The first non-Frenchman to win France's highest cooking honor, and voted Chef of the Year by his peers in America, David Burke is a true original. Born in America, trained here and in France by such luminaries as Pierre Troisgros and Gaston Lenotre, he has developed a style all his own, emphasizing the twin goals of taste and beauty.
The Burke style blends the principles of haute cuisine with French country cooking, American regional specialties, and ethnic touches. He has taken to new heights the originally European technique of building a dish, rather than displaying food flat upon a plate. He uses ingredients the way a child uses blocks, building, creating layers of food, achieving a remarkable melange of tastes, colors, and textures.
In presenting this concept here for the home chef, he breaks down seemingly complex dishes into their component parts. He demonstrates that what looks intricate (and fabulous) can be easy to make. His classical training, combined with an artist's eye and a rich imagination, provides the reader with a genuinely new way of looking at and preparing food.
This is a soup-to-nuts cookbook, from stunning hors d'oeuvres such as Pastrami Salmon, and Parfait of Artichoke, Goat Cheese, and Marinated Vegetables, to dazzling desserts like Three-Layered Mousse Parfait, Red-Berry Sorbet, and Ginger Ice Cream. The heart of the book, though, lies in Burke's signature main courses, which he builds into delicious dishes wonderful to look at and easily transformable into more ornate delights or simplified into convenient and lighter one-dish meals. Among them: Pan Roasted Monkfish with Green-Onion Sauce and Ziti and Eggplant Bouquet; Roast Cornish Hens with Saffron Potatoes and Chorizo Sausages; Sirloin Steak with Shiitake-Mushroom Hash and Pickled Vegetables.
Burke is not a go-by-the-book chef. His chapter on flavoring your own oils, vinaigrettes, and sauces reveals a whole new world of intense and delectable flavors. He combines bread crumbs with ground mustard, caraway, poppy, fennel, or coriander seeds to create a remarkable crust.
Burke opens up for the home cook an exciting new way of thinking about presentation (a whole chapter is devoted to the subject). Plates do not have to match, he says. "Some dishes look better on pottery, some on porcelain." And he sees no reason why the pattern that marches around the perimeter of a soup plate has to copycat the pattern of a plate used for a main course, or even the pattern of the dish next to it.
Introducing a cuisine that both delights and surprises the palate and the eye, Cooking with David Burke is a book full of energy, enthusiasm, and true culinary invention -- a stunning debut for a fresh and welcome new voice in American cooking.