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bilrus

Five courses from the French Laundry Cookbook

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Thanks Bill. I enjoyed following the whole experience. I received a copy of TFL about 5 months ago and as I paged through I kept thinking whether I would ever actually attempt one of the recipes. I think you just gave me the inspiration.


"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Although I'm inspired by the success of this project, I'm still afraid to try it on my own.

First, I've looked through the cookbook and picked out several dishes from each course that sound good. The fish course and the meat course are the two I'm most unsure of. I've never cooked fish before. I know, that sounds strange, but neither my husband or I are big fans of seafood, so we only eat it when we go somewhere really nice and we know the quality will be high. When perusing the recipes, I was tempted to try one of the lobster recipes, but when I read what goes into the preparation - steeping them, pulling off some parts, making stock, pulling out the meat, cooking that in butter...well, I am intimidated. Then I moved on to look at a foie gras recipes, which again, had so many steps that I have no experience with. Lastly, I looked at the meat recipes. I don't mind involved sauces and multiple steps, but I am again intimidated by the cleaning and boning, removing organs and stripping membranes.

Then, there is the problem finding ingrediants in the middle of rural Indiana. You would think there would be lots of great produce around, but I have looked for fresh peas here for years, and have yet to run across them. I check the farmer's market every week during spring without luck. I definitely don't have a green thumb, so I can't grow them myself and do't know anyone who does. Fresh seafood is impossible. Cheese is difficult as well, but I can order that online without losing too much...

In the end, I don't think I'm ready. I definitely can't afford it right now.

The whole thing makes me appreciate what bilrus did even more. :raz:

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I don't have the book, but this has really inspired me to do something father out of my culinary comfort zone! Thank you so much for this and for the detailed rundown at the end. It was really helpful.

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The cost of labour(cooking and shopping) would increase the cost beyond 180.50, assuming you had to pay yourselves. :rolleyes: . Just a random thought!

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Congratulations bilrus! I've really enjoyed following along. It looks like things turned out really well and you had a great experience. I think it is almost right to have one dish not quite work but leave you with ides to make it work -- somehow validating the effort you put into it (and Keller too).

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Add me to the "Great Job " group. My kids bought the book for me last year, but I have not tried cooking anything. I may try the tart - you're picture made me hungry for it. I'm drinking tea as I read this and it would go so well.

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[...]I now want to go back to FL desperately.  I'm amazed by the amount of thought and work that goes into putting a meal like this, much less a nine course tasting menu, then doing it for 30 or 50 or 100 tables a night, six our seven nights a week.  And on top of that the pressure of turning out these complex dishes consistently and excellently all the time is staggering to me.[...]

Sure, it's quite an undertaking, but remember that they are able to do things in a kind of assembly line fashion, whereas you did all this almost by yourself.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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The cost of labour(cooking and shopping) would increase the cost beyond 180.50, assuming you had to pay yourselves.  :rolleyes: . Just a random thought!

Bill Russell

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[...]I now want to go back to FL desperately.  I'm amazed by the amount of thought and work that goes into putting a meal like this, much less a nine course tasting menu, then doing it for 30 or 50 or 100 tables a night, six our seven nights a week.  And on top of that the pressure of turning out these complex dishes consistently and excellently all the time is staggering to me.[...]

Sure, it's quite an undertaking, but remember that they are able to do things in a kind of assembly line fashion, whereas you did all this almost by yourself.


Bill Russell

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Bill:

I really appreciate the answers to all our questions.


**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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This thread belongs in the egullet hall of fame.

I agree -- done!

I'm humbled that my virtual bust has been enshrined. Do I get a hideous yellow sportcoat like the Pro Football Hall of Fame?


Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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The cost of labour(cooking and shopping) would increase the cost beyond 180.50, assuming you had to pay yourselves.  :rolleyes: . Just a random thought!

I wish I could have figured out a way to do that.

I always ask myself -- if I could have gotten four hours of freelance work I could have afforded the meal and spent a lot less time on it. :laugh:

One about the French Laundry Cookbook is that, at least at my level, you learn something new with every recipe and it makes all your cooking better and tastier, and everything goes a lot quicker once you do it a couple of times. The ROI, as long as we're getting all finance-y, is extraordinary.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Great job Bill. I have some questions.

The pea soup looked awesome - how long did it take to schuck the peas? I don't have the book with me in work - did the recipe call for one pound of peas or more? Do you think you had enough to serve six people?

The duck breast - how thick was the finished product before cooking? How did you purchase this - was it packaged from D'artangan or another producer?

Thank you for sharing - great project. Certainly deserves the Hall of Fame!

