This is a guy who gives new meaning to the idea of playing with your food. Whether it's skewering french toast on cinnamon sticks for brunch-ready finger food or making cheez-whiz foam for a burger, Richard Blais is definitely having fun in the kitchen. His enthusiasm is infectious. I want to cook from this book and I want to do it right now.
• Who wrote it: Richard Blais
• Who published it: Clarkson Potter
• Number of recipes: 125, with additional recipe variations
• Recipes for right now: Cinnamon-Brioche French Toast "Skewers," Pimento Jack Cheese Sandwiches, Pork-Belly-Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Chicken-Flavored Agar Agar Noodles, Pressure-Cooker Bolognese, Lemon-Curd-and-Black-Pepper Roasted Chicken, Clams Steamed in Ginger Beer with Texas Toast, Lamb Ribs with Chipotle-Malt Reduction, Pecan Treacle Tart
• Other highlights: Richard Blais might be a restaurant-trained chef and well-known for his antics on Top Chef, but this is absolutely a book for home cooks. I love that. Most of the recipes don't involve more than six main steps, and by and large, they use ingredients and techniques that are familiar to us.
Even so, prepared to be pushed out of your comfort zone — something else I like about the book. The flavors are familiar, but Blais combines them in surprising ways, like a coffee-infused butter for pancakes and lemon curd on roast chicken. These are the recipes that really get you into Blais's mindset: keep it fun, keep it playful, and just cook food you love.
While none of the recipes requires foamers or sous-vide machines, those options are there if you want them. Blais includes "2.0" variations with many of the recipes, which take those dishes one step further and help teach you the basics of the molecular gastronomy trade. If you are at all interested in things like sous vide cooking, topping your dishes with savory foams, and making transparent spagetti out of chicken stock, you absolutely need this book.
• Who would enjoy this book? Fans of Richard Blais, curious would-be molecular gastronomites, folks looking for something new and fun to make for dinner.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Try This At Home by Richard Blais
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Emma Christensen)