by Sybil PrattNovember, 1999
ÊJulius Caesar divided Gaul into three parts, but Gallic gastronome extraordinaire and renowned restaurateur Daniel Boulud divides his culinary territory into four. The world according to Daniel consists of La Tradition, the classic, full-flavored foods of France; La Saison, seasonal specialties; Le Voyage, great flavors from other lands; and Le Potager, vegetarian dishes that sing with the goodness of the garden. The menu in his superb new restaurant is divided into these four sections, as are the recipes in his superb,lusciously illustrated new cookbook, Daniel Boulud's Cafe Boulud Cookbook: French-American Recipes for the Home Cook, written with Dorie Greenspan, who makes the haute cuisine scene truly accessible for the home cook.
Monsieur Boulud is an elegant cook, and elegance can take time, patience, and attention to detail. That detail is given here in the carefully composed preparation and serving instructions and in the exemplary introductory notes for each recipe. Elegant though he is, Daniel encourages us to take a relaxed approach to the 200 plus recipes, inviting us to skip around in his quartet of categories taking a starter from one, a main dish from another, a dessert from a third and even to vary the components of the recipes themselves. For a fabulous holiday meal, you might want to serve an earthy, inviting Chestnut, Celery Root, and Apple Soup from La Saison before Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine from La Tradition, and finish the feast with Francois Payard's White Chocolate and Banana Tartlets from Le Voyage. Picking and choosing within recipes, I've served the peppery Spiced Skirt Steak from one recipe combo with a mellow Parsnip-Potato Puree from another with much success, and made the summer-scented Fresh Berry Marmalade and the honeyed Peach Compote without the divine little cakes they're paired with,saving a few precious calories to squander on the lovely, layered Chocolate Mousse Trio. Ê Don't look for low-fat quickies in this opulent array, but do look for dishes that will add pizzazz to your repertoire and give your lucky guests good reason to raise a happy hulla-Boulud about your cooking.
Sybil Pratt is an avid cook.