By James Peterson
"After a couple of decades of anarchy and chaos in the kitchen disguised as la nouvelle cuisine, a treatise such as Sauces, grounded in common sense, infuses one with renewed faith."
So says no less an authority than Richard Olney, who as the acknowledged master of the contemporary culinary arts, possesses the perspective to judge what is merely history, and what is truly historic.
Since its publication in 1991, Sauces has proven itself a landmark work, winning The James Beard Foundation's Cookbook of the Year award, and garnering worldwide acclaim for its author, James Peterson, who with his very first book established a reputation as one of the most literate and knowledgeable individuals among the vast ranks of culinary writers.
By marrying the best of well-practiced techniques and methods with the adventurous innovation of the contemporary art, Peterson has forged a new direction for sauce making that rings as true for home cooks as it does for professional chefs. Sauces has been as much a celebration of cooking as it was a teaching volume because it is, at its heart, a reflection of Peterson's romance and devotion in the kitchen.
Sauces is firmly dedicated not only to broadening the cook's appreciation and understanding of sauce-making's traditional principles, but also to empowering the reader to become an adept improviser. We are reminded that cooking is an art, and no art can thrive without the freedom to change and evolve.
More than just a compendium of recipes, Sauces explains how and why the ingredients of a sauce are combined. Structured around the framework of classical French cooking, it provides in thorough detail explanations of, and instructions for, preparing both traditional and contemporary versions of most every sauce imaginable. Classic white and brown sauces, both starch-thickened and flourless; popular meat and fish sauces made with drippings and juices; sauces based on egg yolks, including bèarnaise, hollandaise, mayonnaise and their variations; sauces made with butter, including the beurre blanc-based sauces that revolutionized modern cooking; vegetable purées; dessert sauces, and many more.
The Second Edition addresses the growing appreciation for Asian cuisine, whose bold flavors have helped make it a staple of the modern healthy diet. Peterson serves up an overview of both ingredients and techniques for a collection of favorite Asian recipes.
Pasta sauces, which were absent in the first edition, get Peterson's meticulous treatment here, and the techniques for making other types of sauces can be used here to create flavorful and satisfying dishes. Peterson goes straight to the heart of the culinary art to explain, in plain language, how ingredients work together, and groups the recipes according to their basic ingredients such as olive oil, seafood, and vegetables. As always, Peterson reminds the reader that the recipes are ultimately a guide, and encourages cooks to explore great new tastes through their own creative efforts.
Joining the more than 500 recipes in the Second Edition are the author's 190 color photographs that clearly illustrate the fundamentals of good sauce making. Peterson also provides a practical discussion of pairing wine and food, as well as guidelines for improvisation and tips for restaurant chefs. A new bibliography and source list of purveyors enables readers to expand their knowledge and enhance their creativity, all in all making a must-have reference for one of the most exciting and challenging areas of cooking.
Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making
By James Peterson
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998
Hardback, $ 44.95
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created December 2001
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