“Jacques Pépin Heart and Soul in the Kitchen” by Jacques Pépin, Rux Martin Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 436 pages, hardcover
The latest of Jacques Pépin’s more than two dozen cookbooks is his most personal.
“Jacques Pépin Heart and Soul in the Kitchen” was published in celebration of his 80th birthday and as a companion to his final PBS television show, “Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul.”
In the introduction, the popular chef and cooking instructor asks readers to “think of this book as an invitation to come over to our house for a meal.” He notes that its recipes are those he cooks at home today and “represent my culinary heart and soul.”
Many of the 200 recipes are from Pépin’s childhood in France, and “others have been picked up as I learned about American food and traveled the world tasting Asian and Latin American cuisine.
“Whatever its origins, in my kitchen, a recipe is never carved in stone or static but a living thing that will change subtly — and occasionally not so subtly — according to whim, new flavors that have inspired me, the discovery of more expedient ways to arrive at the result I want, simply what happens to be in my refrigerator,” he writes.
Most of the recipes are simple recipes that home cooks can easily prepare, such as cannellini bean dip, herbed omelet with shrimp and coffee panna cotta.
Because Pépin believes in “nose-to-tail eating,” there’s a chapter devoted to cooking with offal. He realizes some home cooks are reluctant to prepare these “lesser meats” so he suggests beginning with his calves’ liver with caramelized onions recipe. The chapter on fish and seafood reflects culinary influences from around the globe, including such recipes as Escargots Baked Potatoes; Fluke Tartare; Yucatán Ceviche; Octopus Stew with Onions, Paprika and Wine; Steamed Fish with Provençal Vegetable Stew and Broiled Sole with Chive Butter.
“Jacques Pépin Heart and Soul in the Kitchen” also features reminiscences and stories, plus plenty of practical cooking tips. It is illustrated with more than 100 full-color photographs of the food and of Pépin at home with friends and family and with charming watercolors by the chef.
This book offers pleasant, interesting conversation — as one would expect at a gathering at the chef’s house — and is sure to be welcomed by his many fans.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.