Already a household name and culinary icon, Jacques Pépin has dedicated more than 50 years of his life to the culinary arts. He is world renowned as the host of his acclaimed and popular cooking programs on public television, and as an author, instructor and gifted artist.
Jacques takes the traditional long-cooked cassoulet of southwestern France and turns it into a 30-minute Cassoulet that can be made for family or company on a weeknight. It's a meal in itself, but even better with the addition of Avocado Halves in Red Sauce, Smoked Salmon Timbales or a Zucchini and Tomato Salad and a refreshing dessert of Oranges and Cream Cheese.
At the end of a long day, a large bowl of an earthy soup or stew like Corn and Hominy Chowder or Red Snapper with Mussels and Chorizo can be the perfect meal. In addition, Jacques prepares a quick Cheese Crostini and a Banana Bourbon Coupe, a special ending to any meal.
Cooking Under Pressure
Jacques, having grown up in France during the war, hates waste! The cooking liquid, juices and bodies of lobsters used in Lobster Salad with Tarragon can be used for Lobster Bisque. Servings of Pressure-Cooker Lamb and White Bean Stew can be extended by serving with Couscous or starting with an Asian Eggplant Salad. Jacques also makes a cost-conscious ricotta and graham cracker dessert, Ricotta Honey Mix.
Dessert "Pick Me Up"
After more than 50 years in the kitchen, Jacques still finds new ways to cook a chicken. For Chicken Breasts on Mashed Cauliflower with Red Salsa, the cooking method is classic, but the combination of flavors is fresh. It's a perfect winter dish paired with Smoked Trout Salad with Horseradish Cream and finished off with Pineapple Slices in Kirsch with Sherbet or Mock Tiramisu.
Apple a Day
After a busy day, dinner shouldn't be another challenge. Jacques shares the Shrimp Burger he discovered at Dr. Taco in Playa del Carmen and a great improvisational Bean Purée with Anchovies or Smoked Oysters. With the appetite under control, there is time to work on Wonton Cannelloni in Tomato Sauce, Parsley and Pumpkin Seed Salad and Caramelized Apple Granola Timbales.
Jacques believes culinary inspiration can come from an infinite number of sources. French classics inspire his Codfish Brandade and Chicken Breasts with Garlic and Parsley, peas add sweetness to Brococoli Rabe and Pea Fricassee, brownies take on a new look in a Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Cake and a hot day and a ripe pineapple inspired a Pineapple Frosty.
Jacques was born hungry so many of his first courses are easily adapted to main courses. Baby Mozzarella Salad, Scrambled Eggs with Mushrooms and Truffles, Sautéed Quail with Raita and Cubed Potatoes with Garlic and Sage are all easily adjusted to fit different appetites. Jacques' good friend, Jean-Claude Szurdak, stops by and offers to prepare Pears in Honeyed Wine as a welcome dessert.
Jacques has gone foraging for mushrooms since childhood, but in Mushroom Velouté with Almonds, Instant Beef Tenderloin Stew and Mushroom and Raisin Chutney he uses older, store-bought, white button mushrooms with great results. He also creates a starter of Red Beets in Sour Cream and a finish of Apple, Pecan and Apricot Crumble in no time.
A pressure cooker is a means of fast, efficient cooking as in Jacques' Veal Roast. To serve with it, Skillet Endives quickly provide a more concentrated taste. Two great starters, Summer Salad Santé and Tomato and Mozzarella Fans, are best with fresh ingredients from the garden, while Pear Brown Betty uses leftover baked goods.
Jacques gets inspired at the market. Scrambled Eggs on Tomato Jus can be enhanced by the addition of cheeses, vegetables, and herbs. Grilled Striped Bass with Pimento Relish can be varied by using the freshest fish and herbs available. Jacques also introduces the beautifully refreshing Pink Grapefruit Terrine, as well as the Asian inspired Cauliflower with Scallions and Sesame Oil and a quick Ham Cornucopia.
