Jacques Pépin, longtime cooking teacher, star of more than a dozen cooking series on PBS, and winner of France’s highest distinction, the Légion d’honneur, is also a grandfather.
Now, at 81, he documents cooking adventures with his granddaughter in his new cookbook, “A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen With Shorey” ($30).
“I wanted to prepare food that is plain but elegant, and more than anything, I wanted it to be fun,” Pepin writes in his introduction. “I have always liked to simplify the steps of cooking to get to the essentials, and I always place more emphasis on taste than on presentation.
“I wanted Shorey to tell me, ‘Papi, this is really good!’ Like most children, she is very honest—if she likes something, she tells you; if she doesn’t, she tells that as well.”
He uses recipes to show her some basic techniques—be it using an egg slicer to slice strawberries, making croutons to use up leftover bread, or cutting hot dogs in a certain way so that they curl for the Curly Dogs with Pickle Relish. (Not only does it then fit on a round bun, but it makes it more fun to eat, too!)
It’s a wonderful book to enlist little helpers in assisting with preparing meals, as the recipes are simple but delicious. There are also some useful shortcuts to make life easier, like buying a pound cake, slicing it horizontally, and adding some jam as you stack it back up. Or buying a rotisserie chicken and making a simple but quite incredible sauce with shallots, scallions, and garlic to drizzle over it as a final touch.
And truth be told, even though Pépin is simplifying some techniques for children, the lessons come in handy for grown-up cooks as well.
The recipes featured here seem foolproof, thanks to Pépin’s years of experience. In addition, some of the recipes are featured online as well, at SurLaTable.com/JacquesPepin
Beyond offering easy, excellent recipes, the book beckons with a lovely invitation to spend quality time with children, making some memories in the kitchen and, of course, at the table.
Check out these recipes from the book: