cover image Simply French: Patricia Wells Presents the Cuisine of Joel Robuchon

Simply French: Patricia Wells Presents the Cuisine of Joel Robuchon

Patricia Wells. William Morrow & Company, $35 (367pp) ISBN 978-0-688-06642-0

This new release by the author of Bistro Cooking could inspire a cooks' triathlon--a stampede to the closest bookstore, a sprint to a neighboring market, then back to the kitchen and any one of Wells's 125 magnificent recipes. Adapting the work of Robuchon, chef and owner of Paris's three-star restaurant Jamin, the American, French-by-adoption Wells exchanges the easy swagger of her Bistro recipes (most of which assured cooks that preparing great meals is uncomplicated) for an almost religious insistence on detail. ``Simplicity'' here is no synonym for streamlining. Rather, it inspires a quest for pure and intense flavor. Thus a recipe for roast chicken specifies exactly when to season the bird and precisely how to position it during and after cooking--with superb results. Not all recipes are as basic; foie gras and truffles crop up repeatedly. Nor is this a tutorial. Wells supplies insightful tips but assumes that the reader has mastered standard techniques. Just about every offering is a knockout, but a few deserve special mention: a potato gratin slightly different from and even better than the one in Bistro ; a blanquette of veal; five variations on the madeleine; and a bittersweet chocolate mousse distinguished by the incorporation of stiffly whipped cream. Menu plans and wine suggestions are included. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Nov.)