Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate by Richard Blais, EPUB, 030798527X

July 26, 2017


Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate by Richard Blais

  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter
  • Publication Date: February 26, 2013
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009JU6UPQ
  • ISBN-10: 030798527X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307985279
  • File Format: EPUB





How often did we hear that refrain from our moms while growing up?

But why not play with our food … and then eat it?

I think this is the question that greets Richard Blais when he wakes each morning and that then rides on his shoulder throughout the day, muttering in his ear. It’s the notion that keeps him in his notebooks and in the kitchen.

It was clear to me from my first encounters with Richard and his food that he was a very talented guy with a very different way of looking at food. Like most successful chefs, he definitely marches to his own beat and has his own style. There is a reason Richard considers himself the Willy Wonka of cooking: He has the ability to find something fun and unusual and amusing to riff off of in a bowl of macaroni. Hence, his successful marriage of artistic creativity and scientific curiosity that lets him take “playing with your food” to new heights, as he wields his microplane and reimagines dishes in new, delightfully inventive, flavorful ways.

But, like Wonka, Richard’s ability to find the whimsy in food goes hand in hand with a seriousness of purpose. In his sojourns on Top Chef, he maintained a staunch professionalism and kept his engagement in the competition solely about the food. I saw him push himself, and, as a result, I saw him grow in his craft. Kids learn through play—why can’t chefs, too?

Luckily for the rest of us, Richard didn’t heed his mom, nor does he plan to cease playing with his food any time soon. And now, in Try This at Home, he has managed to cleanly and clearly break down his process so that you can have a good time trying out some of his methods in your own kitchen. This is a cookbook from a serious chef who knows how to make fun of himself and lighten up the whole process. Cooking need not be an overly complicated, overwrought process with eighteen ingredients and fourteen pans. Though you can try using a good iSi siphon and a smoking gun (not that kind of smoking gun). And occasionally some nitrous oxide. Oh, and good ingredients, of course. Plus a spirit of fun.







is making people happy. I often start imagining a dish before I even step into the kitchen. It’s taking a classic preparation—like the linguine and clams I grew up eating at Long Island Italian restaurants—and tweaking it, or remixing it, so it still resembles the original but is a more interesting and flavorful version. I embrace food that is different and unique. That’s who I am as a professional chef and as a home cook. I like to put a dish through the wringer by reimagining it, adjusting textures, temperature, and taste along the way. No matter how refined a dish I may create, no matter what manner of luxurious or unusual ingredient I might work with, at the end of the day, I know that what I do is about pleasing people and satisfying my guests in a special and profound way.

What I love about cooking is re-creating traditional dishes to make them delicious and an experience. I prod my diners for an emotional reaction—a chance to revisit childhood, or a special time and place, or to find whimsy in overwrought dishes that we sometimes eat. When I competed on Top Chef, I made linguine and clams in front of a national audience. But my dish was a plate of linguine fashioned out of thinly shaved sweet potato and paired with conch and oregano. As the judges praised my dish, I said, “I pretty much hate everything I cook.”

I meant that my dishes are never truly “finished,” because as I’m ready to plate one, I start thinking about how I can improve it. I keep a sketchbook with me at all times for recording moments of inspiration or planning events or holiday meals. I sketch composed dishes or elements of a dish, trying to get the first few iterations of it down before I even touch a pan. I love to tinker with my food and come up with ways to make it more delicious.

I didn’t spend my summers braising meat at my grandmother’s farmhouse in Provence. Instead, I was eating SpaghettiO’s, and the only chef I knew then was Chef Boyardee. My first cooking job was at a McDonald’s on Long Island. It was where I wanted to work when I was a teenager: I went there when my Little League team won a game, when my mom didn’t have time to make dinner, and when my dad picked me up for my weekend with him (I was adopted by my stepfather in second grade). I started at the counter, but I didn’t like wearing the name tag and visor, and in my first hour on the job, I had to serve a girl from school I had a crush on. The embarrassment sent me into the kitchen, which turned out to be a far more anonymous—and interesting—place, plus it was where all the cool kids worked. They were older than me and most played football at school, and they took pride in trying to be the fastest at making a batch of twenty-four hamburgers. Growing up in a lower-middle-class family had made me humble. I didn’t have a strong sense of belonging in the world, but I found that in the kitchen.

