Every man should have a few recipes – five or so will do it – that he knows by heart and can whip up if he needs to scrape together a simple dish in 30 minutes or less. Most of the time, cooking is really about eating, so maximizing efficiency makes sense. That said, your kitchen is not dissimilar to a workshop, and taking the time to tinker with your tools can be rewarding to both the mind and the palate. Cooking projects that involve simmering fish stock, pickling vegetables, or tiptoeing into molecular gastronomy can be intimidating, especially after you've seen those reality shows featuring furious chefs. But cooking doesn't have to be intimidating. That's what cookbooks are for.
Six new ones, out this fall, offer intricate recipes and trade secrets from some of the world's most acclaimed chefs. The authors, including Daniel Boulud (DANIEL), Michael Anthony (Gramercy Tavern), John Besh (August), Daniel Patterson (Coi), Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman (Hogs & Hominy), and David Kinch (Manresa), are an inspirational lot, and the dishes are daunting, which is a great reason to take them on. From perfecting the omelet with black truffles to simmering a classic bouillabaisse to constructing a refined chicken and rice, the following recipes serve as excellent guides. They teach amateur chefs who have been nibbling around the gourmet edges how to go big by going home-cooked.
David Kinch's Old-Fashioned Omelet
The debut cookbook from Chef David Kinch's Michelin-starred Los Gatos restaurant doesn't modify recipes for home cooks, offering instead a look under Manresa's hood with the goal of capturing the menu's spirit and intent. The text is divided into Kinch's inspirations – everything from eggs to the Pacific Ocean – and discussions of how to craft a dish, build a menu, and smartly employ modern tech. Kinch's omelet recipe, like many of his creations, has been carefully refined. It's not a showy recipe, but the result is a showstopper.
• 5 farm-fresh eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
• 1 black truffle
• 50 grams (3 1/2 tbsp) salted butter
• Fleur de sel
Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the yolk. Peel the truffle and save the peelings for another use. Working with a small, sharp paring knife, whittle the truffle into little shavings, as thin as possible. Take your time to create these fragments, as this technique does wonders to preserve the texture and the aroma of the truffle, which can be lost when chopping them with a knife. Use as much truffle as you can afford. (I like to use a lot.) Add the truffle shavings to the eggs. Occasionally stir the eggs with a fork to push the truffles below the surface. Do not beat the eggs at this time, as it is important to maintain the integrity of the curds. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow it to sit at room temperature for ?3 hours to infuse the aroma throughout the eggs. Do not salt the eggs and do not stir!
You will make the omelet without salt, which is the beauty of this recipe. The lack of salt mixed with the eggs will guarantee a soft, custard-like curd, a treasure compared to the scrambled-egg texture of most omelets.
Heat an 8-inch nonstick pan or the pan you have reserved for egg cookery over medium-high heat. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork. You just want to mix the eggs and not incorporate any air into them. Drop a nugget of half the butter into the pan. The pan is the correct temperature if the butter sizzles on contact and melts quickly without browning. Add the eggs quickly and stir with the tines of the fork until soft, shiny curds have formed. Do not overcook.
Turn the eggs out onto a plate, rolling the curds to approximate the shape of an omelet. You can shape it perfectly by covering it with a kitchen towel and gently pressing the omelet into shape. The magic now is to rub the exterior of the omelet with a piece of cold salted butter to make it shiny and then shower the surface with fleur de sel. You will have a perfectly seasoned omelet with the soft curd of a just-made cheese.
• Buttered sourdough toast
Enjoy immediately with a great glass of Burgundy and some buttered sourdough toast.
Reprinted with permission from 'Manresa: An Edible Reflection' by David Kinch with Christine Muhlke, (c) 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photography credit: Eric Wolfinger. [Ten Speed Press, October 22, 2013; $50]