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Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques
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Product Description

The fully illustrated bible of cooking techniques from the world's best-known French cook is now in paperback and in one volume for the first time ever.

From a master chef and the current co-star (with Julia Child) of the hit television series "Cooking at Home," comes everything the home cook needs to perfect his or her kitchen skills-assisted by instructive, step-by-step photography. Learn to de-bone a chicken, poach an egg, whisk a perfect bearnaise, knead a tangy sourdough, or bake an exquisite meringue with the perfection and efficiency of a professional chef. Pepin's toothsome and time-tested recipes offer budding chefs the opportunity to put lessons into practice with extraordinary results. This comprehensive, authoritative presentation of cooking technique and practice is sure to become an indispensable part of every home cook's library.

Customer Reviews:

  • Essential Authority on Techniques. Highly Recommended
    `Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques' may be one of the landmark works signaling the beginning of the Renaissance of American culinary practice. This volume, published in 2001, is an omnibus of two earlier works, `La Technique' published in 1976 and `La Methode' published in 1979, just as Pepin was changing his career from leading French chef to culinary writer and educator. These will probably always stand as his most important books.

    The book in English that is most similar to this is James Peterson's `Essentials of Cooking'. This newer volume is an excellent book with color photographs and coverage of subjects which is probably pretty complete for the average culinary amateur. Pepin's work is in an entirely different class, aimed at the professional and, by extension, the foodie wannabe professional.

    In Peterson's book, the first chapter, `Basics', covers twenty-four (24) topics. In his first chapter of the same name, Pepin covers seventy (70) subjects. Even allowing for the fact that Pepin includes nine (9) egg topics in Basics that Peterson puts in a later chapter, this is an impressive margin of coverage from Pepin. Pepin's topics tend to be somewhat more basic and focus heavily on knife skills, even including a section on how to sharpen knives. Even though these topics are simple, Pepin gives each technique all the attention it needs. One of the clearest examples of Pepin's great attention to detail is in his treatment of my favorite subject for evaluating one's culinary writing. This is how to make a classic French omelet. As I noted in my review of Peterson's book, Chef James is just a bit short on some important details. Pepin not only covers all the bases, but also adds a few tips to omelet making technique that I have not seen elsewhere. The only warning I give about his technique is that since it was written before non-stick surfaces on saute pans were perfected and available on high-end cookware, the author does not recommend them. All recent descriptions of omelet making strongly recommend non-stick pans for all egg cookery.

    The chapter on Fish and Shellfish continues Pepin's emphasis on basics, including several topics for which the average amateur chef may never have a use, such as methods for handling sea urchins, frogs legs, salmon in aspic, and pate of fish. Conversely, I am surprised to find no section on the `en papillote' cooking method that Peterson covers in detail. Other Peterson topics on which Pepin passes are methods for squid and preparing salmon steaks. The differences in coverage in this chapter alone make it worth one's while to own both books.

    The chapter on vegetables is a real wealth of techniques for making really cheap ingredients into impressive presentations. You can dream about poaching or smoking whole Scottish line-caught salmon, but you can easily afford to do one of the eleven (11) different techniques Pepin describes for potatoes. In fact, this is probably some of the most dramatic evidence of the French obsession with food preparation. When I think of Irish potato preparations, I think of boiled potatoes, champ, and colcannon. In this chapter, the French have eight (8) different ways of just cutting potatoes, let alone all the methods used to fry, gratin, roast, boil, and saute potatoes in the French lexicon.

    Pepin uncharacteristically combines poultry and meat into one chapter, but this is incidental. Pepin and Peterson cover a roughly equal number of chicken subjects, with Pepin covering some more typically French subjects such as glazing and sausage making. On cutting up a chicken, I give extra points to Peterson for the efficacy of his color pictures detailing his technique. Pepin very usefully separates all his carving techniques into a separate chapter that covers fish, birds, and beasts.