My station included one warming box for fish fillets and another for chicken nuggets, plus a small deep fryer, a small table for toasting buns, and a few hanging hydraulic guns filled with sauces. We were heating, reheating, and assembling. But it was a great first step in my career: I learned the grace to move quickly in a cramped space, and the ability to both follow orders and give them. (I also learned what to do during an armed robbery, but that’s another story.) I may have won Top Chef All-Stars, but starting my career at McDonald’s also shaped me as a chef.








After a short stint at college ended, I walked a mile between my afternoon gig flipping upscale burgers to my evening job broiling steaks and steaming lobsters. I had dreadlocks, wore way-too-baggy pants, listened to the latest rap remix on my Walkman, and drank Olde English by the forty. I was cooking most days of the week, but it was really just a job. Then I got a job at a Rockville Centre restaurant called Tuscany, which had received a good review in the New York Times. It was the type of place that serves shrimp cocktail in a martini glass, Caesar salad in a bowl made of Asiago cheese, and an ostrich fillet with twenty-nine garnishes. This kind of food was trendy in New York during the mid-to-late 1990s, and Tuscany was the closest to a “city” restaurant that I could find in my branch of suburbia. It was a great training ground: There was a steady and talented kitchen team. The books that the owner kept in his office—White Heat by Marco Pierre White, and cookbooks by Lidia Bastianich, David Burke, and Charlie Trotter, among others—opened up a new world to me.

At Tuscany, I lost the dreadlocks and found my passion and ambition. I then enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America. I learned so much in cooking school; I was a poster boy for great classical kitchen training, a model student. So much so that I was asked to stay on for a prestigious fellowship in the fish kitchen after graduating. From there, I embarked on a rotation of working with some of the best chefs in the world, doing stints in the kitchens of Thomas Keller, Ferran Adrià, and Daniel Boulud.


Eventually I was offered an opportunity to run my own restaurant, called Fishbone, in Atlanta, and I jumped at it. But when I moved to the South in 2000, the food there seemed decidedly un–New York. To me, polenta was better than grits, pimento cheese was just a weird substance sold in plastic tubs, and boiled peanuts were the food of gas stations. The South is known for its incredible time-honored traditions. Yet when I got to Atlanta, it was in the middle of a restaurant revolution: inventive chefs were applying modern twists to many regional dishes. I felt I had the flexibility and space to be übercreative for the first time. I was both fearless (I was dubbed the “Bad Boy of Brunoise” by a local critic) and naive. I could make lasagna out of artichokes and serve it with halibut, and the diners appreciated it.

The city was growing at the same time I was getting more comfortable and confident in my own style. I gained an appreciation for the ingredients and techniques of the South. I can now make a brisket that puts many true Southerners to shame, and at my restaurant Flip Burger Boutique, we feature both a “country-fried” burger topped with pimento cheese and a burger topped with a red wine reduction and blue cheese foam. The South and I have harmonized well: I consider myself lucky to be in a city where there’s plenty of interest in a cooking revolution. What’s true and important is that I am a chef who makes unique food, and as I happen to be based in the South, I draw from my surroundings.

And then, after a few years in Atlanta, TV happened. When I got the call inviting me to appear on Top Chef in 2007, I was hesitant; I thought I was a good candidate for a guest judge, not a contestant. It turned out to be a life-changing experience. The resulting fame is neat, but I’m still most comfortable in a kitchen—that’s where I feel at home and can be most creative and have fun.

Some people think I’m a “molecular chef” because they’ve seen me whip out a tank of liquid nitrogen on TV. I do use science and technology as tools to further my cooking, and I enjoy it. I’ll embrace a unique ingredient or technique in the pursuit of flavor first. I’m obsessed with what the Japanese refer to as umami, which literally means “delicious taste” and is more of a sensation than a flavor; it’s the flavor of savory or what makes your mouth water. It occurs naturally in foods such as tomatoes, seaweed, and shiitake mushrooms. I try to incorporate umami in many of the foods I cook.

But I’m also a classically trained chef—and a husband and father. So I know what it means to balance my desire to push the concept of what I can make noodles out of with my desire to put dinner on the table. At home, I don’t have unlimited resources, professional equipment, pricey and rare ingredients, an army of prep cooks, and all day to prepare. At home, I cook just like everyone else. I like a roasted chicken or a simple grilled steak for dinner, pancakes and eggs for breakfast, and a pimento cheese sandwich for lunch (I have truly become a convert). I’m going to show you how to cook those everyday dishes that I love, plus fun variations of them when you have the time or inclination.

