SIMPLE TO SOPHISTICATED
BY JEAN- GEORGES VONGERICHTEN AND MARK BITTMAN
PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY
SIMPLE TO SPECTACULAR
by jean-georges vongerichten and mark bittman
published by BROADWAY BOOKS
division of Random House
How to take one basic recipe
to four levels of sophistication.
That is the summary of the book for the Library of Congress
and I couldn't have put it any simpler. The premise that if
you can make the base or foundation of a piece, you are only
limited by your own imagination in creating more from that
I remember my cooking school
in Paris how we would complain
at making the same things over and over and the chef just
smiling saying something about "les bases de cuisine"....
and of course he was right that by setting the bar so high
to begin with, our creations from that foundation had every
possibility of succeeding.
This book merely helps your
imagination in taking those
steps in kicking up the basic recipe through three more
levels of sophistication.
Jean-Georges and Mark take
this to another level by supplying
us with three recipes beyond the basic one.
For example: Pizza.
1. Start with a pizza with
fresh sliced tomatoes, olive oil,
garlic, chopped basil.
Sounds great doesn't it? Next Level.
2. Pizza with olive oil,
sliced caramelized onions, black olives,
Hmm, a bit of Nicoise there i think.
3. Pizza with fromage blanc
or sour cream, sauteed onions,
bacon, chives, nutmeg.
maybe quiche lorraine or from Jean-Georges quiche alsace...
4. Tuna Wasabi Pizza with sushi quality tuna with wasabi/soy cream
Definitely the final level...with
credit given to American master,
Sauteed Chicken with
Green Olives and Cilantro
Yield: 4 servings
One 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut up for sautéing
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup onions, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
2-inch piece cinnamon
A few strands of saffron or 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
2 cups chicken stock or other stock
2 Tablespoons peanut or neutral-flavored oil, such as canola
2 Tablespoons green olives, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small
saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, cinnamon, saffron or
turmeric and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5
minutes. Add the stock and increase the heat to high; cook, stirring
occasionally, while you prepare the chicken. When the liquid has reduced
by about three-quarters and becomes syrupy, turn off the heat.
Heat the peanut or other oil in a large, preferably nonstick, ovenproof
skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Season the chicken on
both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side
down, and cook undisturbed until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Turn
over and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken skin
side down again, and place the skillet in the oven. Check it after 15
minutes, and remove the pieces as they are cooked through (the breasts
will be cooked before the legs; keep them warm).
When the chicken is just about done, finish the sauce. Stir in the
remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the olives and some salt (not too much
as the olives are salty) and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes over
medium-high heat stirring once or twice. Turn off the heat and add the
lemon juice and cilantro. Remove the cinnamon stick.
To serve, arrange the chicken on 4 plates. Spoon the sauce around it, not
over it, so the chicken stays crunchy.
Roast Chicken with
Pine or Rosemary
Yield: 4 servings
4 boneless chicken breast halves, preferably with skin on
3 Tablespoons canola, grapeseed, or other neutral-flavored oil
1 Tablespoon pine shoot needles or rosemary leaves, very finely minced
About 1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 Tablespoons hazelnuts, very finely minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with
pepper. Place the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it begins to smoke,
add the chicken, skin side down. Cook for about 3 minutes, until nicely browned,
then turn the chicken over and put the skillet in the oven for another 3 minutes or
so, until done.
While the chicken is cooking, mix the pine shoots or rosemary leaves with
coarse salt and the hazelnuts. Place one-fourth of this mixture on each of 4
Dill stuffed Shrimp
Yield: 4 servings
4 heaping Tablespoons sugar
24 large shrimp
4 Tablespoons dill or fennel fronds, freshly snipped
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Preheat the grill. Alternatively, you can
lemons, then broil the shrimp in the same oven.
Cut the pointed tips from the lemons, just enough so they'll sit flat.
lemons in half, then place them, flesh sides up, in a baking pan; sprinkle with
sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the sugar melts and the pulp is soft.
Meanwhile, peel the shrimp: slice each one almost in half through their
make a hinged shrimp that looks like this: )(. Mince the dill and sprinkle it over the
insides of the shrimp. Close the shrimp.
Mix the garlic and oil. Brush on the shrimp, then sprinkle with salt and
a pinch of
Grill or broil the shrimp until done, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with
lemons, squeezing some of the lemon juice over the shrimp.
When the chicken is done, place a piece on each of the plates. Add the
the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring, for just a minute, until reduced by
about half. Spoon a little of this juice over each breast and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Two 10- to 12-ounce halibut steaks
Flour for dredging
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
4 thyme sprigs
12 medium asparagus stalks, peeled
1 medium zucchini, cut into eight 1/4-inch-thick slices
8 artichoke hearts, preferably fresh but frozen are fine
1 large tomato, peeled, seeds and pulp discarded, flesh cut into rough
chunks (not small dice)
2 Tablespoons pitted black salt-cured olives
1/2 cup fresh or frozen and thawed peas
2 Tablespoons basil, roughly chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper
Sprinkle the fish with salt and cayenne, then dredge lightly in the flour,
off the excess. Place a large, heavy saucepan or skillet, preferably non-stick, over
high heat. A minute later, add the olive oil and butter. When the butter melts,
place the halibut in the pan, with the garlic and thyme around it.