    In the next chapter on `Breads', Pepin covers a topic that Peterson simply does not even touch. Pepin points out that bread making is one of those activities which involves a few simple ingredients, but a highly sophisticated technique. Like making a good omelet, it's all in knowing how. Having made a fairly wide variety of loaves of bread in my time, I would not recommend Pepin's book as the best introduction to breadmaking. His book is all about technique. It gives practically no understanding of why you do each of the steps in a particular way. And, his basic breadmaking technique is a little different from any other I have seen. On the positive side, I would strongly recommend anyone attempting to make baguettes to check out Pepin's description, as it is the only place I have seen pictures of classic baguette making equipment in use.

    The real jewel in this book is the last chapter on `Pastry and Dessert'. This is the first indication I had of Pepin's skill as a pastry chef in addition to his great reputation as a savory chef. This by far the longest chapter in the book and has the greatest potential to adding a bit of `wow' to one's entertaining. One of the more important gems hidden in this chapter is Pepin's technique for making crepes in the section on Crepes Suzettes. I have successfully made crepes using Julia Child's recipe for years, yet Pepin's pictures and comments succeed in adding to my knowledge of the technique. For the supreme `wow' effect, check out the technique for the Christmas Yule Log (Buche de Noel). Another major topic absent from Peterson's book you will find here is the method for souffl¨¦. In spite of all these flash dishes, the chapter still concentrates on a lot of very basic building block techniques such as recipes for custards, creams, meringues, toasts, galettes, caramel, brittle, and chocolate leaves.

    If you are an aspiring professional or serious foodie, Pepin's book is probably the most important book you can have in your kitchen. It covers twice the material of Peterson's book with greater authority and fewer lapses. If you are an amateur who enjoys cooking, get both. Highly recommended....more info

  • Careful - it might be missing pages!
    Our copy is missing pages ~230-280. In its place are pages 376-420. The pages after p280 are out of order throughout the book, though they all seem to be there.

    This is a great book. I just wish we had the asparagus recipes on page 276....more info
  • Learning the basics.
    Jacques Pepin starts by teaching basic food preparation and cooking techniques with step-by-step instructions, which are accompanied by detailed photographs demonstrating the actions. The book also includes many "advanced" techniques which are used soley for presentation and turning the dining experience into high art. This book is a must have for any home cook that aspires to join the culinary gods, but I still believe it offers a lot to those who simply hope to figure out how to "julienne" a carrot....more info
  • Ces't Magnifique!
    A very practical guide helps re-sharpen your skills and more important it re-visits many often forgotten classical techniques....more info
  • the one! the only!! the best!!!
    jacques pepin has taught me so much over the years,it would take 10,000 words to give him the respect he deserves. in 3-4 minutes he can debone a whole chicken then make it look whole again!(i've got to find a video on that one). this book details many of his techniques and does a fine job of it.the photos should be color,and there should be more of them! photos make a cookbook easier to work with,especially for the novice.even so, this book is well worth the price, make it part of jacque's contribution to your cooking style. i'm the home cook version of a chef, i don't follow all recipes exactly and i've been known to substitute ingredients(such as mushrooms in place of truffles)but, following the advice of a chef of pepin's experience has sharpened my skills and i'm certain it will do the same for you.detract one star for the photos, but get the book!...more info
  • Best cookbook I've found
    This cookbook is really more of a tutorial book with good illustrations of various techniques and lots of hand-holding for beginner to intermediate levels of expertise. It will teach you how to carve just about ANY piece of meat, fish, our poultry.

    There is a lot of emphasis on french style recipes and much of the recipes will not be something appealing to you or your family but there are some real gems. Check out the Glazed Pearl Onions recipe on page 27. This book would be the BEST wedding gift I could think of to the younger cooks looking to develop techniques for a lifetime. Highly recommended.
    ...more info
  • A photographic how-to-do-it guide to French culinary techniques
    This is NOT a recipe book. It's a photographic how-to-do-it guide to basic French culinary techniques.

    As I mentioned elsewhere (re: Julia Child) this is another one of those special interest books intended primarily for serious home cooks and novice pros, who'd like to broaden their inventory of classic culinary prep-skills (i.e., basic butchery, and fruit/veg preparation, processing, and presentation, etc.)