When guests stop by and leave little time for preparation, there are easy fix-its. Tuna Tomatoes and Salmon Tartare on Cauliflower Salad are beautiful "do ahead" dishes for lunch or a first course. Breaded Pork Scaloppine with Mushroom Sauce, Chickpea Ragout and Caramelized Peaches can be prepared as a perfect evening supper.
Jacques believes in great food everyday. As long as the ingredients are on hand, Prosciutto and Figs or Crab Cakes in Red Sauce need not be saved for special occasions. Pasta, Ham and Vegetable Gratin can make use of leftover meats and vegetables and creates a nice balance when served with a salad of Romaine and Radicchio with Salsa Dressing. Big Almond Macaroons with Apricot Filling make any day feel special.
Under The Sea
Inspired by his mother, Jeannette, Jacques prepares an Egg and Tomato Gratin and Greens with Quick Cream Dressing. His wife Gloria inspired the first course, Smoked Whitefish Tartine. Stuffed Scallops on Mushroom Rice and Pineapple Wedges in Caramel would inspire anyone wanting great food!
Wrap It Up
A sit-down dinner with family and friends doesn't have to be formal. Devil Shrimp, Sausage and Potato Packets with Homemade Mustard, Mushroom and Walnut Salad in Sour Cream Dressing and Apple Peel Granité with Apple Purée are dishes that bring the ease of a picnic inside. Jacques assembles a plate full of Basil, Cheese, Fig and Nut Bites, an easy light lunch or a perfect cheese course.
Sometimes the key to fast food is a well-stocked refrigerator and pantry. Leftover vegetables become a Pépin favorite with Jacques' Instant Vegetable Soup, also known as "fridge soup." By combining a few fresh products and kitchen staples, it is simple to prepare a Lavash Pizza, Halibut on Fresh Polenta with Pepper Oil, Pole Beans with Shallots and Hasty Pudding with Apricot Sauce.
On a chilly evening, what could be better for dinner than a cup of soup or a casserole? Jacques shows how homey, comforting foods like Silky Tomato Soup with Spinach Coulis, Little Shrimp Casseroles, Toasted Bread and Mozzarella and a Rhubarb and Berry Crumble can also be great for a party. Apricot Sherbet is a light, easy, make-ahead dessert.
Jacques has no favorite dishes when it comes to cooking and eating; he likes it all! Guava Delicioso, Chopped Chicken Livers with Spinach Salad, Glazed Salmon in Mirin, Silky Chestnut and Apple Puree and Warm Chocolate Cakes with Apricot-Cognac Sauce show the diversity in Jacques' repertoire.
Stick to Your Ribs
Jacques proves how fast and easy it can be to use a pressure cooker to make Beef Short Rib, Mushroom and Potato Stew. Meanwhile, there is plenty of time to prepare a starter of Sweet Potato Chowder or Scallop Seviche and Guacamole. The elegant Champagne on Fruit "Rocks" can be the perfect ending to any meal.
Dining Al Fresco
Take a little extra time at the grocery store or specialty market and introduce new ingredients to the pantry. Mirin, a sweet Japanese rice wine, adds crisp, light flavor to Sea Bass Gravlax with Cucumbers. Anchovies and tuna in oil are part of a quick sauce for Chicken Tonnato. A can of chestnut puree makes the dense Chestnut and Chocolate Cake an easy to prepare, at-home luxury. A different jam or vinegar makes Blueberries in Raspberry Sauce with Ice Cream and Summertime Salad sparkle.
Use Your Noodle
Jacques has spent more than forty years in the United States, but still embraces the French style of eating eggs for lunch or dinner. Bowtie Pasta with Fried Eggs and Cheese or an omelet, made side-by-side with dear friend Jean-Claude Szurdak, with a Crusty Tomato Savory is among Jacques' favorite meals. He prepares his mother's Peasant Soup, but dishes like Shrimp and Scallop Pillows on Boston Lettuce and a Grapefruit Gratinee are all Jacques'.
