Hi, loyal Eat the District readers! Today we’ve got the first installment of The Cook’s Books, a new ETD feature where we ask DC chefs for three cookbooks they’d recommend for young home cooks, along with a recipe they’d like to highlight from one of the books. We came up with this idea when we realized that many people (including us!) have no idea where to start building a cookbook collection, and thought who better to ask than DC’s chefs! We’re kicking this off with Chef Cedric Maupillier, chef at Mintwood Place, one of DC’s hottest new restaurants (and recent dining destination of the Obamas). Here’s his advice.
Cedric: Ok, so three books for some young Gourmand that doesn’t have a professional kitchen structure or years of experience behind the line. As a French chef and resident of this country for the past 9 years, my suggestions will go where my roots are.
So I will recommend:
1. The Larousse Gastronomique (First written in 1938 by Prosper Montagné)
The Larousse Gastronomique is an encyclopedia that could direct any cook to safe combinations of flavors and ingredients and is therefore a good starting point to reinterpret some classic dishes. The book also contains over 1000 recipes.
2. The American Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
This one, and the PBS show of the same name, was a revelation for me about American food and culture. Tons of friendly and safe recipes.
3. Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, The Art of Eating (Michel Richard)
Well, nostalgia. I was working with Michel Richard at Citronelle and was lucky to be part of the recipe-making and the birth of this book. This is a serious book for someone that wants to have fun. It contains a multitude of techniques easlly mastered by the home cook.
Tomato Tartare with Shallot Dressing (Happy in the Kitchen pg.52)
Makes 1 ½ Cups;
Serves 4 as a First course or 6 as an Appetizer
- 3 pound large roma tomatoes [about 12]
- 3 tablespoons finely minced shallots
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon drained capers, chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced chives
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black
- Pepper to taste
- Tabasco sauce to taste
- ½ cup shallot Dressing
- Basil Oil
- Minced chives
- 8 Gruyere Chips
Roasting tomatoes to concentrate their flavor and then squeezing out any water that is left results in rich- tasting flesh- and equally flavorful liquid- that looks very much like diced filet mignon. The next step is obvious- why not combine it with the ingredients for steak tartare? Looks amazing, tastes great, what more can I say!? Serve with bread or thin toasts to scoop up the tartare.
Position a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment.
Cut out and discard the cores from the tomatoes. Cut each tomato lengthwise in half and place cut side up on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and slow-roast for 3 hours to partially dry the tomatoes.
Meanwhile, bring a small pan of water to a boil. Add the shallots and blanch quickly, just until tender. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and run cold water over to cool them down. Drain on a paper towel.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven, and pull away and discard the skins. Scoop out the seedy centers of the tomatoes, leaving tomato “shells,” and discard the seeds and membranes. Chop the tomato flesh.
Place the chopped tomatoes in the center of a piece of cheesecloth, hold over a bowl, and wring out to remove the excess liquid. Place the tomatoes in a medium bowl. (The liquid can be used to flavor dressings, soups, sauces.
Add the shallots to the tomatoes. Using a rasp grater, grate the garlic directly into the bow (or mince the garlic and add it). Add the remaining ingredients, and refrigerate the tartare until it is cold, at least 1 hour, or up to a day. Check the seasoning again before serving.
To serve, place the shallot dressing in a blender and blend until smooth. Place a 3-inch ring mold in the center of a serving plate and fill, looser packing will more closely resemble beef tartare. Lift up the mold and repeat on three more plates. Spoon the shallot dressing around the plates. Drizzle with basil oil, if desired. Sprinkle with chives and garnish each portion with 2 Gruyère chips.