Jacques Pepin, Author, Ben Fink, Photographer . Houghton Mifflin $30 (240p) ISBN 978-0-618-39312-1

Longtime fans of Pepin may cherish their copies of La Méthode , a gorgeously lush cookbook that devotes pages to his elaborate knife technique. But no one can accuse Pepin of falling behind the times. If the great French chef and popular peer to the late Julia Child misses the days of food as elaborate edible sculpture, he's keeping it to himself, cheerfully hosting a PBS series (Fast Food My Way ) and now penning this companion book. "More often than not, I prefer simple, straightforward food that can be prepared quickly," Pepin swears, and most of the recipes stick to that statement, sometimes to excess: recipes that do little more than suggest readers add boiling water to couscous or try microwaving their potato probably add little to the repertoire of even minimally experienced chefs. The cookbook's best sections take traditional French food—braised endive, beef stew—and show readers how to skip steps to achieve a different but similarly pleasing result. Although Pepin has always packaged himself brilliantly, some of his recipe names could use a redesign: Soupy Rice and Peas hardly stimulates the appetite, and Tomato Tartare with Tomato Water Sauce actively turns it off. Other charming recipes, however, invoke the same aspirational lifestyle that older, elaborate cookbooks do, but with a different spin: Pepin says his recipe for Banana Bourbon Coupe was just something he whipped up one afternoon fresh off the slopes, making the best of the few ingredients on hand. French cooking, Pepin reminds us, is not just a matter of technique; it's a matter of chic. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/30/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-547-34752-3
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