Ad Hoc at Home
By Thomas Keller
With the economy in a slump, big chefs are releasing cookbooks featuring family-style recipes for comfort foods and childhood favorites. Chef Thomas Keller of the much-lauded The French Laundry joins Mark Peel’s (Campanile) New Classic Family Dinners on the cookbook shelf with the publication of his latest, Ad Hoc at Home.
For Keller, whose empire also included luxe brasserie-style Bouchon and contemporary Per Se, simple, homey food is not a fad. He’s been drawing diners to his Napa restaurant ad hoc for iceberg wedge salad and Monday fried chicken dinners for quite some time. In Ad Hoc at Home, he brings his take on American comfort fare right into your kitchen with dishes such as beef Stroganoff, grilled cheese sandwiches and potato hash with bacon and melted onions.
But, as with everything he does, this offering has a pedigree. A hefty coffee-table-style tome with luscious photographs on premium-stock paper, Ad Hoc at Home features family favorites with a Keller twist. For the grilled cheese sandwich you need to track down Brioche and a Roth Käse special reserve Gruyère; for his poached salmon you need to make your own court bouillon, or homemade stock. But mostly, it’s all pretty straightforward and doable. And, it’s not all truck stop and diner fare, either. You also get pomegranate-braised quail; quinoa with duck confit; and buttered farro. We doubt Grandma down on the ranch was familiar with that sturdy grain, but we are definitely fans. Why not buy a copy for a friend and have them cook a homey dinner for two?
Reviewed by Sylvie Greil
(Updated: 12/10/09 AR)