Here is the first English-language cookbook from the Parisian cooking school whose very name epitomizes excellence. Le Cordon Bleu at Home provides a solid understanding of the philosophy and skills taught for nearly a century in the school's nine-month "Classic Cycle" course. Moving through three stages, from basic to advanced techniques, this in-depth approach to classical French cuisine offers a series of easy-to-follow menus and recipes that correspond to classes at the school. Nearly three hundred beautiful color photographs depict finished dishes, serving ideas, and cooking techniques at each stage through completion.
Learning to cook means mastering the fundamentals. In "Part One: Getting Started," you'll learn how to roast, poach, fry, saute, braise, and stew. You'll learn which cuts of meat are most appropriate for a dish, which utensils to use and how to use them, and preliminary preparations that simplify tasks. The menus focus on basic dishes from roast chicken and lamb to pan-fried sole, apple fritters, and poached fruit.
"Part Two: Perfecting Skills" takes you through pastry-making and introduces such preparations as pâtés, soufflés, consommés, and more. This is where you'll find such glorious dishes as Daube d'Agneau Avignonnaise (braised lamb cooked as it is in Avignon), Tournedos Baltimore (tenderloin steaks with Chateaubriand sauce), and Pilaf de Volaille à la Turque (Turkish-style pilaf with zucchini and oranges), created by Henri-Paul Pellaprat, one of the school's most famous instructors.
Ultimately, no one truly "finishes" learning the best chefs endlessly hone their skills. For advanced cooks, "Part Three: Finishing Touches" emphasizes the creative aspect of cooking.
Le Cordon Bleu is the crème de la crème of cooking schools, and this is an indispensable volume for everyone interested in learning about the ageless art of French cooking. Combining time-honored traditions with the latest, most sophisticated methods and a variety of recipes ranging from standard at-home fare to classic, regional, and modern dishes, this is the ultimate state-of-the-art book on French cuisine.
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Read an Excerpt
Concombre à la Menthe
Cucumber Salad With Mint
Cucumber salad can be seasoned with either a classic vinaigrette or a cream-based dressing in which heavy cream is used rather than oil. This is a refreshing variation using yogurt instead of cream.
Note: In France, cucumbers are traditionally salted before serving in salads, which draws out natural moisture and heightens taste, but those who prefer crunchy cucumbers can omit this step if they like.
2 pounds small pickling cucumbers or 2 medium European hothouse cucumbers
2 teaspoons salt
YOGURT MINT DRESSING
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
12 large fresh mint leaves
Peel the cucumbers and slice thin. Put the slices into a colander, sprinkle with the salt and let drain 30 minutes.
Prepare the dressing: In a serving bowl, stir together the yogurt, vinegar, and a pinch of pepper. Stack 8 mint leaves one on top of the other and roll them up tight into a cylinder. Then cut the cylinder crosswise into thin slivers. Stir the mint intothe dressing.
Wrap the cucumber slices in a clean dish towel and squeeze gently to dry them. Add the cucumber to the dressing and toss. Let the salad stand 20 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with the remaining mint leaves.
Not all chickens are equal in France. The famous white-feathered birds from Bresse, nearLyon, fetch the highest prices and are remarkably tender, plump, and tasty. Like wine, they are appellation controlée (quality controlled and protected by law). Ordinary free-range birds (poulets fermier) from other regions-- particularly Périgord and the Loire Valley -- can also be excellent; when perfectly roasted and served with a simple jus, or pan juices, a bird of this quality can turn a family meal into a memorable event.
5-pound chicken, giblets removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
Several sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 425°. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water. Dry with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and then add the garlic and herbs.
Truss the chicken with kitchen twine (see technique photos on page 530): Place the chicken on its back on a work surface. Pass a long piece of kitchen twine underneath the tail. Bring the ends of the twine up around each leg and cross the ends over the top. Bring both ends of the twine under the tips of the legs and pull both ends of the twine to draw the legs together. Then draw the ends of the twine along either side of the chicken and over the wing joints. Turn the chicken over on its breast, cross the twine over the neck skin, and tighten to pull the wings to the body. Tie securely.
Rub the chicken with the butter and oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on its side in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it and roast 20 minutes. Turn the chicken on its other side and roast 20 minutes longer. Finally, turn the chicken breast side up, add 1 1/2 cup water to the pan, and continue roasting until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for at least 15 minutes after removing from the oven, covered with aluminum foil. The juices will be absorbed into the meat and carving will be easier.
While the chicken is resting, spoon off the fat in the roasting pan. Bring the remaining juices to a boil on top of the stove, scraping with a whisk to release any cooked particles that adhere to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the juices until reduced by one-third; strain.
To serve, remove the trussing twine from the chicken. Pour some of the reduced juices over the chicken and serve the remainder in a sauceboat on the side.
Petits Pois à la Française
Spring Peas With Lettuce, Chervil, and Onions
Peas should be small and squeaky fresh if you squeeze a handful of pods. In France, their season is short and demand is high. This traditional method of cooking them is by far the most popular: Peas are simmered with pearl onions and lettuce and perfumed with chervil, an herb with a mildly licorice taste.
1 small head leaf lettuce
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups shelled young peas (or 2 pounds peas in the pod, shelled)
18 pearl onions, peeled
1 small bunch chervil or parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Cut the lettuce into chiffonade (see technique photo on page 520): Stack the lettuce leaves one on top of the other and roll them up tight into a cylinder. Then cut the cylinder crosswise into thin slices.
Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the lettuce, peas, and onions to the pan and stir gently with a wooden spoon until the lettuce wilts. Tie the chervil into a bouquet with kitchen twine and add it to the pan along with 1/3 cup water, the sugar, and the salt. Cover and cook gently until the peas are tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Remove the chervil and serve.Le Cordon Bleu at Home. Copyright © by Barbara Dugan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.