Rich


Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Great job Bill. I have some questions.

The pea soup looked awesome - how long did it take to schuck the peas? I don't have the book with me in work - did the recipe call for one pound of peas or more? Do you think you had enough to serve six people?

The duck breast - how thick was the finished product before cooking? How did you purchase this - was it packaged from D'artangan or another producer?

Thank you for sharing - great project. Certainly deserves the Hall of Fame!

Rich

The recipe calls for 3 pounds of (what I assumed to mean) unshcuked peas. I think it took my wife about a half hour or so to shuck them while she was watching TV. Busboy recommended doing this while sitting on a rocking chair on the front porch. I could see that working too. Pretty mindless work.

If you had a good tamis (rather than a standard strainer), you could probably get a little more puree than I did. I ended up with about 1 and a half cups of finished soup. It could probably serve six as an amuse - like in a demitasse cup or the "Oysters and Pearls" bowl I used in the picture.

One thing I didn't mention about the soup earlier. The parmesan crisps looked very nice, but neither of us really liked them as an accompaniment to this soup. Maybe if we served it warm, it might have made a difference.

The duck breast I used was a prepackaged one from d'Artangan. It was about 7 inches long and the closest I can come to describing its circumference when rolled is about the size of a golf ball.


Bill Russell

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This thread belongs in the egullet hall of fame.

I agree -- done!

I'm humbled that my virtual bust has been enshrined. Do I get a hideous yellow sportcoat like the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

How 'bout bright pea green -- like Tiger's coat at the Masters this year, and like your soup!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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As a side note to all of this, my microwave is now functioning again thanks to a replaced thermostat and $175 to the repairman.


Bill Russell

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As a side note to all of this, my microwave is now functioning again thanks to a replaced thermostat and $175 to the repairman.

$175 to repair?! You must have one kick-ass microwave, my friend! For that fee, you could buy two of our microwaves and still have money left over for a couple dozen NY system weiners!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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As a side note to all of this, my microwave is now functioning again thanks to a replaced thermostat and $175 to the repairman.

$175 to repair?! You must have one kick-ass microwave, my friend! For that fee, you could buy two of our microwaves and still have money left over for a couple dozen NY system weiners!

I know - It is the over-the stove type that is also the light and the exhaust fan for the stove. The cheapest I found a new one online was $400 unistalled and the other sourses were like $550. So this seems like a bargain. The repairman was probably more expensive than I needed to pay - he was straight from GE - but it was pretty painless.


Bill Russell

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I've been lurking in this thread for a few days, and all I have to say is wow!

Wow to bilrus for doing this and sharing it; and wow to the Gulleteers whose encouragement, etc., I'm sure helps a lot...this is a great place, really, isn't it!

:biggrin:


Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Ditto, *Deborah*

I also have been lurking. Bilrus, this was truly fantastic. Thanks for letting us "eat" with you. Was there any part of this process you would not want to do again (Other than needing a new microwave)?


Edited by emmapeel (log)

Emma Peel

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Ditto, *Deborah*

I also have been lurking. Bilrus, this was truly fantastic.  Thanks for letting "eat" with you.  Was there any part of this process you would not want to do again?

No, I'd do it all again - although not right away. :raz:

If I was just looking to make a meal, even if I was entertaining and I wanted to impress people with my cooking ability (which isn't very often) I don't think this is the route I would go. I'd rather cook some things that I am more comfrotable with combined with a few things that take me out on the edge a little bit. I might use some of the recipes from the book and work them into the meal or I might use techniques or certain elements in other dishes.

In fact I've already got an idea in my head of making a gazpacho gelatin with tomato water this summer.

But one of the things I got out of it and one of the reasons I'd do it all again is the idea of setting my mind to this, in an area I'm not entirely comfortable and accomplishing it, almost without a hitch. It was a challenge to myself and I passed it.

But this makes this all seem like a very serious, self-help workshop kind of thing and it wasn't. I had fun. jenrus and I ate some good food. And I think I entertained a few of you along the way.

I said in my first post:

I hope a few people enjoy following along (actually my first goal is for me to enjoy this, and then my wife who has to eat the dinner, but you are all a close third).

It worked.


Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Bill, I've been thinking about this soup. I noticed how labor intensive it was for you. From the photos, I see you used a food processor to puree the peas. In hindsight, do you think a powerful blender would have made the "pressing" job a bit easier? I really do want to make that soup, but I don't own a Tamis either and I'm just trying to think about different ways to puree.


Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I just want to tell you both good luck; we're all counting on you.

(P.S. Excellent work!)


Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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