The Entrees is a very sophisticated cookbook. It’s quite a bit more upscale than my cooking, but I couldn’t bear to give it a poor review just because it’s over my culinary head. In the foreword, it is referred to as a “magnificent tome” which struck me as the perfect description. The Entrees is a collection of recipes from legendary chefs and restaurants, when food was served with a flourish, and calorie count was not a concern. To borrow a phrase from the book: this is the essences of old time gastronomy. These are definitely dishes that take a bit of planning and time, but would yield impressive results and certainly be worth your efforts.
Although I will probably not make many dishes from The Entrees, I still admire the book as a whole. It is well thought out and beautifully put together. Gail Monaghan carefully selected dishes that made her feel as though she was stepping back in time. Her criteria were threefold: the dish had to be delicious, contain no wildly expensive ingredients, and could be made in a home kitchen. The 75 selected recipes are organized by these chapters: Fish and Shellfish; Chicken, Duck, Guinea Hen, Pheasant, Turkey, and Rabbit; Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork; and Omelettes, Main Course Salads, Pasta and Polenta.
The dishes here are elegant and old school. Coulibiac of Salmon Colette is described as a Russian pie filled with fish, vegetables, rice and hard-boiled eggs, with the pastry crust carefully shaped and designed to resemble a whole fish. Braised Rabbit is a spiced stew that, given a chance, could convert you to love rabbit as more than just a fuzzy yard-dweller. There are less exotic dishes as well, including Beef Wellington, Steak Diane, and Chicken Tetazzini.
I adore Gail’s introduction to each recipe, and as a result, this is a bit like a cross between cooking instructions and a history lesson. These are fascinating, personal glimpses into history, like Diamond Jim’s Brady’s obsession with obtaining the Sole Marguery recipe, or Julia Child’s practical tips on preparing Navarin of Lamb. The Entrees is the cookbook that can keep you entertained for hours, and significantly raise your level of cooking. If you enjoy creating culinary masterpieces, this is most certainly the right cookbook for you.
Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and six year old son. She writes reviews of children’s books on her blog, FIRR-Kids and loves filling her own shelves with cookbooks.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Rizzoli Publications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.