    STRENGTHS:
    * Jacques Pepin is classic old school. That means he doesn't roast chickens unless they've been properly trussed, poussins unless they've been spatchcocked and/or deboned, and racks of lamb unless they've been properly 'Frenched' ... and this book does an excellent job of showing (with words and photos) the basics for those techniques, along with many others. Wanna learn how to clean & truss a whole fillet mignon for grilling & roasting ? It's in there.

    NITS:
    * The verbal descriptions are a bit too sparse and ambiguous in places, due to poor culinary editorial oversight.
    * The photographs are rather disappointing at times ... especially the fact that they're all black and white, and that they're all cold, clinical and lifeless. There is neither photographic artistry nor joy to match the artistry and joy of the chef being photographed ... and that's sad, because everyone who loves to cook deserves to be exposed to Jacques (one of my favorite chefs). I could have done a better job of the photography myself, and I'm not even a photographer.
    * I think this book would have benefited from being less purely procedural oriented, and a little more recipe oriented ... without the latter, it falls a bit flat. As it, the book has a dry, surgical-like feel to it, and the black and white photos left me with a somewhat colorless impression.

    Bottom line is that this book needs an expanded 2nd edition, featuring better edited and polished descriptions, and (more importantly) high quality full-color photod, by someone with an eye for both instruction, fun and artistry.

    Very useful, and exhaustive, but uninspiringly photographed.
    ...more info
  • Learn the fundamentals from a true master
    Short of having a pro chef standing at your shoulder, this book is about as good as it gets on learning the true fundamentals-things like cutting up and de-boning chickens (which can save you a lot of money), removing corn from cobs, making crepes, souffles, and the like.

    Jacques is a true master chef, maybe the most efficient and fluid person you will ever see in a kitchen. In addition to true culinary chops, he almost got his Ph.D. in literature-a disagreement with his major professor over his thesis led to him quitting-so he can actually write. In fact, his English writing is better than 99% of native English speakers!

    This is not a traditional cookbook-there are not a lot of recipes. Instead it is a book of cooking techniques, a book on preparing ingredients for cooking. Since studies have shown that 70-80% of kitchen time is preparing ingredients as opposed to cooking (applying heat to food), this book is invaluable as it helps you with the most time-consuming activities in the kitchen.

    Complaints? Only one: The pictures would be clearer if larger and in color. This book is an improved version of two earlier books (La Method and La Technique) combined into one and he simply reused the original pictures, which are a little small and dark. I would rate is 4.5 stars if I could.

    So, if you want to really learn to cut up a chicken, get this book and a half-dozen birds to practice on, then have a cookout for some friends!...more info
  • If you can't go to a Cordon Bleu school, this is a good book
    There is more to cooking than mixing ingredients; the preparation of ingredients is vital to the result, as much as the choosing of the best raw materials.

    Chef Pepin takes you by the hand in clear writing and describes the techniques of mincing mushrooms and removing excess liquid, poaching an egg (no, he does NOT use one of those little metal cups over boiling water) and how to braise meat properly.

    This book is less about recipes and more about how to treat the food to get the best result. Pepin's descriptions are clear and this will improve your knowledge of cuisine in a way that ordinary cookbooks do not....more info

  • Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques
    This is one of my very first cookbooks purchased at the start of my culinary career. This book is extremely well written with both useful tips and illustrations that we assist even the beginning cook in recreating the masterpieces listed there in. From creating the basic brown stock to stuffing a flank steak, there is something in here for any cook or chef of any culinary level. ...more info
  • Great recipes and imaginative presentations
    In comparison to Le Cordon Bleu's Complete Cooking Techniques, there are many more recipes, they are often showy presentations fit for entertaining, and there are many more techniques presented. I agree with others that the small black-and-white pictures are a serious drawback, but in most cases, they are adequate, though not pleasant to work with. In some cases, such as in the instructions for deboning a bird, they are truly not helpful at all. Still, there is so much in the book worth having, that I still give it 5 stars. I bought both books. Le Cordon Bleu's would be better for a novice cook, and PEpin's book would be better for a more accomplished cook wanting to impress their friends....more info
  • A spectacular, must-have book marred by serious organizational flaws
    I'll start with this: the average cookbook buyer is not going to have the money or the justification for The Professional Chef, The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine, or the like. For someone learning to cook and wanting a basic reference on the techniques of professional cooking, this book is far less expensive and friendlier to a home cook. It's not quite suitable as a basic text on cooking unless you want to specialize in classic French cooking, but it should certainly be in your library.