Many of these recipes will be familiar, and the ones that aren’t likely have familiar roots. For example, you can make my cheeseburger, and then if you want to take it a step further, you can make a Swiss cheese foam to go on top of it. You can make your kids the eggs I make for my daughter Riley at breakfast, or you can try cooking them sous vide (how I like them). You can make a classic Reuben sandwich, or you can try it with tongue, which I love. These are all dishes within any good home cook’s reach, so I’m going to urge you to try new things. Throughout the book, I call out opportunities for a more challenging or exciting way to make a dish by using a new technique, an unusual ingredient, or a special piece of equipment. These variations—we’ll call them 2.0s—will help you be more creative in your kitchen.

Some of the dishes here are great versions of traditional dishes and some are what I think of as “culinary remixes.” Enjoy the ride!




DUTCH OVEN/BRAISING POT: A good cast-iron Dutch oven with a lid is my go- to pot for many of my favorite things to cook, and a number of recipes in this book call for one.

ELECTRIC KNIFE: This is an extremely underrated tool. The kind of precision it offers is great for cutting through large blocks of meat, like big old-fashioned roasts, and layered foods like finger sandwiches for hors d’oeuvres. Use for Tuna Prime Rib and Roast Beef Tenderloin.

IMMERSION CIRCULATOR/SOUS VIDE MACHINE: This uses a method of slowly cooking food that is sealed in plastic in water at precisely controlled, steady temperatures. I recommend the Sous Vide Supreme and the immersion-circulators from PolyScience or Julabo. Use for Sous Vide Eggs, Mashed Sous Vide English Peas, Sous Vide Chicken, Lobster Sous Vide, and Sous Vide Steak.

ISI SIPHON: A siphon is essentially an old-fashioned whipped cream canister. I use the iSi brand because I like its sleek efficiency and the fact that it comes in both a professional size and a more user-friendly one for home cooks. If you’re just whipping cream, you can use what you’ve been using for that purpose. But if you want to try whipping up foams and unique sauces, the iSi siphon is a great thing to have around. (A small 1-pint siphon that is perfect for a home cook is available from online retailers—just be sure you get the canister type, not the kind for making carbonated sodas.)

LIQUID NITROGEN: Want to make ice cream in five minutes, with no cranking, no rock salt, and no waiting to eat it? Of course you do. Liquid nitrogen is the answer. You don’t need a chemistry degree, but you do need a little ingenuity to get your hands on a canister. (And some good-quality cryogenic gloves—no joke.) Liquid nitrogen must be stored and transported in a special container called a deur, or it will evaporate very quickly. You can search your local Yellow Pages or look online for a supplier. You can borrow or rent a five-liter deur to transport the liquid nitrogen; five liters, at about $2 a liter, is enough to make a couple of quarts of ice cream.

Liquid nitrogen can be entirely safe to cook with, but you have to use caution. I tell my cooks to respect liquid nitrogen and to treat it like they do hot fryer oil. It is best to wear gloves, closed-toe shoes, and long pants (in case of drips) when dealing with liquid nitrogen. And you should do so in a vented area. Prolonged contact can burn you—just like hot oil would—and the vapors can cause a harmful condition in a closed space. Always make sure that the vapors have burned off any food before consuming it.

MANDOLINE: This is a great tool for slicing, especially very thin, exact, and consistent slices. Use caution when using a mandoline, as the blades are often razor sharp.

MICROPLANE: This invaluable tool is often very sharp, which means you have to be a bit more careful with it than with a regular grater, but it also means that you can use it to easily and finely grate or zest a wide range of ingredients.

MORTAR AND PESTLE: Whether I’m making pesto or just need to crush or grind pepper, I always have a mortar (the bowl) and pestle (the heavy little bat) on hand.

PRESSURE COOKER: A pressure cooker cooks food at a really high temperature by increasing the air pressure surrounding it, greatly reducing the cooking time. A lot of people have a pressure cooker collecting dust at home already. Check your grandma’s cupboard! Use for Chicken Stock, Braised Bacon, Boiled Peanuts, and Bolognese.

SMOKING GUN: One of the most common questions I get is “Where did you get that little electric smoker you used on Top Chef?” And, yes, that’s usually from college students. The mini electric smoker is one of my favorite devices because it’s much easier to use it than to brine and cure salmon. All you do is fill it up with hickory chips and turn it on; the smoke infuses the salmon so that the scent is there, but the fish retains its moist texture. I use The Smoking Gun, a handheld battery-operated electric food smoker made by PolyScience.

