I received Tony Bourdain’s book, Les Halles Cookbook, as part of the Amateur Gourment’s Secret Santa book exchange. I wish I could remember the name of the gal who sent it to me, but being dim-witted, I can no longer find my notes. It is actually one of my favorite books in my collection and I am sorry I cannot thank my kind Secret Santa pal appropriately.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Tony Bourdain pisses some people off. He is pretty socially unacceptable. Drinkin’, smokin’, cussin’ and getting’ stoned does not make him the best role model in the world. But it works for him - and it definitely works for me. I like him because he reminds me of all the hard partying cooks I met during my short stint as a fish cutter at a now defunct high end restaurant. That job made me admire a crew that could crank out 500 meals in a night and still have the energy to party afterwards. It also let me know that I do not have what it really takes to be a good cook in a restaurant environment. I love food, but it’s the love of a home cook who likes to cook according to her own whim, not the whim of 500 other hungry souls and a demanding chef.
Food TV, I think, regrets their brief, yet violent association with Mr. Bourdain. He was just a little to “on edge” for the white bread, goody two shoes image they like to promote. I think the best thing about A Cook’s Tour was reading the accompanying book. While the national food media may be editing him for prime time, he pulls no punches in his writing. I respect that. He may be a whore, but he is a whore with principles. (He probably doesn’t do Golden Showers either. I’ll make a point to ask if I ever meet him.)
The good news is, while Food TV was a little to pansy for him, he seems to have found a good home on the Travel Channel. I mean they renewed his series “No Reservations” for another season. I have to wonder if they made him promise not to write a book about it…hmmmm…
So, Tony Bourdain, thanks for making me want to be a better cook. You bastard.
Today- I tackled making brown stock. I had always avoided it. Why? The raft. To clarify a stock, you have to put this god-awful mess of eggs whites and ground meat and other stuff on top and simmer the stock until it gets all nice and clear. Plus, I never really had a good place to store it. Tony (the hubby, not the chef) bought me a chest freezer to store my frozen goods in. So with the advent of the freezer and a lot of verbal abuse from Tony Bourdain (via Les Halles Cookbook) – I grabbed the bull by the horns and made some beef stock.
Bourdain says up front this stock will not get me a position in a four star kitchen anytime soon, but it will make some killer food on the home front. That’s all I can really ask.
The basics are very simple - browned bones, browned mire pox, water, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves. Put in a pot and simmer. Skim. Strain. Enjoy. If you want to know Tony’s exact instructions, grab a copy of the book and read. I just hope your ego is up to a good pounding.