    P¨¦pin's approach in this book is an interesting one. He's not wedded to sacred cows -- arrowroot and beurre mani¨¦ rather than roux in his sauces, for example, an approach advocated by none other than Escoffier himself, but largely ignored. It is of course the case that the source material that P¨¦pin built this book from was published in the 1970s, and the recipes and techniques reflect that era -- aspics, carefully constructed installations of bread and fruit figures, and the like abound, but that isn't really a criticism -- just because a technique isn't widely used anymore doesn't mean it a) is completely useless or b) might not come back some day (a friend of mine's boss still makes aspics for parties for example). The point is not to give recipes but to teach technique, and this book is certainly an excellent choice for that.

    And it does cover a lot of ground as well -- in addition to expected things like braises, cutlets, and the like, P¨¦pin includes things like how to make a prosciutto-style ham, how to make numerous garnishes that would make your grandmother proud, and how to glaze fruit like strawberries to place on top of an Old World-style cake. The black-and-white photos, while it would be nice to see them updated to color, aren't the handicap many other reviewers think, and unlike many other so-called picture cookbooks, which seem to use pictures as window dressing, are carefully arranged to match up to the steps. Overall, the effect is as close to a well-produced cooking show as it's possible to be without moving images.

    The major flaws of the book aren't the author's fault. It can be argued that at least part of it was sloppy integration of La Methode and La Technique into a coherent whole, but even then that doesn't really justify the weirdly claustrophobic feel in the book. That's because it's not a browsing book -- the table of contents is small, the index is recipe-oriented rather than technique-oriented, and the page headings are simply technique numbers rather than titles. This last is a major liability in a book where any given entry can be three to five pages in length. There are a few techniques that would have been useful as well; while almost everything in classical French cuisine is adaptable to other cuisines, it still would have been nice to have coverage of things like batter-frying (breadings are used, though). Marginal chapter tabs would also have been nice, since it's not very straightforward to tell what section you're in when you simply flip to a random page. A third edition with these changes, as well as color photos, would be nice, though not at the expense of a drastic price increase; fortunately Workman (of which the publisher, Black Dog and Leventhal, is a subsidiary) seems to have done a fairly effective job of doing precisely this to other flagship titles like the Silver Palate Cookbook and The Barbecue! Bible without impoverishing readers.

    Overall, though, for a home cook that needs a good reference on techniques, this is a very good choice, and indispensable for someone who wants to know a little about professional cooking (at least in the French tradition) without spending outrageous amounts of money on a culinary textbook. I would also recommend it highly for anyone who has a more visually-oriented learning style; it's perhaps a bit text-heavy, but the pictures are excellent. ...more info
  • Learn the fundamentals from a true master
    Short of having a pro chef standing at your shoulder, this book is about as good as it gets on learning the true fundamentals-things like cutting up and de-boning chickens (which can save you a lot of money), removing corn from cobs, making crepes, souffles, and the like.

    Jacques is a true master chef, maybe the most efficient and fluid person you will ever see in a kitchen. In addition to true culinary chops, he almost got his Ph.D. in literature-a disagreement with his major professor over his thesis led to him quitting-so he can actually write. In fact, his English writing is better than 99% of native English speakers!

    This is not a traditional cookbook-there are not a lot of recipes. Instead it is a book of cooking techniques, a book on preparing ingredients for cooking. Since studies have shown that 70-80% of kitchen time is preparing ingredients as opposed to cooking (applying heat to food), this book is invaluable as it helps you with the most time-consuming activities in the kitchen.