Cook for 1 minute, then add the asparagus, zucchini, and artichokes. Reduce
heat to medium-high and cover the pan. About 4 minutes later, when the
underside of the halibut is browned, turn it. Add 1/2 cup water, along with the
tomato and olives. Replace the lid and cook for 2 more minutes.
Remove the halibut, which should be slightly underdone, and keep it warm
200°F oven. Replace the lid and continue to cook the vegetables for another 2
minutes, adding a little water if necessary. The mixture should be loose, but not
at all soupy. Add the peas and increase the heat to high. Season the vegetable
mixture with salt and pepper, then return the fish to the pan. Cook for another
minute or two, scooping the vegetables and the juice onto the fish.
Cover and turn off the heat; let the dish rest for a minute. Remove the
vegetables to plates, then garnish with the basil and a little coarse salt. Eat with
Tuna Spring Roll with
Yield: 4 servings
Four 3-ounce pieces of tuna, cut into rectangles
4 spring roll wrappers
1 cup soybeans, blanched and peeled
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon nampla (Thai fish sauce)
1 chile pepper, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Wrap spring roll around tuna and deep fry for 1 minute in 375°F
oil and season with salt and slice 4 times.
Mix in blender all ingredients. Serve as dipping sauce.
Lobster with Thai Herb Sauce
1 1/2 pound lobster, blanched
for 2 minutes
1 small head bok choy
1 carrot, julienned
1 apple, julienned
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon of mixed curry (red, yellow, green)
1/2 cup white port
1 stalk lemongrass
1 lime leaf
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder
1 cup whipped cream
Cut blanched lobster in two. Cut bok choy in slices, reserve.
In a shallow pan, add butter, carrot and apple, curries, lemongrass. Sweat
minutes. Deglaze with white port. Reduce by 3/4. Add turmeric powder. Finish
sauce with whipped cream. Season with salt. Sauté lobster and bok choy. Arrange
and serve with sauce and coriander.
Chicken with Coconut
1/2 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chile, chopped
2 slices galangal or ginger
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 2-inch sticks and smashed
1 teaspoon red thai curry paste
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups coconut milk
Fish sauce (nampla) to taste (available at Asian specialty markets)
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 pieces scallion, sliced
4 sprigs coriander
2 raw chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
12 shiitake caps, cut into strips
Sweat the onions, garlic, chile, galangal, lemongrass and curry paste in
for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for 1/2 hour
At the last minute, add coconut milk, chicken breast, shiitakes. Season
nampla and lime juice. Cook 2 minutes. Divide into 4 bowls. Garnish with scallions
and coriander springs. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Located at Columbus Circle
in the lobby level of Donald
Trump's International Hotel and Tower, restaurant Jean
Georges is among New York City's very small circle of 4-star
restaurants. Designer Adam Tihany has created a visually
stunning space, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking
Central Park and a soothing palette of taupe, ecru and silver.
The restaurant is divided into two dining rooms - the 4-star
Jean Georges and Nougatine, a slightly more casual dining
room with a sophisticated, hip bar scene and an exhibition
kitchen with a full view of Jean-Georges and his staff at
work. During the warmer months, you can enjoy outdoor
dining and cocktails at the Mistral Terrace, with views of
Central Park. In conceiving this restaurant Jean-Georges
wanted to bring back the elegance of tableside service to
accompany his signature style of modern French cooking.
"It is time to revive the kind of service that is reminiscent of
the 40's and 50's," states the Chef and Co-owner. "We
wanted to bring back tableside service for two reasons: first,
because it is elegant and graceful; second and more
importantly, I felt it was time to bring the excitement and
the wonderful aromas of food preparation back into the
dining room. After all, we cooks are the ones that have been
having all the fun in the kitchen -- that first aromatic smell
of freshly sliced meat or the placement of the perfect garnish
to finish a dish will now be experienced by the guests. It will
add a sense of aliveness and conviviality to the dining room
that focuses on the food."
The cuisine at Jean Georges is based on the
deceivingly-simple philosophy of using the highest quality
ingredients and preparing them in a way that allows their
natural flavors to stand on their own. Whenever possible,
meats and fish are cooked whole, on the bone, to keep their
flavors and juices intact, and then served tableside. As a
man in a constant quest to find and refine new flavors to
pique his interest and our palates, Jean-Georges spents
months of research and weeks of foraging Upstate New York,
that he clearly defined his new palette of seasonings and
accompaniments for his menu at Jean Georges -- wild edible
plants. Garlic Mustard, Yarrow, Sylvetta, Burnet, Chickweed
and Nettles, to name just a few. Used to garnish a dish,
sautéed as an accompaniment, or added as an integral
seasoning in a sauce, they are found throughout the menu
and change regularly with the seasons. These old flavors,
brand new to our 20th century palates, are clean, intense
and pure, and add a depth of flavor to the food.
The Jean Georges dining room is opened for lunch Monday
through Friday and for dinner Monday through Saturday.
