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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Thomas Keller Christmas

As I mentioned in a previous post, Santa was very good to me and my kitchen this year. A new non-stick saute pan, several cookbooks, a chinois, some prep bowls, etc. But, what was most exciting to me was a certain baking pan and cookbook, both of which have Thomas Keller all over them.

Jim knows my obsession with the chocolate "bouchons" that are sold at Bouchon Bakery. I buy at least a half-dozen every time we're in Vegas and have never let him have one - oops! So, when he saw the bouchon baking pan and the accompanying mix at Williams-Sonoma, he scooped it up for me. I'm not ususally one to seek out and buy specialty pans, but in this case, I've made an exception. I was thrilled with this gift and last weekend I used it for the first time. Super easy to make and they came out beautifully - pretty and shiny and darn close to the ones sold in the bakery.
The other gift that had me swooning was the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. Look, I freely admit that I love me some Thomas Keller. I like his philosophy about food and amazing dishes he creates. My French Laundry cookbook is lovingly kept in my kitchen, but while I love looking through it, I haven't made many recipes from it. This latest Keller cookbook, though, is so suited for me, that I almost don't know where to start first. The recipes are meant to serve 4-6 people, family style and are all dishes that are familiar, just kicked up a few notches. For example, there is a recipe for Chicken Pot Pie, but everything is made from scratch - the pie crust, the bechamel sauce, etc. The book is laid out in that beautiful coffee table book style that he is known for, but the content is so much more accesible for the home cook.

I was giddy to receive this under the tree and wanted to make something from it immediately. I thought I'd start with a softball - Roasted Chicken with Root vegetables - a one pot meal that required little prep time and sounded perfect for a cold Sunday night. Between the bouchons and the roast chicken, our house smelled like a million bucks last Sunday.
After Jim's first bite, the moan that he uttered was one of pure delight. I mean, I know it's "just" chicken, but it's like the best chicken you've ever had. And the vegetables? Really damn good. I don't even like turnips, but I like them in this dish. Follow that dinner off with a chocolate bouchon for dessert and well, we were some very happy little campers.

I have some ideas for this book that have me really excited for the upcoming year, inspired in large part by this post. No, I won't be blogging the book or anything like that. Let's just say that if you're local and we're pals, you might be seeing an email from me in the near future, with an invitation to dinner. ;)


  1. That chicken looks so flavorful and tender! And the bouchons look tasty too.

  2. yay for cooking-related presents!!! i need to try out some of the recipes in ad hoc- can't wait! i'm mildly depressed because we'll be in SF for a long weekend and FL is closed for their winter break while we'll be there so no Napa trip for us this go around.

    p.s. chicken looks FABULOUS!

  3. 1. i am convinced that a good roasting makes almost any veggie SO delicious now. (hubs will even eat roasted beets, formerly his nemesis).

    2. yay thomas keller! all that looks good.

    3. i bet that dish would be amazing with 2 cornish game hens nestled in and cooking time adjusted. plus i always like mini anything. mmm.

  4. I won't claim to want to eat that chicken, but I will say that it looks like a delicious restaurant quality meal!

  5. That chicken looks amazing.

    You know how fast and easy the 210 is for me, right. Just sayin' ...

  6. I got the French Laundry and Bouchon cookbooks for Christmas this year. I agree with your comments about Keller cookbooks, totally gorgeous, but not completely attainable for home cooks (although Bouchon is a little less daunting than FL). Ad Hoc at Home is next on my wish list. My meal there a few years ago was one of the best of my life.

    Your chicken looks divine. I might just need to get this cookbook ASAP.

  7. What a beautiful meal! I am not familiar with that cookbook but I want to check it out. And although I know this will make me sound incredibly ancient I have to say that it is refreshing to find that there are younger women that can use a stove and enjoy creating a meal. Bravo!

  8. That looks deeelicious! I shall have to look into this cookbook (though I can't honestly say I'll have the necessary skills to make anything from it).

  9. that chicken is so beautiful, it brings a tear to me eye.

  10. beautiful meal! i got that book for xmas too, and can't wait to get started!! whee