    Complaints? Only one: The pictures would be clearer if larger and in color. This book is an improved version of two earlier books (La Method and La Technique) combined into one and he simply reused the original pictures, which are a little small and dark. I would rate is 4.5 stars if I could.

    So, if you want to really learn to cut up a chicken, get this book and a half-dozen birds to practice on, then have a cookout for some friends!...more info
  • Not for beginners
    This is not a book for beginners. This is a book for people who have some chops, but who want a reference manual.

    Ignore everybody who complains about the photos: they will never produce meal after meal. They are too busy complaining.

    This is a master-work....more info
  • Not as good as it could be
    I have mixed feelings about this book. It is good for descriptions, but the pictures are a little small, fuzzy, and black & white for my taste. It isn't much of a cookbook of course, but instead is a step by step guide for various techniques. Nevertheless, I turn to real cookbooks for recipes, and haven't used this much. Somehow I dont use it as much as I would think I should....more info
  • Fabulous book with surmountable flaw
    I just bought several cookbooks that espouse to teach one how to cook rather than simply supplying recipes. I will compare the others to this one, but let me start out by saying that this book is my favorite. Although I agree with other reviewers that the black-and-white photos are a serious flaw, I still gave it 5 stars because of the sheer comprehensiveness and imagination of the techniques and the recipes. It far outstrips the other books I bought. While I am a very visual person and totally dislike black-and-white photos, particularly small ones, the advantages of the book are such that I would not do without it, while I would cheerfully sell the other books I bought. The pictures are generally series of small black-and-white photos that show in a stepwise fashion how to each of the techniques. There is generally a picture of the finished product included. While I don't like this feature of the book, I find that, most of the time, one can glean the information needed from the photos. There are many occasions when it would be better with larger, color photos, and there are some occasions when the photos are quite useless, such as in the instructions for deboning a bird.

    In comparison, Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques, has only extremely basic recipes, and the techniques included is less comprehensive. Still, I am glad to have it so that I can actually see how to debone a bird.

    Another book Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America, is less about techniques, though there are some instructions for very basic techniques. It espouses to do everything, from technique to recipes, and it is a good cookbook for the beginning cook that wants to create sophisticated recipes without outrageous demands one's skill, time or grocer....more info

  • Better than Video!
    We have become used to visual presentations of cooking
    techniques, in fact you might say we're addicted to them.
    There's a whole channel devoted to cooking video and for
    some of us, the vids are the main way that cooking lore is
    presented. They are reassuring: if the cook on the screen
    can do it, then I can do it too.
    But TV has its drawbacks. For starters, it's a one-way
    medium. If you forget exactly what happened before a
    particular step is shown, you're out of luck. DVD's and
    TiVo are partial remedies, but rewinding is still clumsy.

    So what's the best way to convey technical information
    about cooking technique? It would have to be some visual
    medium that showed several images at once and allowed you to
    flick back and forth with the blink of an eye. It should be
    self-paced so you can breeze over the obvious and puzzle
    over the difficult. It should be inexpensive, easy to use
    and storeable in some convenient form.

    Fortunately, there is such a thing. It's called: a book.
    Now you can look up the definition of 'book' on amapedia,
    but take my word for it-the book's the way to go.

    This book, which derives from Pepin's venerable La
    Technique is a book about strategies for dealing with
    food. Each technique is presented in a series of photos.
    There are enough on each page so that you can see several
    steps in a process at once. Without the distractions of
    color and excess food styling, the whole thing becomes
    very approachable. It's easy to envision yourself
    performing these tasks and envisioning is what it's all
    about. Best of all, most of the techniques are applicable
    to a wide variety of dishes, so if you learn one technique,
    you've really learned dozens of recipes.

    It may be too early to say, but this 'book' idea could catch
    on, maybe even make it big.

