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Daniel's Dish

Entertaining at Home With a Four-Star Chef

by Daniel Boulud

Daniel's Dish: Entertaining at Home With a Four-Star Chef

Take your pick. There's restaurant Daniel, db bistro moderne and Café Boulud. They're as different from each other as they are delicious. And Daniel Boulud doesn't stop with restaurants. He is a prolific entrepreneur with a line of cookware and gourmet food products. Somehow, in the midst of all that, plus television appearances and charity work, Boulud has managed to write a stack of cookbooks, and Letters to a Young Chef.

Daniel's Dish: Entertaining at Home with a Four-Star Chef offers a compilation of recipes from Boulud's "Elle Décor" articles, as well as new recipes and updates. While the dishes reflect his trademark finesse and style, they are geared for the mainstream audience. Some of the recipes can be time-consuming and a bit laborious, but they are straightforward and the results are impressive.

The four cocktails in the first chapter are luxurious. A classic Bellini becomes a Berrini by way of strawberry-mint syrup. We'd be happy to squander calories on Crème Boulud-a cognac and Frangelico-infused vanilla custard with praline paste. There's no fussiness in the Small Bites and Starters. When you see the rich photographs you'll want to make everything. The chapter includes such standards as Chicken Satays with Spicy Peanut Sauce, Blini with Caviar, and Baked Littleneck Clams, but there's no room for complacency. Next up is a Melon Salad with Lemongrass Shrimp—layers of watermelon and honeydew in a martini glass with shrimp, in a sparkling ginger, lime and lemongrass dressing.

The Fish and Shellfish chapter pays tribute to scallops, soft shell crabs, skate, cod, swordfish and more. One minute it's Eggplant Wrapped Swordfish with Tomato and Meyer Lemon, the next it's Boulud's take on the New England Lobster Roll—his Lobster Roll Sandwich. Leave it to him to improve the classic with fennel, radishes cornichons—and line the roll with prosciutto.

We could live on the Meat, Poultry and Side Dishes chapter and never get bored. Daniel's Casual Cassoulet takes just a few short hours from start to finish. You won't have to schedule this one. There's a rosemary and orange-scented Lamb Stew with plenty of carrots, turnips, fennel and celery root, and an Alsatian Potato Gratin that is layered with a surprise of carrots and Savoy cabbage. If you skip the bacon layers (don't) there's only a tiny amount of added fat—from some olive oil and butter. Then again, who's counting calories.

Desserts are lovely. End your meal with the Chocolate Bread Pudding with Dried Fruit. The bread part, by the way, is croissants. Or the Chocolate-Ginger Pound Cake. Or the Spiced Chocolate Soup that gets its heat from Szechuan peppercorns. If you're not leaning toward chocolate, there's a handful of nice choices like a Passion-Fruit Soufflé paired with a Caramelized Pear-Passion Sauce, and an interesting composition of Squash Panna Cotta, Cranberry Compote and Walnut Tuiles.

While it would be nice to have an up-front idea of time requirements for each recipe, Daniel's Dish does not skimp on other details. Instructions are clear and concise. Suggestions for beverage pairings include wines and spirits that venture beyond the ordinary. Boulud provides four pages of menu suggestions: Menus for Entertaining and Seasonal Menus. The Pantry Basics and Basic Equipment for the Kitchen lists are useful, and the Kitchen Source guide will help if you don't have a great gourmet market nearby.


Reviewed by Kevin Schoeler

(Updated: 11/11/08 SB)

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