In this cookbook designed to accompany Julia Child’s public television series “Cooking With Master Chefs,” sixteen American chefs choose their favorite recipes from their own kitchens and Child adapts them for nonprofessional cooks. Although the recipes are within the range of the good cook’s competence, it must be noted that both ingredients and presentation are fancier than the ordinary family expects. The cookbook will most likely appeal to the gourmet cook, not to the harried homemaker trying to fix family meals that please everyone.
Each recipe begins with an introduction to the chef, followed by his or her tips on how to proceed most efficiently through the recipe. These dishes are contemporary concoctions, not old favorites. They show how ingredients are being combined in novel ways and served at prestigious restaurants. Photographs of some of the preparations and of the finished dishes give an idea of what to expect.
Unless one’s kitchen is exceptionally well-stocked, choosing a recipe from this book will also require additions to a shopping list and possibly trips to specialty stores. Nearly every recipe includes something along the lines of fresh ginger, dried shrimp, watercress, leeks, fennel bulbs, capers, anchovies, porcini or other wild mushrooms, chipolte chili, cumin seeds, cilantro, ti leaves, creme fraiche, broccoli di rape, orecchiette paste, capellini, or walnut oil. Some recipes with hard-to-find ingredients do suggest substitutions that are possible. In most cases, the unusual ingredient makes the difference between a common dish and a chef-quality one, so that leaving it out is not an option. A brief appendix includes a few explanations of techniques and culinary terms.