I love the photo of him in the kitchen with a pan and bottle of wine. 

I was resisting buying a copy because of all the hype. How dumb is that? My copy arrived last weekend and I tore open the Amazon box in front of customers, opened it in the middle (page 112), and started laughing. Our power was out so we were pouring wine and conducting business by candlelight and flashlight. I passed the open book around, and one older couple actually took the book and a flashlight down the barrel row aways so their gasping and shrieking wouldn't bother the rest of us. I haven't heard sounds like that since eighth grade.

I'm definitely trying the onion soup first, as my significanto is addicted to caramelized Mayan onions.

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I passed the open book around, and one older couple actually took the book and a flashlight down the barrel row aways so their gasping and shrieking wouldn't bother the rest of us.  I haven't heard sounds like that since eighth grade.

That's lovely. I hope bourdain sees that comment.

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Has anyone else tried the lobster bisque?

It took me a while to find all that lobster for the right price. I also had some reservations about tossing the whole things, shells and all, into the food processor. Come to think of it, there were several good reasons I had for not trying this at all, but I’m glad I did.

I was also thinking this would be a waste of good lobster meat and that my strainer couldn’t possibly keep all those little bits of shell out of my soup. I was wrong on both counts. The soup was very satisfying, loaded with lobster flavor, and not a single crunchy bit ended up in the strained product.

This is a great recipe!

I made this for New Years with great success. Only problems I had were that 1) My fish guy wouldn't sell me any "stiffs" or that if he did they would be full price. 2) I wasn't sure how to cut the lobsters into 2 pieces, how did you do it? Do you add the entire lobster to the soup?

Nevertheless, the result had a rich lobster flavour and was a highlight of the meal.

(My wife and I also picked through the stainer for the meat)

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  • 6 years later...

This is an old thread, but I am still regularly cooking from Les Halles, which is my go-to cookbook for French-bistro recipes.

I am glad to see that someone upthread brought up the issue of the (lack of) lardons in the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe:

I have a question regarding cooking the Boeuf Bourguignon. Here's a quick summary of the recipe: Brown beef, set aside. Brown onions, sprinkle with 2 T flour, add wine, optional: add demi glace (I added a little broth), add carrots and meat back to pot, add water to cover. Simmer for 2 hours or until beef is tender.

I had this dish in France and it also included lardons, which I thought were a great addition. Was that an anomaly? Even if it's unconventional, I might have to add them to the dish when making this recipe....

I find the recipe in les Halles to be excellent once you add the lardons. Without the lardons, there is really a layer of flavor missing. I've never had boeuf bourguignon in France served without lardons.

I made the Clafoutis recently. It's really simple and wonderful thanks to the generous amount of booze. I used high quality Swiss Kirshwasser/eau de vie (3 oz!). I need to find something a little cheaper if I want to make the recipe more often.

Here is the clafoutis after coming out of the oven, dusted in powdered sugar (my hand was a little heavy).

6190948130_779651187d_z.jpg

Slice

6190949864_8b05c163f3_z.jpg

The clafoutis is quite eggy as it should be. Most other clafoutis recipes use milk, and this one has the particularity of not using any. But actually I think I prefer it that way, very thick. I pitted the cherries, as specified in the recipe, even though I am normally too lazy for that extra step. But my American husband is paranoid about his teeth. :rolleyes:

Also this was an excuse to get this super cute cherry pitter that my daughter loves to use.

If anybody's interested, the Clafoutis recipe is available on Google books.

[edited to add link to recipe]

Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)
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I agree about the lardons; they improve the dish enormously. I also agree about the clafoutis, which is easy, reliable, and delicious. Don't miss the salt roasted potatoes, which are terrific for fingerlings.

This is, after Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain's best book, It seems to be a restaurant book, or maybe a French cookbook, but it's really an exceptional book about effective shortcuts for familiar bistro food, He's got a very different set of trade-offs from what used to be conventional wisdom; for example, Julia dismissed Demi-glace but would never have left the bacon out of boeuf bourg.

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This is still my "go-to" cookbook. Bouchon is more authentic. Julia's bibliography is more complete. But this book can take a passionate but inexperienced home cook and teach him or her the basics. And it's written from a "cooking in a restaurant and bringing that into the home" viewpoint. That is clutch, in my opinion.

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This is still my "go-to" cookbook. Bouchon is more authentic. Julia's bibliography is more complete. But this book can take a passionate but inexperienced home cook and teach him or her the basics. And it's written from a "cooking in a restaurant and bringing that into the home" viewpoint. That is clutch, in my opinion.

I suspect that Bouchon might be a little more involved, and that recipes in Mastering the Art may be more "adapted" to the American public of the 1960s, but I don't own either of these books. For something more "complete" I turn myself to The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan, which is a great reference. Les Halles has a lot of good classic recipes with techniques that are simple, traditional French home-cooking at its best in my opinion, plus of course the hilarious commentary from Bourdain.

Here is the Pot-au-Feu (subtitled "How to Make a Frenchman Cry") that I made earlier this year. It is very close to what my mom used to make when I grew up, including the traditional garnishes (cornichons, mustard, gros sel (large-grained sea salt)). My mom made it with beef tongue which is not really "traditional" as far as I can tell, maybe just a family tradition. In Les Halles, the pot-au-feu is made with a wonderful combination of cuts: shoulder or brisket (I substituted flank as I was cooking only for 4 people), oxtail, short ribs, veal shank. Bourdain uses cabbage, carrots, leeks, onions, potatoes, celery root. I skipped the cabbage and replaced the celery root with a turnip to match my mom's recipe. Also cabbage seemed a little place for me in pot-au-feu but that may just be me - I don't claim to be an expert on the subject. :smile:

Giant pile of meat and vegetables, with a bowl of consommé on the side (which I forgot to degrease properly - an important step which is actually omitted in the recipe), whole-grain mustard, cornichons, sea salt, crusty peasant bread (marrow receptacle). Pure comfort food!

5741979806_a63c78f054_z.jpg

annecros documented this recipe on the Pot-au-Feu cook-off thread quite thoroughly here.

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I can be soooo numb. When I saw this thread come back up I thought I better order the book from Amazon. Fortunately, I noticed I already have it on the bookshelf before I ordered it again....

The local fish shop carries salt cod fillets and I want to try out Bourdain's recipe on page 70. Been meaning to do this since I got the book.

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