Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 56.
- Review Date: 2008-11-17
- Reviewer: Staff
The origins of sous vide cooking, or vacuum-packing foods and cooking them at precise, relatively low temperatures for long periods, may have been largely in frozen convenience foods, but it has become standard in top kitchens worldwide, notably Keller’s own. Now, Keller aims to demonstrate the technique to a wider swath of cooks—not the masses, but at least those who can afford this lavish volume and the sous vide equipment. One need not cook the exact recipes (which are unaltered from the restaurant’s) to be inspired by Keller’s careful yet whimsical creations, such as a cuttlefish “tagliatelle” with palm hearts and nectarine or squab with piquillo peppers, marcona almonds, fennel and date sauce. And Keller, with several of his chefs as well as “curious cook” Harold McGee, takes pains in the introduction to explain sous vide fundamentals, arguing persuasively that it is not a fad but an important technique that allows unparalleled control over how ingredients are heated and what flavors and textures result. Still, at least until the equipment is more affordable, most readers will admire this gorgeous book on their coffee tables, from the simple beauty of photos of ingredients in their natural states to plates with a course’s elements so artfully arranged they would not be out of place in a modern art museum. (Dec.)
Grand gifts for gastronomes
Next, we'll head to Per Se in New York or The French Laundry in the Napa Valley, where the revered Thomas Keller's new heating methods are showcased and now revealed in his new book, Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide. It's a gorgeous, large-format, color photo-filled introduction to what Harold McGee calls "a lasting contribution to fine cooking, a technique that makes it possible to cook foods more consistently and delicately than ever before." The recipes here are detailed, the techniques parsed, but unless you have the special equipment (Keller thinks you may have it soon), you'll have to settle for this exciting armchair experience. A must for serious followers of cutting-edge cuisine.