Jacques Pépin Cooking My Way: Recipes and Techniques for Economical Cooking
“This is a pleasure of a cookbook full of great recipes . . .”
Jacques Pépin, winner of 16 James Beard Awards and author of over 30 cookbooks, has taken his considerable skills and created a charming cookbook of easy-to-make recipes designed not only to save money but also time and effort. To add to its delight are his wonderful pastel drawings. It is a cookbook full of good sense, with Pépin, who has starred in 12 PBS cooking shows, sharing how he saves money without impacting the quality of the food he prepares.
“Buying seasonally is another way to approach economy in the kitchen,” he writes in the book’s introduction. “More often than not, I create my menus at the supermarket, looking for the best, but also the least expensive, and striking a balance between the two.”
Pépin buys fruits and vegetables in season when they are most flavorful, nutritious, and less costly. The same goes with other ingredients. When whole turkeys are on sale (or in Pepin’s words “attractively priced”) in autumn and winter, he buys them. Lamb and ham grace his menu in the springs when stores are more likely to have them on special. As for pricey seafood, summer is the best time to purchase fish and shellfish as it is most abundant during warm weather.
It's also important, he says, to know that first impressions can be misleading when it comes to buying ingredients.
“For example,” Pépin continues, “the outside leaves of a head of escarole may be wilted or damaged and therefore sold at a discounted price, I will still buy it because the center, the part I want to use, is white, firm, sweet, and tender.”
Pépin, who founded the Jacques Pépin Foundation, which is dedicated to culinary education, has lessons to impart in this book. Among these are versatility and using not only what is in season and attractively priced but also whatever you have on hand. Because Pépin doesn’t let leftover bread go to waste, there’s a recipe for Cauliflower and Crumbs in which he recommends making your own breadcrumbs using either stale or fresh bread. And there’s his unique Bread Flapjacks. It’s a savory recipe with leftover bread, egg, chopped onions, and herbs. But Pépin shows how you can turn it into a sweet flapjack dish by adding sugar and leftover fruit such as an apple or banana.
This is a pleasure of a cookbook full of great recipes such as Flan of Green Herbs, Grits and Cheese Souffle, Sweet and Spicy Curried Chicken, and Braised Pork and Cabbage which are intriguing but simple to make is made even better by the full-color photos by Tom Hopkins, and the effort that Pépin has put into it to ensure that we cook wisely and well.