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Ad Hoc at Home

Leek and Bread Pudding Peperonata Rustica Fingerling or Sweet Potato Chips

Author Photograph of Thomas Keller About Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller, chef/proprietor of Napa Valley's French Laundry and New York's per se, may be the most acclaimed chef in America, but that doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy a home-cooked meal. Born in California and raised in Maryland and Florida, Keller says some of his fondest food memories are of delicious and iconic American dishes: fried chicken and homemade biscuits, spareribs, corn on the cob, burgers and fries, and coconut cake. These are the dishes that inspired his more casual eatery, Ad Hoc, in Yountville, California. And in Ad Hoc at Home,he steps out of his restaurant kitchen to offer a huge collection of recipes for doable and beloved everyday meals.

This is the uncomplicated Thomas Keller as he'd cook at home--no intricate garnishes, no immersion circulators. These recipes, prepared with the help of Ad Hoc chef Dave Cruz, are meant to be served from big bowls and platters, passed hand to hand at the table. Here are simple recipes for hearty soups and salads, braised short ribs, and chicken potpie. Homey desserts vie for your favor—peaches and cream, pineapple upside-down cake, strawberry shortcake, ice cream sandwiches, even a banana split. A vast chapter of recipes for homemade tapenades, chutneys, compotes, jams and jellies, mustards, marmalades, and pickled, cured, and confited fruits and vegetables will stock a pantry and refrigerator with all you need to elevate the simplest meal in seconds.

But Keller is also a born teacher, and the pages of Ad Hoc at Home are chock-full of unique tips and techniques from this great chef. He makes you a more comfortable and better cook by answering such questions as: How much oil should you use when you saute? What's the secret to a superlative hamburger? And what's the best way to skim soups, peel tomatoes, pit cherries, dress salads, salt meats, chop chives, brine birds, make croutons, and dozens of other terrific, invaluable ideas, Keller reveals these and other techniques in step-by-step photos with whimsy and a warmth and conviviality that infuse the entire book. From truck-stop classics like Potato Hash with Bacon and Melted Onions to such nostalgic fare as beef Stroganoff (made without Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup), the recipes in this lively cookbook make good old-fashioned food great.

Thomas Keller has nine restaurants and bakeries in the United States. In addition to The French Laundry, per se, and Bouchon (in Yountville, Las Vegas, and Beverly Hills), there are three Bouchon bakeries, and Ad Hoc--his family-style Yountville restaurant, which (like this book) features the comfort food he enjoyed while growing up. Keller is the author of three cookbooks: French Laundry, Bouchon, and Under Pressure.

Ad Hoc at Home For a detailed description & pricing information click here.

Keller showcases dishes that can be made every day (and not just for special occasions). Invaluable lessons, secrets, tips and tricks--as well as charming personal anecdotes--accompany recipes for such classics as the best fried chicken, beef Stroganoff, roasted spring leg of lamb, hamburger, the crispiest fried fish, chicken soup with dumplings, potato hash with bacon and melted onions, and superlative grilled cheese sandwiches, apple fritters, buttermilk biscuits, relishes and pickles, cherry pie-- more...

Friends of Thomas Keller

The Introduction

It delights me to offer here a big collection of family meals and everyday staples, delicious approachable food, recipes that are doable at home. No immersion circulator required. No complicated garnishes. I promise!

Here is food meant to be served from big bowls and platters passed hand to hand at the table--hearty soups and vegetable salads, potato hash with bacon and onions, braised short ribs, chicken potpie, peaches and cream, and pineapple upside-down cake. This is the food I love to sit down to with my family and friends. It's food that makes you feel good.

The pace of life today is so quick, and we often feel so rushed and disconnected from one another, as well as from the sources of our food, that it's easy to forget how powerful the ritual of eating together can be. To be able to sit around the table, passing food, sharing stories of the day, with the sense that for an hour or so, the outside world can be set aside, is a gift to embrace. Some days life is sweet, other days life can be hard, but the one thing we can always strive to do, is to partake of the comfort and pleasure of sharing a meal with those we hold dear.

Shortly after we set out to write this book, my father died. I was very lucky to have had him just next door to me during the last years of his life and to be able to cook for him. I cooked his last meal, and we shared it together. I remember it happily: his favorite, barbecued chicken with mashed potatoes and braised collard greens. I remember the collard greens especially because I hadn't originally intended to serve them. But when I saw them in the grocery store, they were so big and vivid, I felt compelled to choose them. It was spring, and the first strawberries were in season, so I made strawberry shortcake. It was a good dinner. And now I am unspeakably grateful to have made it--that dinner remains important to me. And so does the food we--friends and family--would have in the following days, brought together in grief, comforted by food.

When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately, life is better, no matter your circumstances. Whether it's a sad or difficult time, whether it's an ordinary-seeming day, or whether it's a time of celebration, our lives are enriched when we share meals together.

And that's what the food in this book is all about.

Baked Beets


Beets get a bad rap--so many of us grew up thinking of beets only in canned form. But fresh, they're wonderfully sweet. I love to bake beets in foil with some salt and pepper and oil and eat them straight from the oven, sometimes even with a little maple syrup and vinegar. These beets would go well with salmon, duck, or [the] Peppercorn-Crusted Beef Tenderloin...

If you can't find beets that are similar in size, separate the beets by size as well as color and cook them in batches.

  • 12 medium beets (about 12 ounces total), preferably 4 each red, Chioggia, and golden
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Trim the sterns of the beets to about l/2 inch and scrub the beets well.

Put each type of beet in a separate bowl, toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put 3 pieces of aluminum foil large enough to enclose 4 of the beets on a work surface. Put 1 tablespoon butter in the center of each piece. Top each with one of the types of beets and any oil remaining in the bowl, fold over the sides, and crimp them to create a packet.

Put the packets on a baking sheet and bake until the beets are tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Carefully open the packets and let the beets cool, still in the packets, until they can be handled. Cut off the stem of each beet (reserve any juices in the foil packets) and wipe off the skin with a paper towel... Cut the beets into 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Put each type of beet in a separate bowl and pour any cooking liquid from the packet over them. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Copyright © 2009 by Thomas Keller. Reprinted from Ad Hoc at Home with permission from Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Company.

Also by Thomas Keller:

Bouchon The French Laundry Cookbook Bouchon Bakery The Complete Keller The Essential Thomas Keller

Under Pressure

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