Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Artisan; First Edition edition (November 6, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 1.3 x 11.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 5.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (287 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #5,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #8 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Cooking Methods > Gourmet #32 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Celebrities & TV Shows #52 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > U.S. Regional
Although I've only had Thomas Keller's ad hoc for a short time, I ready love it and have found many things that make it a must-buy if you're a lover of food or books about food. Keller's quote on the back of the book really sums up the theme of this book: "...a big collection of family meals and everyday staples, delicious approachable food, recipes that are doable at home. No immersion circulator required. No complicated garnishes. I promise!"Keller delivers on this promise in ad hoc. The book assumes far less prerequisite knowledge than his other books, The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Under Pressure. In fact, the first section of the book is called "Becoming a better chef," and Keller outlines the techniques, ingredients, and tools that can help anyone become a better home cook.I own all 3 of Keller's other books, and regularly cook from them. This is, by far, the most accessible book for the casual home cook. The recipes in here can easily be made as weeknight meals--most don't require any excessive time demands or preparation. Many of the recipes are dishes you're probably familiar with: chicken pot pie, fried chicken, braised short ribs, beef stroganoff, apple fritters, chocolate brownies, etc. But, this being a Thomas Keller book, many of these classic dishes are refined and made more elegant. For example, his beef stroganoff uses fresh cremini mushrooms, creme fraiche, braised short ribs, and pappardelle pasta. All of the recipes I've made have turned out perfectly so far, which has been the case with his previous books.Consistent with his previous books, the look of ad hoc is beautiful. It's also a nice change to see Keller's fun side featured, and he's displayed in a number of whimsical photographs throughout the book, warning you: "shh...
As Ruth Reichl recently said on Fresh Air, if it's four o'clock at work, and you're trying to decide what to have for dinner, you've already half-lost the battle. You can't start out from that position with most of the recipes in this book. What I'm trying to say is that these recipes take something most cookbooks and even television shows that are about food avoid: time and advanced planning. Most of the recipes contain sub-recipes. Most of the chicken and pork dishes require brining, and many dishes require some type of stock. However, most of the time consuming processes in the book don't require much active time, but they do require planning. I'm not putting this up as a negative. In fact, so many wonderful things about cooking simply require time. My first Thomas Keller cookbook was Bouchon, and some of the more time-consuming components used there (soffritto, tomato confit (in Ad Hoc oven roasted tomatoes), garlic confit, duck confit, preserved lemons, peeled shelled fava beans before blanching) make an appearance in this cookbook as well. The first reaction I had to cooking things for more than four hours, which some of these require in total time, was incredulity. Seriously? MORE than four hours? Having eaten at TK's restaurants I put my trust in him, and I learned how wonderful things happen when food is given time.If you've been cooking for many years some of the tips you may have known: put a towel under your cutting board, you only really need four knives, some salts weigh differently; however, others will most likely be new if you haven't cooked out of TK's other cookbooks. Thinking back on the difficulties I had when I first started cooking, how I wish all of these things had been spelled out to me as clearly and as simply as they are in this book.
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