SPOON: I pretty much always carry a spoon (a nice antique one) in my back pocket, and I advise you to do the same—at least when you’re in your kitchen. I use it to taste everything I cook, as well as for basting meat or fish or making a quenelle (an oval- or egg-shaped scoop or portion of food, traditionally pureed fish, but also things like ice cream or mashed potatoes).




the careful arrangement of food on plates that we do in restaurants. It bothers me because I feel it gets in the way of flavor. I bet if you rattled off your top three foods, you’d find they aren’t at all about presentation. Bolognese, goulash, a good curry—sure, they’re beautiful in the eye of the beholder, but let’s be honest, they are also kind of messy.

It’s not that I don’t care how my food looks when I serve it, just that I think we need to get away from some of the pretensions of plating. I’m always searching for a way to make the food look unpresented. I tell my cooks to make it look like it fell from the sky, but to bear in mind that this means softly falling from the sky, as if on a parachute made of clouds. Does it look like the wind naturally set it there? Or does it look like someone preciously squirted and swooshed a masterpiece? I’d rather the former.

And in reality, I don’t care if each plate looks like the one before it. Consistency is important when it comes to taste and flavor, but it’s overrated when it comes to plating. As a matter of fact, I think it’s almost romantic that each plate is a little different, like people or (I know this is a bit cheesy) snowflakes.

When you put delicious food on a plate, think about how it will be eaten. Is the sauce close enough to the protein? Will it be easy to taste all the elements together? Those are the most important aspects of plating your food.


























Beef short ribs 179°F 5 hours

Boneless skinless chicken breast 144°F 45 minutes to 1 hour

Duck confit (leg) 167°F 6 hours

Lamb loin (chop) 138°F 45 minutes

Lobsters 126.5°F 13 to 15 minutes

Pork belly 140°F 48 hours

Pork chops (thick) 138°F 1 hour

Rib-eye strip or steak 136°F 1¼ hours

Root vegetables 194°F 25 minutes



Aioli (Smoked Aioli) | Three Great Mustards: Beer Mustard, Pastrami Mustard, Violet Mustard | Two Great Ketchups: Umami Ketchup, San Marzano Ketchup | Sri-Rancha | Ranch Caviar | Balsamic Vinaigrette | Mustard Vinaigrette | Citrus Herb Vinaigrette | Sauce Maria Rosa | Tomato Sauce | Pork BBQ Sauce | Tartar Sauce | Blue Cheese Dressing (Blue Cheese Foam) | Buttermilk Herb Dressing | Bear-naise with Brown Butter | Bottled Pepper Vinegar | “Everything Bagel” Vinaigrette | Pressure-Cooker Chicken Stock | Pressure-Cooker Braised Bacon | Clarified Butter | Snail Butter (Asian Snail Butter) | Toasted Herb Bread Crumbs | Candied Onions | Candied Spiced Pecans | Hab Spice | Pastrami Spices | Cranberry-Grenadine Jelly | Gentlemen’s Chutney | Pickling: Pickling Brine, Pickled Celery, Pickled Radishes, Pickled Strawberries, Pickled Peaches


Do you want to make your food taste so much better without having to enroll in cooking school? The best advice I can give you is to be assertive. One way to distinguish your food from someone else’s—whether it’s to impress your family, for friends at a dinner party, or to best a fellow contestant on a television cooking show (insert laugh)—is with bold-flavored herbs, spices, and condiments.

The hallmark of my food is aggressive seasoning. “More fresh herbs! More acidity!” is a call my sous-chefs constantly hear from me, because those are my key tools for making up the flavor in my dishes. I concentrate on harnessing strong-flavored ingredients—so bring on the fresh lemon juice, tear up the parsley leaves, splash on the Worcestershire sauce. The most important thing in my pantry at home is my spice rack, which is loaded with spices, mixes, and blends. (Buy bulk spices; they’re cheaper and they stay fresher longer, whether it’s something commonplace like oregano or something exotic like ras el hanout.) The most important thing in my fridge? My condiments, including different kinds of mayonnaise, ketchup, chutney, and vinaigrette.

