cover image Try This at Home

Try This at Home

Richard Blais. Clarkson Potter, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-98527-9

One expects innovation from a Top Chef All-Stars winner, and Richard Blais delivers with this quirky yet reverent collection of recipes. Blais' own emphasis on herbs and acidity begins with his pantry of homemade condiments%E2%80%94violet mustard, umami ketchup, and "everything bagel" vinaigrette. Comfort foods are remixed to transcend the typical savory and sweet categories: Oatmeal Risotto, Macaroni and Headcheese, Black Olive Chocolate Cake, a P%C3%A2t%C3%A9 Melt with cr%C3%A8me fraiche, truffle oil, and ligonberry preserves. These are, for the most part, labor-intensive enterprises, designed for the serious home cook. Budding molecular gastronomes with sous-vide machines and smoking guns will find lessons in food science here (liquid nitrogen-frozen gazpacho; yogurt foam), as well as variations that might sub out geoduck clams for pasta or aerate the cheesecake batter instead of baking it. Alternating photos with hand-drawn images from his journal, Blais never seems to run out of interesting ideas for elevating technique and reinventing the classics while keeping the proceedings colorful and fun. Color photos. (Feb.)