Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Cranky’s all finished with his Christmas shopping, but this book wasn't on my list (and you can’t always trust Santa to be resourceful on Christmas Eve) — so I bought it for myself.
It was enthusiastically recommended by Michael Ruhlman on his blog, for one thing. Ruhlman is a maverick cook, a brash poet who can give Anthony Bourdain what for and get away with it… and the fact that he is good-looking had nothing at all to do with my falling under his spell.
No, it was just that I loved the idea of a book about Michel Richard’s clever techniques for the home cook. Like using Saran wrap to coax food into tube shapes — something I’d already done, with Jacques Pepin’s recipe for pork sausage – but in ever expanding possibilities: Spuddies, anybuddy? They’re sorta like Tater Tots. Cute. Doable.
Oh, and that recipe employs another technique I learned from “Happy in the Kitchen,” using gelatin to bind food, and then allowing the heat of cooking to melt it away.
Wait, one more technique from the Spuddies recipe: Whirling raw potatoes in the food processor with water, to create chunks instead of goo. (You drain them afterward.)
Anyway, probably too much information to digest here in a single post (and there's much more to talk about; it's not all fun tricks — there are serious recipes I want to attempt*), but I’m really excited about the book.
Imagine my chagrin, though, when I went to the bookstore and discovered it’s a “coffee-table book” — big and heavy, almost too big for the average kitchen counter, and filled with super photographs.
With a forward by Thomas Keller (whose French Laundry Cookbook still dazzles me, but I’ve never tried a single recipe from it — although I was tempted by those beautiful potato crisps with the chive spikes inside... Ah, who cares, I've got Spuddies).
I wavered for a moment.
Then I discovered this cartoon-y self portrait and Richard's autograph on the title page.
I had to have it.

*OK: Scrambled scallops. Onion pasta. Spinach "brownies." Fake caviar. Fun fun fun.


Greg said...

good looking does seem to have a positive effect. Nigella Lawson has my attention lately. Dpn't tell my wife;)

Stacie said...

wow! any cookbook with a plan for replacing tater totos with a home made version would fit in to my evil plan! can't wait to here more!!!

Moonbear said...

Wow- Sanity Claus came early! Lucky you. I am still salivating looking at your latkes. It must be potato season. Ta!

cookiecrumb said...

Greg: Yeah, Cranky had a fit when he read it. A "cute" fit; we kissed and made out. I mean "up." :-D

Stacie: Evil plan! Bwa-ha-hah! Isn't that cool? I can't wait to try 'em. Maybe I'll post the recipe.

Moonbear: I know; lucky (spendy) me. I hadn't even realized I was blogging about potatoes two days in a row. Somethin' in the air.

Sam said...

I have it too! After reading Ruhlman. But I haven't even finished flicking through it since Menu for Hope took up every spare second and then some of my past two weeks.

Maybe I'll make something for christmas eve from there.

we will see.

looks hard to me.

cookiecrumb said...

Yo Sam: Maybe not so "hard" as just "different." I think you will flip when you reach the dessert chapter.
My only problem now is deciding whether to invest in a meat slicer, because he uses one to scientifically sever his clever tubes of Saran-wrapped foods into thin, thin discs.

Stacie said...

please post that tater tot recipie and one of yer loverly photos!!