    --Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and
    the novel bang BANG. ISBN 9781601640005
    ...more info
  • Excellent Book With Insurmountable Flaw - No Color Photos!
    Originally I gave this book "one star" because of the terrible photography. In retrospect, that was perhaps too harsh. The recipes alone make Master Pepin's book worth buying. And I mentioned this in my original review, calling the book "excellent" despite its terrible flaw. Tragically, the lack of color photos makes the book very difficult for a beginning chef. Some professional chefs may disagree, but that's understandable, they already know the techniques Chef Pepin attempts to teach through his very poor black and white illustrations. Keep in mind that the book is suppossed to be primarily a book on COMPLETE TECHNIQUES (the full title of the book is Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques). I realize Chef Pepin actually combined two books to produce this text -- one on technique and another with lots of recipes. And I do love the organizational structure of the book. The insurmountable problem is that the pictures are eye-strainingly unbearable. I would happily pay twice the amount for the same book with larger color photos, where one could actually follow the knife and hand techniques. In the twenty-first century, there is absolutely no reason to impede education in so respected a field as the culinary arts by opting to keep a book cheaper with black and white photos. The result is not a greater exposure of the culinary arts to the general populace, but broader confusion on how to conceptualize the technques. Having said all of this, I recommend the book simply for the recipes. In addition, not all of the black and white photos are impossible to make out. Most are impossible, but not all. Master Pepin should encourage his publisher to republish a color photo version of this text. For people interested in usable color photos of cooking techniques, refer to Le Cordon Bleu's Complete Cooking Techniques. This book is actually less substantive than Master Pepin's -- though a wonderful introductory book. Jamie Oliver's new book KITCHEN is geared towards the beginner and is a wonderful introduction to nouvelle European cuisine. Jamie demonstrates some knife and hand techniques in clear, usable color photos. He shares with the reader lots of herbs and fusion ingredients and techniques. An even more impressive new text is Rocco Dispirito's FLAVOR which teaches a beginner a lot about ingredients, though little about knife and hand techniques. (For those of you who saw The Restaurant on cable and thought Rocco a big ..., I agree. But his cookbook, Flavor, is phenomenal. I bought it despite his apparent a-hole personality in that show.) Michel Roux's book on New Techniques is wonderful for beginners, as is his book on Sauces. Both books share with the reader useful knife and hand techniques, using many other tools of the trade....more info
  • Great for experimental cooks
    Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques is a wonderful teaching tool. If you want to try something you have never done before, this book will give you the comfort that you have the techniques to do it. The recipes are great, and after using them, the techniques allow you to veer off in your own direction. This is now my most used of my cooking library. Thank you Mr. Pepin!!...more info
  • A Must
    If you consider yourself a serious cook then you need this book immediately. It is and always will be essential....more info
  • Great book, no colour photos inside though!
    Great book, no colour photos inside though!

    Also, paid extra to speed up delivery - this didn't happen....more info
  • Good, but...
    Before you buy this, check out La Varenne Pratique by Anne Willan. It is similar, but superior, to Pepin's Complete Techniques. The pictures are larger, clearer and in color, and the information is as comprehensive, if not more so. ...more info
  • INDISPENSABLE, buy immediately
    This was given to me as a present. I am never going to part with it - very comprehensive, complete with step-by-step pictures. The next best thing to studying at Le Cordon Bleu in France. Dont think twice. Buy it immediately. It is indispensable reading for all cooks. There is no reason you cant master the techniques after reading this book. Thank you very much Mr. Pepin !...more info
  • A Must Own
    This is one of the best books ever written about cooking. All the classic techniques, demonstrated by *the* master technician. An indispensible reference. ...more info
  • Review
    I'm an amateur cook. This book helped me with terminology and also with techniques that made my work easier....more info
  • Excellent technique!!!!
    Jacques been an incredible chef for the last 3 decades, and this book include almost all the amazing tecniques he use. This is recomended it for a profesional chefs not for domestic use....more info
  • Not for beginners
    This is not a book for beginners. This is a book for people who have some chops, but who want a reference manual.

    Ignore everybody who complains about the photos: they will never produce meal after meal. They are too busy complaining.

    This is a master-work....more info