Think of this book as an invitation to come over to our house for a meal. Like most gatherings here, it will be accompanied by plenty of interesting conversation about food (French people love to talk about food almost as much as they enjoy eating it), spiced with reminiscences, stories, perhaps a little gossip, and of course, generous pouring of wine.
Most of the two-dozen cookbooks I have written over the past four decades have adhered to specific themes: fast cooking, French cooking, economical cooking, healthy cooking…. For this book, mindful that as I approach eighty years old I have a limited number of cookbooks in my future, I decided to gather a collection of recipes that I cook at home today.
–From the Introduction
From one of the world’s most popular chefs and cooking teachers comes the ultimate cookbook JACQUES PEPIN HEART AND SOUL IN THE KITCHEN by Jacques Pépin (Rux Martin Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, October 6, 2015). This impressive collection will be published in celebration of Jacques’ 80th birthday and the airing of his final PBS show Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul to which this book is a companion.
Offered among these pages is an intimate look at one of America’s most famous culinary masters at home with family and long-time friends — the simple dinners he prepares for his wife, like the world’s best burgers (the secret is ground brisket) or broiled sole with chive butter. Here as well are elegant dinners for small gatherings, which might begin with tantalizing starters, like Smoked Salmon & Corn Fritter, and conclude with foolproof little chocolate soufflés that can be prepped in advance. Then there are dishes for spirited pétanques parties in Jacques’ backyard, with dishes like grilled chicken tenderloin in an Argentinean chimichurri sauce of cilantro and scallions.
While many of the 200 recipes featured are of course French inspired, from Jacques’ childhood and beyond, others reflect the many global culinary influences that have been played a part in the evolution of his cooking.
“Many of the dishes in this book date back to my childhood. Others have been picked up as I learned about American food and traveled the world tasting Asian and Latin American cuisine. Whatever its origins, in my kitchen, a recipe is never carved in stone or static but a living thing that will change subtly—and occasionally not-so subtly—according to whim, new flavors that have inspired me, the discovery of more expedient ways to arrive at the result I want, or simply what happens to be in my refrigerator. When I codify a recipe, write it down, and publish it in a book, the result seems dead to me. I know that at home I will always be tinkering with the dish and thinking about new and better flavors and ingredients to substitute.”
This masterful chef, at 80 years old, remains highly relevant and influential in today’s culinary landscape. A lifelong advocate of nose-to-tail eating, Jacques includes recipes for calves’ liver and lambs’ tongues. An unabashed lover of supermarkets and the variety they offer, he shares how to elevate convenience food into an impromptu feast. A longtime locavore, he shares recipes for the bounty he forages from both nearby land and sea. The result is simple, honest, proven recipes that home cooks will turn to again and again.
“Creation in the kitchen, for me, means constantly improving the familiar, tweaking and whittling all of my recipes over the years in a never ending process of making them better and reducing complication until I arrive at their essential qualities. The result is really tasty food that I (and you) can make as quickly and easily as possible.”
Filled with thoughtful narrative, on everything from heartfelt reminiscences and stories to practical sidebars, JACQUES PEPIN HEART AND SOUL IN THE KITCHEN reveals the unique philosophy of the man who taught millions of Americans how to cook. Here among the dozens and dozens of sought after recipes are Jacques’ candid and clever opinions on everything from molecular gastronomy to memories of famous friends and colleagues.
“Pleasant dining also requires pleasant, interesting conversation. I have included snippets of text throughout the book drawn from conversations that have taken place in my kitchen. More than one guest has looked shocked when I pulled a fistful of wilted lettuce or a plastic bag of dry, cracked hunks of miscellaneous cheeses out of the fridge, until I assure her that—trust me—they will become the base of a terrific dish. Someone’s comment about the vast array of knives in the block on my counter might inspire a discussion about what to look for in a good knife or a philosophical pronouncement on the value of a sharp knife. The gallery of photographs on our hallway wall will provoke questions about what it was like to cook with James Beard, Julia Child, and other ‘greats.’
Illustrated throughout with Jacques’ watercolors and more than 100 full-color photos of the food and the chef in his element, this cookbook is a testament to a culinary master’s life’s work.
“In all cases, these recipes recreate the foods I really eat and love to enjoy with those dearest to me. They represent my culinary heart and soul.”
One of the world’s most famous cooking teachers, Jacques Pépin has published more than twenty-five cookbooks, including his new cookbook Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul in the Kitchen, Essential Pépin and his memoir, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen (December 2015 reissue with forward by Anthony Bourdain). He has also starred in fourteen acclaimed cooking series on public television and is a contributing editor to Food & Wine magazine. Jacques shares his knowledge through the curriculum and teaching at International Culinary Center (founded as The French Culinary Institute), where he has been a dean since joining in 1988. Before coming to the United States, Jacques served as the personal chef to Charles de Gaulle. He has won many accolades and awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation in 2005, several IACP Cookbook Awards, and the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction. He lives with his wife, Gloria, in Madison, Connecticut.
ABOUT THE PUBLIC TELEVISION SERIES JACQUES PEPIN: HEART & SOUL
Produced by KQED, the PBS and NPR affiliate that serves Northern California, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul is the revered chef’s most personal television series. Like in his previous series, Pépin teaches the skills necessary for success in the kitchen, shares favorite recipes and demonstrates the timeless cooking techniques that make him a master. But Heart & Soul reveals more about Pépin to viewers than ever before. Joined by family and friends, Pépin reflects on his 60 years in the kitchen and in front of the camera with never-before-seen footage from Pépin at home and favorite clips from his earlier series. The 26-episode series is set to broadcast on PBS stations in fall of 2015. KQED will be producing a mobile-friendly website for the series, which will feature recipes, clips and full episodes. For more information, please visit http://blogs.kqed.org/pressroom/heart-and-soul/.
Photo Credit: Tom Hopkins
JACQUES PEPIN’S HEART AND SOUL IN THE KITCHEN
by Jacques Pépin
A Rux Martin Book/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $35/harcover; October 6, 2015
Also by Jacques Pépin
THE APPRENTICE: My Life in the Kitchen
A Rux Martin Book/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $17.95/paperback; December 8, 2015