Pros: OMG, truffles!!!! Plus good tips for homemade chicken stock.
Cons: None other than too many recipes as noted, and is too many recipes really a con?
First off I must confess two things: 1) I feel somewhat guilty in this crazy economy where so many people are having difficulty maintaining employment and putting food on the table to even be talking about something that can cost thousands of dollars a pound... and 2) I have the Truffle Brothers on speed dial. On the first confession, I will leave you with this food for thought: that before 2008, 16% of Chinese citizens struggled to pay for food and 9% of Americans, but in 2011 only 6% of Chinese and 19% of Americans struggled to pay for food. On the second confession, well, I am completely addicted to the sensual, exotic, earthy, incredible smell and taste of truffles. I must have some every season, and there's always homemade truffle butter in the freezer to get me through the rest of the year. It was nice to finally see such a lovely book dedicated to this beautiful rarity, and written from the heart of truffleland, Provence, by a woman who has passion for her subject and spent 25 years doing research.
The book has a very good introduction with lots of dreamy information about the truffle before it gets into its sixty recipes. The recipes have broadened my truffle horizons. It's nice to have some lighter fare, even salads, although the author does mention that a truffle's best friends are butter, cheese, cream, pasta, potatoes, etc. There are some truly outstanding recipes, but I might have preferred forty instead of sixty, to have only the most select, awe-inspiring recipes, especially since the ingredient is so precious. On that note, it's also good to know that if you don't have truffles, all recipes can be substituted with dried wild mushrooms, especially morels. If you are going to buy truffles, this book is a must -- I think I've paid more for the dirt I wiped off my truffles than the cover price of this book, so it is good value to help you get the most of those incredibly intense, wonderful little fungi.
Recipe: Truffled Saint-Marcellin
1 fresh black truffle, cleaned (about 1 ounce, 30g)
4 disks Saint-Marcellin cow's milk cheese, well chilled
4 slices Brioche, toasted, for serving
1. With a vegetable peeler, peel the truffle. Mince the truffle peelings, place them in the jar, and tighten the lid. Reserve the peelings for another use. With the mandoline or very sharp knife, cut the truffle into very thin slices. The truffle should yield about 20 slices.
2. With dental floss or very sharp knife, carefully slice one of the cheese in half at the equator, like a layer cake. Arrange about 5 truffle slices over the bottom half of the cheese. Replace the top half of the cheese. Wrap it securely in plastic wrap. Repeat for the remaining cheeses. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours to perfume the cheese with the truffles.
3. At serving time, arrange a rack in the oven about 3 inches from the heat source. Preheat the broiler.
4. Unwrap the cheeses and transfer them to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet under the broiler. As soon as the cheese begins to melt -- about 1 minute -- remove from the oven. With a spatula, carefully transfer the cheeses to small individual salad plates. Serve immediately, with the toasted brioche.