Nougatine is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Internationally reputed for
his innovative, groundbreaking cuisine, Jean-Georges
Vongerichten has emerged as one of the country's leading chefs. Acclaimed by critics
as 'formidably gifted,' a 'residential genius' and the 'enfant terrible of modern French
cooking', his culinary vision has consistently set new standards and helped define
today's generation of cooking.
In 1986, Jean-Georges
Vongerichten burst onto the New York dining scene at the
Lafayette in the Drake Swissotel, dazzling diners with his innovative interpretation of
classic French cuisine and earning four stars from The New York Times at the age of
29. In the first of many bold moves that has established him as a culinary
trendsetter, Jean-Georges traded in this formal 4-star dining room for paper-clothed
tables and opened his charming bistro Jo Jo in 1991.
At Jo Jo, he
introduced us to his 'vibrant and spare cuisine' whose intense flavors
and satisfying textures he created by eschewing traditional meat stocks for
vegetables juices and fruit essences, light broths and herbal vinaigrettes. Jo Jo was
named Best New Restaurant of the Year by John Mariani in Esquire and earned
three-stars from The New York Times, which summed up his contemporary French
cuisine in the sentence "His food took my breath away."
next venture, Vong, paid homage to the spices and flavors of the
East, a passion he developed during the three and a half years he lived and worked
in the Orient. Using over 150 different herbs and spices to create his unique take on
Thai- inspired French cuisine, the menu at Vong wowed both critics and patrons,
earning yet another three-star review from The New York Times for his "explosively
flavorful food." In an adjacent space to Vong, Vongerichten also opened The Lipstick
Cafe, a stylish cafe that caters to the midtown business crowd and serves breakfast
and lunch in a casual, upscale setting.
A year and a
half later in November of 1995, Vongerichten opened a second Vong in
the Knightsbridge area of London, earning a three star review and the 1996 vote for
the London Evening Standard's Newcomer of the Year. In September 1997, he
opened Vong in The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, where he has already
received accolades from local media. A fourth Vong opened in April 1999 in Chicago.
In March of
1997 Jean-Georges opened restaurant Jean Georges in the Trump
International Hotel and Tower, earning a 4-star review from The New York Times less
than three months after opening; he was also awarded the coveted Chef of the Year
award from John Mariani at Esquire magazine and the Best New Restaurant award by
the James Beard Foundation.
His most recent
New York City project (July 1998), The Mercer Kitchen at the stylish
Mercer Hotel in SoHo, features an American-Provencal menu and Ecommunal style
tables in the open kitchen area where hotel guests and diners may choose to eat,
converse and watch the kitchen's activities. In October of 1998 Jean Georges
opened Prime, a steakhouse located in Steve Wynn's much-anticipated Bellagio Hotel
in Las Vegas.
and Traditional Training
Born and raised on the outskirts of Strasbourg in Alsace, Jean-Georges' earliest family
memories are about food. The Vongerichten home centered around the kitchen,
where each day his mother and grandmother would prepare lunch for the almost 50
employees in their family-owned business. "I would wake every morning to the most
wonderful smells," reminisces Jean-Georges "and I quickly became known as 'the
palate' to my family, tasting each sauce and dish, recommending salt or some more
herbs." His love for food cemented into his choice for a career at the age of 16,
when his parents brought him to the 3-star Michelin-rated Auberge de l'Ill for a
began his training soon after in a work-study program at the Auberge
de l'Ill as an apprentice to chef Paul Haeberlin. He went on to work with the top
chefs in France, including Paul Bocuse and master-chef Louis Outhier at L'Oasis in
the south of France. With this impressive three-star Michelin training, Vongerichten
won a position at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. From 1980 to 1985, he opened an
impressive 10 restaurants around the world, including the Meridien Hotel in Singapore
and the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong; it was during this time spent in Asia that
Jean-Georges developed his love for the exotic and aromatic flavors of the East that
would later translate into his own interpretation on his menu at Vong.
arrived in the United States in 1985, opening the Lafayette restaurant
in Boston. A year later he arrived in New York to take over the executive chef
position at Lafayette there.
Awards and Accolades,
plus a Cookbook or Two
Jean-Georges Vongerichten currently holds an unprecedented total of twelve stars
from The New York Times for his four New York City restaurants, JoJo, Vong, Jean
Georges and The Mercer Kitchen. In 1998 Jean-Georges was awarded three medals
at the James Beard Restaurant Awards Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Chef,
and Who's Who of Food & Beverage; it is the first time that a chef was awarded best
new restaurant and outstanding chef in the same year.
of 1998 Broadway Books published Jean-Georges' second cookbook,
Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef, which adapts recipes from all
of his restaurants for the home cook. His first book, Simple Cuisine features recipes
that include his vegetable broths and vinaigrettes and the clean flavors he favors at
Jo Jo. Jean-Georges has appeared as a guest on the Martha Stewart Show, Live!
with Regis & Kathie Lee, the Today Show and Good Morning America as well as doing
several guest spots on the TV Food Network. He is featured in the PBS series, In
Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs with Julia Child, broadcast in 1995.