Cookbook Profile

Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef

By Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman


"As Mark Bittman so correctly states in his informative introduction, one of the many talents of Jean-Georges is his capacity to make what seem like simple preparations taste so incredibly complex.

This book makes his skills readily available to the home cook."

...Daniel Boulud, chef/owner of Restaurant Daniel and Cafe Boulud.

Regular customers to Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants and food enthusiasts from coast to coast have anticipated Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef as eagerly as they would the debut of one of Vongerichten's celebrated restaurants. Jean-Georges, written in an inspired and seamless collaboration with Mark Bittman, whose New York Times column "The Minimalist" is renowned for its pared-down approach to cooking, makes the recipes of one of the nation's most influential and respected culinary superstars achievable for home cooks of all levels.

For both Vongerichten and his diverse network of fans, the book comes at a time when the chef's creative powers and his reputation have reached a summit-last year, his restaurant Jean-Georges was awarded a coveted four-star review from the New York Times, and this spring he won three James Beard Foundation Awards, including induction into "Who's Who of Food and Beverage" and recognition as the "Outstanding Chef" in the nation. Having won the Foundation's award for "Best Chef in New York City" in 1996, Vongerichten, with restaurants in Hong Kong and London, now casts a shadow of culinary influence over much of the world.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Jean-Georges, is that it reveals a talent for conjuring new and unforgettable sensations from staggeringly simple combinations and techniques. Even Bittman, the Minimalist himself, was stunned to learn that Vongerichten employs restaurant recipes so elementary that most of them did not need to be reconceived at all for the book. As Bittman states in his introduction, "when other chefs would just be gearing up, his dishes were already done. They not only sound simple... they are simple."

For example, the sauce for Vongerichten's legendary "Steak with Red Wine Reduction and Carrot purée," is prepared by reducing a bottle of wine to a cup and stirring in carrot purée. The same philosophy informs most of the recipes in the book, which showcases short ingredient lists, uncomplicated steps, and simple presentations, allowing home cooks to prepare such famous restaurant recipes as Marinated Quail, Vong-Style or Curried Mussels from Restaurant Jean Georges.

Among the other dishes that await the reader are Dill-Stuffed Shrimp with Baked Lemon, which the authors created after a day spent foraging near Bittman's home; Leek and Potato Tarts, which find a timeless combination of flavors reborn in an innovative context; Beet Tartare, a vegetarian alternative to beef tartare, perfect for picnics; Scallops and Cauliflower with Caper-Raisin Sauce, a beguiling signature dish that has been served at Restaurant Jean Georges since its opening; Halibut en Papillote, featuring a technique that teaches the reader to substitute aluminum foil for the classic parchment paper pouch; the remarkably simple Gently Cooked Salmon with Mashed Potatoes; Duck a la JoJo, which boasts a complex sauce comprising such disparate ingredients as maple syrup, coriander seeds, and ground ginger, and for dessert, such delectables as Apple Confit and the often-imitated Warm, Soft Chocolate Cake.

A chapter on techniques, stocks, and sauces offers an invaluable glossary of the ingredients that appear frequently in Jean-Georges' recipes, as well as instructions, demonstrated via photographs, that describe how to execute such basic tasks as cutting up a chicken for sautéing and how to trim lemongrass, as well as a unique technique for extracting pulp from a tomato. A selection of stock recipes (including a priceless "Chicken Stock a la Minute," a lifesaver which cooks in just 30 minutes), sauces (such as Vong's famous Peanut Sauce), and vinaigrettes rounds out the timeless advice featured in this one-of-a-kind chef book that demonstrates that Jean-Georges Vongerichten's cooking is as remarkable for its simplicity as it is for its brilliance.


Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef
By Jean-Georges Vongerichten
and Mark Bittman
Broadway Books
Hardcover; 288 pages; $35.00
ISBN: 0-7679-0155-X
Information provided by the publisher.


Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef



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This page created November 1998