Friday, October 30, 2009

Stir, The Cookbook, By Barbara Lynch

Chef Barbara Lynch's new cookbook, Stir, will be published on November 2nd. Houghton Mifflin generously provided me with a galley copy of the book.  It is a great read for people who simply want to get a sense of Chef Lynch as a cook and to have a glimpse into her recipes.  It gives an insight into  the rich cooking at her restaurants such as Number 9 Park, Sportello and B & G Oysters.  Few people may actually attempt to recreate her prune-stuffed gnocchi with fois gras, but they can at least read how she creates them at Number 9 Park.  It also gives those of us who fondly remember a dish, such as the tomato jam at Sportello, the chance to recreate it at home. 

Confident cooks will also enjoy this book.  One dish, such as chicken meatballs, includes directions for breaking down a chicken and grinding your own meat.  More experienced chefs could either manage this with Chef Lynch's directions, while others (like me) will feel comfortable picking up ground chicken at the store. There are also wonderful tips throughout the books, such as how to use a gnocchi board or the need for a ricer to make perfect mashed potatoes.  

Be forewarned that many of the recipes include ample eggs and cream. For example,  the recipe for homemade pasta calls for 6 egg yolks, while turnips are simmered in over 2 cups of cream! However, this also means that you can use these recipes for times you want to be indulgent, such as Thanksgiving or having good friends over for dinner. There are also recipes for salads and light sauces.  

I chose to cook a meal from the book. I started with a salad with a fabulous golden raisin, pine nut vinaigrette.  Next, I tried the quick chicken liver pate. It was good, though I used a bit too much port which made the dish too sweet.
The main dish was her "Poulet Au pain" or chicken wrapped in dough. Chef Lynch herself had recommended this dish when I interviewed her over the summer. And it was, in fact, as good as I had hoped. Not only was this incredibly simple to prepare, but it looks fantastic. Best of all, it is best made in advance, so it is perfect for cooking on a weekend afternoon.   While one taster declared it too rich, my husband and sons couldn't stop eating the buttery shell that was heavenly soaked with chicken fat. The chicken itself was juicy and flavorful. 

I served it with B & G Coleslaw.  It also took just a few minutes to prepare with the help of a Cuisinart to shred the cabbage and carrots and a jar of mayonnaise. FoodieDaddy preferred it without onions, but we all agreed it was delicious and went perfectly with the chicken. 
If there is one reason to buy this book, though, it is the recipe for "My Favorite Chocolate Cookies."  I knew these would be rich as they included 2 1/2 sticks of butter, 2 cups of chopped chocolate and cocoa!  I was also thrilled that they are egg-free for my egg-allergic sons. 
 They were quick to prepare and disappeared just as quickly.  They were crumbly, tender and rich. They had a perfect balance of salt, sugar, and, were, of course, deeply chocolatey.  Instead of chopping up a bar of bittersweet chocolate, I used a Trader Joe's bar with almonds which added another delicious layer of texture.  My mother pointed out that they would be heavenly with ice cream. I just kept devouring them with glasses of milk.  I also loved that I could throw the frozen dough in the freezer to bake when I craved them.  This will, without a doubt, be the recipe I use when I need to bring a plate of cookies somewhere. It is that perfect.

Finally, a friend tried the "Slow-Roasted Clams with Spicy Tomato Sauce." She loved it so much that she went on to make it about 6 more times!
She noted that with the exception of the clams, you can easily make this with ingredients that you have in your house, with almost no work.  She also enjoyed the pepper agrodolce (or sweet-sour sauce.)

For a good read, a phenomenal cookie recipe and some treats, you can buy Stir at bookstores on November 2nd, 2009.


  1. Girl, those Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies look pretty darn good. Did you happen to save any for me?

  2. I made the Poulet du pain and wondered do you need the 1/2 tsp of sugar for the bread? it is such a small amount. I loved this