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Cookbook Review: The Balthazar Cookbook

Must-Read: The Balthazar Cookbook

Even for those of us who don't live in New York, it's hard to ignore the accolades of Balthazar, Keith McNally's world-famous SoHo brasserie that's been perennially packed since it opened over a decade ago.

New Yorkers may think it's still hard to book a rez, but those of us on the West Coast really can't snag a seat for brunch. That's why I was psyched to get my hands on a copy of The Balthazar Cookbook ($24.75). Find out if the book deserves the same reputation as its namesake restaurant when you

.
Pros:

  • A comprehensive anthology of France's seminal dishes, from bouillabaisse to cassoulet.
  • Elegant layout and stunning action shots make this a gorgeous coffee table tome.
  • Sidebar notes include techniques and suggestions for locating obscure products.

Cons:

  • With its beautiful red binding, elegant typography, and stylish photos, this compilation of recipes is almost too attractive to use.
  • Many recipes, such as potato gnocchi or cod with lobster, are not for the beginner cook.
  • Labor-intensive dishes (like Koulibiac — seared salmon with spinach, lettuce, rice, and mushrooms, all wrapped in puff pastry) seem better off ordered at a restaurant.

Recipes: The book includes all of the classic, national dishes of France. These dishes caught my eye:

  • Balthazar salad
  • Salt Cod Brandade
  • Onion Soup Gratinée
  • Duck Confit
  • Côte de Boeuf
  • Spaetzle
  • Banana Tarte Tatin

Imagery: More often than not, the recipes include vivid and luscious corresponding photos.

Overall Rating: While not the most practical of cookbooks, this book would be a great purchase for die-hard Balthazar fans, or experienced home cooks looking for a go-to for classic French favorites.


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