When I came to think about a new book, I decided a complete change of perspective was needed. French Brasserie Cookbook was a book focused on my roots in French cooking – looking back to recapture the past traditions of my childhood. But things have changed in cooking in France. My new book, I decided, would have its gaze fixed firmly on the future.
A new kind of French cuisine has emerged over the last few years. People started to ask questions of classic style of French cooking. Did we really need all that cream and those heavy sauces? Why should there be just one right way to make a dish when it could be delicious made in different, often simpler, ways? Why did cooking have to be so time-consuming if quicker techniques gave the same results? Why should cooks feel under pressure to do everything ‘right’ by the book, when cooking was meant to be fun?
My new book Revolutionary French Cooking embraces that revolution, and shows you just how wonderful French food can be when used as a sound and secure foundation on which to build. I have taken the best of French style and given it new twists and innovative touches that rejuvenate and energize this fabulous cuisine.
So what am I trying to achieve in Revolutionary French Cooking? Having established the concept for this new book, it seemed only logical to use the motto of the French Revolution to define its heart: liberté, égalité, fraternité. The three main sections of the book bring a unique slant to modern French cooking. Each original recipe uses an unusual marriage of flavours with unexpected twists and surprises, plus I even let you in on some professional secrets.
Sous Vide Quail with a Rocket Salad
Classic dishes released from the constraints of traditional French cookery
Liberté showcases recipes that have been released from the shackles of traditional French cooking, replacing complex traditional French techniques with simpler ones and bringing fresh new ideas to the table. One I particularly like is a beautiful pork shoulder steak, a dish that seems so simple but is made sublime with the innovation of fresh cabbage, still crunchy and full of flavour, cooked with fresh chilli and ginger to give it strength, and drizzled with honey to lift the dish.
Heirloom Beetroot ‘Tagliatelle’ and Carpaccio
Honey Parfait with Poached Rhubarb
Democratic recipes that elevate humble ingredients to starring roles
Egalité brings democracy to the recipes by elevating humble ingredients to take the starring roles. In this section of the book I talk about ingredients that were originally perceived as peasant fodder, but are now being rediscovered and enjoying new recognition. I’m sure you know what I mean by that – ingredients like rabbit, mushrooms, potatoes and simply herbs. The common Jerusalem artichoke become the basis for an imaginative recipe rather than being a scarcely noticed side dish, which is why I created my Jerusalem Artichoke Velouté with Truffle Oil and Chive Cream.
Dishes that bring innovation and style to classic combinations of ingredients
Fraternité celebrates traditional brotherhoods by creating dishes that bring innovation and style to classic combinations of ingredients. My Chocolate, Chilli and Lemongrass Tart recipe beautifully illustrates this section of the book.
In each of these chapters, I have used ideas that we have been developing in our restaurant to make sure they are right up to date. That did raise the issue of whether they were too complicated for home cooks, or perhaps needed professional equipment that home cooks did not have, so I also thought about how easy the food would be to make at home. Recipes that are too daunting to attempt would have no place in my book!
Discover how simple it is to dehydrate, smoke and cook sous vide at home with Daniel’s chef secrets
I adapted the techniques to ensure that a competent cook would be able to recreate them without any problems. You won’t need expensive, professional equipment; you will need a reasonably well-equipped kitchen, including a few small tools like a thermometer, a timer, a good blender, a steamer and a wok (we are going to use that for your smoking ingredients – how exciting is that?) but nothing out of the ordinary. Mind you, I do not promise that all the recipes are simple because some are not, but they are all achievable – and they all have a very interesting twist. Just follow the methods carefully and enjoy both cooking and eating the food.
Hopefully you will agree that we have thrown open the door to a whole new range of interesting opportunities for you to expand their repertoire and test your culinary skills. I think you are going to really enjoy cooking the recipes in this book; they are different, entertaining and fun!
Vive la révolution!