Classic combinations shine in Jacques' dishes. Cannellini and Chorizo Soup combines flavorful chorizo and beans. A fennel salad works well alone or as the base of Salmon Rolls on Fennel Salad. Spicy spinach with raisins, pimiento, garlic and olive oil is well-paired with Broiled Lamp Chops with Spinach and super quick Baked Potatoes with Chive Sour Cream. Just make sure to leave room for Crepes with Banana-Rum Filling.
One of Jacques' all time favorite desserts easily becomes two and is a snap to make. Two Raspberry Gratins need little more than frozen raspberries and cookies. It's the perfect ending to the festive Red Snapper with Tomatoes and Cream and Asparagus with Shallots. Garden greens are topped with Sardine Rolls wrapped in rice paper and a Summertime Pasta shows off the freshest produce of the season.
Jacques loves to cook with the seasons, but many ingredients are actually available year-round. A Smoked Salmon Plate using Scottish or Irish salmon, Soupy Rice with Peas using fresh or frozen peas, Fast Lobster Fricassee using summer or winter lobster, Broccoli Puree with Brown Butter, Broccoli Stem Relish and Vanilla Hazelnut Dessert are all favorites.
Once again, Jacques demonstrates techniques to help you spend less time in the kitchen. Asparagus Custards and an Apple Skillet Cake can be done ahead and re-heated. A quick Cold Black Bean Soup can be made in minutes and Slow-cooked Tuna Steaks with Tomato Relish free up the cook while the oven does most of the work.
Summertime and the cooking should be easy. Keep the heat in the tortillas and out of the kitchen with a quick, spicy Quesadilla. Check the farmers' market for the freshest tomatoes to make Tomato Tartare with Tomato Water Sauce and sweet strawberries for Strawberry-Shortbread Panachee. When summer is over, turn frozen peas into a Puree of Peas with Mint and Cilantro and warm up with Rigatoni with Mussels and Saffron.
Jacques' world travels influence his cooking and with this menu we'll savor the essence of Spain. Bold and Spicy Gazpacho kicks off the meal followed by Shellfish and Chicken Paella. A detour to pick up some Caribbean flavors makes the last dish of Pineapple In Dark Rum Sauce worth a trip to the kitchen.
Jacques fires up the kitchen with a mouth-watering Skirt Steak Grandma accented with freshly squeezed lime in anchovy and garlic sauce. He complements this hearty dish with a classic Gnocchi with Eggs and Scallions and Sauteed Curly Mustard Greens with Hot Sausage. The elegantly presented Chestnut Cream Mont-Blanc, with crushed pieces of scrumptious biscotti, chestnut puree, and whipped cream, is simply a delicious ending.
Lobster Roll Medallions on Spinach Salad show off Jacques new presentation of a summer seafood favorite. He proves that a craving for hearty food can be satisfied in minutes with Quick Lamb Stew where vegetables are cooked separately and the lamb is served rare. Then skip the time and effort it takes to make the crust for a tart and head straight for the filling in this shortcut that encases Small Berry Custards in pretty dishes.
Simple Sweet Notes
Jacques cuts the cooking time of a whole chicken in half with a pair of shears and a few cuts of his knife in this flavorful Roasted Split Chicken with a Mustard Crust. Fluffy Mashed Potatoes make the perfect side dish. Pizza is made quicker and easier when you use a ready made base, and Jacques personalizes it with an unusual twist when he crisps Lavash to make Smoked Salmon Pizza garnished with capers, onion and cilantro. He concludes with a no-frills Greek Yogurt, Walnuts and Honey arguably one of his fastest desserts.
Combining silky tuna, crunchy apples, herbaceous chives and piquant shallots, Jacques assembles a mountain of fresh Bluefin Tuna Tartare with Apple to open the show. Inspired by the flavors of the east, Jacques prepares exotic Lamb Burgers with Feta Cheese cooked rare and served with a refreshing Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce and a gratin of sorts called Corn Parfait. He ends his cooking adventure with Cream Cheese and Fruit Medley.