Cooking 101 with chef Daniel Boulud

Chef Daniel Boulud Signs Copies Of HIs Book "Daniel: My French Cuisine"
Chef Daniel Boulud says keep your pantry stocked with Tabasco and Sriracha. We can hang.
Credit: Getty

You may never be able to create flawlessly executed dishes like the ones served in Daniel Boulud’s Michelin-starred restaurants, but the French culinary master’s new book, “Daniel: My French Cuisine,” which celebrates the 20th anniversary of his famous New York outpost, not only sheds some light on his food philosophies but includes some easier, casual recipes the chef makes at home.

Since we’re new at this whole cooking thing, we asked chef Boulud about the essentials every budding home cook needs to know along with the must-haves for our pantries. Good news: Tabasco made the cut.

What is the most important skill to learn when you’re starting to cook?
I think that basic knife skills, which is knowing how to handle a knife, and knowing how to peel, cut, slice, chop basically anything is important. Then it’s important to learn temperature. You have to master the heat, it’s not always about rushing as much as having the perfect heat for what you prepare. You also have to have a sense of time. Timing is everything when you cook.

What is one dish that people new to the kitchen should have in their back pocket?
A braised meat or a braised fish. Braising, as we enter winter, is the most soulful, warm and cheerful dish you can make. It takes some preparation, that’s why I think to be a good cook at home, it’s important to have good preparation, to learn how to get organized. You prepare yourself to have the best ingredients, you prepare yourself to have a timetable.

What ingredients should people splurge on, and which, in your opinion, are not such a big deal?
You can always splurge on truffle —  but it’s expensive. If you buy truffle for yourself, you have to calculate about six grams per serving. If you really want to splurge, it’s 10 grams per serving. 

What about some more everyday ingredients?
To me, [I’d splurge on] a beautiful fish, shellfish — I love shellfish. Being in New York, you have the Littleneck clams from Long Island, you have muscles. Lobster is a very good thing to splurge on. I would splurge on wild mushroom during the season when they’re at their best. That’s wonderful with risotto. I will also splurge on things like saffron because it gives a wonderful, delicate flavor. And I’ll splurge on spice, because the spice will make every dish come more alive. My favorite place for spices is La Boite.

 

What are some pantry items everybody should have stocked?

Olive oil. It’s a question of taste, but it’s important to have some high quality olive oil, one from Provence, one from Italy. I use Manni olive oil for finishing my dishes. And just lately, I tasted olive oil from Jean Reno, which is fantastic. It’s available at D’Artagnan.

Excellent vinegars and also a young balsamic to cook with. My favorite is from chef Massimo Bottura. Maille is also a very good vinegar. Melfor vinegar — that’s a vinegar which has a little bit of honey, is very delicious. I also have a sherry vinegar from Spain, Jerez vinegar.

Good mustard. Because I’m French, I love mustard.

And always, pickles. You can have Japanese pickles, which I love, but also French pickles — cornichon, pearl onion. That is important to have many different pickles, because pickles last forever, so it’s not a problem.

Seafood in cans. One thing I always have in my pantry is sardines in cans, tuna in cans and anchovies in cans. It’s nice if you have a little craving. You make some toast, you put some butter, you crush some sardines on it with a little bit of onion and celery and you make a wonderful toast.

Condiments. All kinds of condiments, A1 sauce, the Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha, Tabasco. I love Tabasco. Sometimes when we travel we bring back condiments. It’s like a special gift that comes from that country.

Hard cheese. I always have it in my fridge, because when the cheese is two years old, it’s no problem to keep it for another two months.

 

What are some of your hosting tips?

Make dishes like soup, salad, charcuterie, shellfish and smoked fish platters that can be served cold in advance and finish at serving time.

For the main course, make a pot meal like a braise or a pre-roasted roast and keep it warm at a very low temp oven to not overcook it.

For large groups, buffets are still the best solution with a lot of Middle Eastern dips, crackers, chips, bread, charcuterie with root vegetable slaw, vegetable tarts and a cheese platter with dried fruits, jam, nuts, honey and whole grain bread.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…