There isn’t a condiment I don’t like (in other words, I don’t question it when somebody puts ketchup on their scrambled eggs or mayo on their fries). And my favorite, bar none, is tartar sauce. Early in my career, when I was training with French chefs, I would have blanched at the thought of a sauce that didn’t rely on expertly minced, precisely blended ingredients; but as I’ve matured, I’ve come to embrace the pleasure of chunky sauces laden with hand-ripped herbs, chopped hard-boiled egg, and bits of cornichon—my mouth waters writing about it. Ketchup is another favorite, especially a version I make with precious San Marzano tomatoes, which come from a village near Pompeii at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.

When my family and I sit down for dinner, there is always a collection of condiment jars set out on the table. Both of my daughters enjoy a good drizzle of red wine reduction or a chunky salsa verde on their veggies … or mac ’n’ cheese.

So here are some must-have recipes that will help you appreciate and adopt my almost obsessive desire to season (herbs, spices) and complement (condiments) my food.






To me, mayonnaise is a true “mother sauce,” which means you can use it as a base for just about any other type of sauce, even salad dressing and dips. And you don’t need me to tell you that it’s great as is in a sandwich. I have a T-shirt that says “I ♥ mayo,” and I especially like the French garlic mayonnaise called aioli.

1 large egg

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Dash of hot sauce, or to taste (optional)


1. Fill a small saucepan with 3 inches of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, lower the egg into the water and boil for 6 minutes. Remove the egg and put it in a small bowl of cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the egg.

2. Put the egg, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, vinegar, salt, and white pepper into a blender and puree on low speed. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady, slow stream, blending until emulsified and thickened. Add the hot sauce, if using, and blend on high speed for about 1 minute. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.





Barbecue is very popular in Atlanta, and I’ve developed a taste for smoked meat since moving here. One day while eating barbecue, I wondered what would happen if I put a pot of homemade mayonnaise into a cold-smoker. So I tried it, and it infused my mayo with a great hickory-smoked flavor. When I don’t make my own mayonnaise, I like the brand Kewpie. It’s a Japanese product that has a chubby baby licking his lips on the label (which is part of what makes it officially legit in my book).

To make Smoked Aioli, simply add ¾ teaspoon hickory smoke powder (which you’ll find sold with spices and other seasonings at supermarkets or online) to the egg mixture before adding the olive oil.






For some reason, I used to be embarrassed that I liked honey mustard. In retrospect, it’s probably because it’s such a simple, sweet condiment that lots of children love. So, I thought, what is the anti-child’s ingredient? Beer. I make a sweet honey mustard that any chicken finger would love and then ratchet it up by adding beer extract. It rounds out the sweetness and gives it a bit of a hoppy edge. (Beer extract is available at home-brew equipment suppliers and good spice shops; you can also find it online at

1 cup Aioli or good-quality store-bought mayonnaise

½ cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons agave syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon beer extract

Pinch of cayenne pepper


In a small bowl, whisk the aioli, Dijon, agave, cinnamon, beer extract, and cayenne together until well combined. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.







You eat a pastrami sandwich slathered with mustard, so why not add pastrami spices to the mustard and use it to flavor another dish, such as grilled salmon? Sometimes cooking is about connecting the dots: Ask yourself, for example, what else is good with mustard? A turkey sandwich is one answer, and wouldn’t that taste even better with the pastrami spices? That’s all it takes to make new and interesting dishes.

1½ tablespoons coriander seeds

1½ teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

1½ teaspoons black peppercorns

1 teaspoon paprika

1 cup Beer Mustard


1. Put the coriander and mustard seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium heat, swirling the pan, until fragrant. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, add the peppercorns, and grind until fine. Transfer to a small bowl.

2. Add the paprika and mustard and stir until well combined. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.







If honey mustard is for kids, violet mustard is for old ladies. I say this only because a restaurant critic once wrote that one of my flowery mustards smelled like the inside of a grandmother’s purse. I loved my grandmother’s purse … with its cool, snappy clasp.

2 tablespoons candied violets

¼ cup honey

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup Dijon mustard

¼ cup whole-grain mustard

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Mince the violets on a cutting board until very fine, or mash until pulverized using a mortar and pestle.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the honey, vinegar, and Dijon and whole-grain mustards until combined. Add the violets, salt, and pepper and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.







This is like ketchup on steroids—it’s bold and dark, and it has a temper. The use of the word “ketchup” here is liberal. You could call it oyster sauce, syrup, or glaze as well. You can overdose on this. Seriously, too much of the umami ingredients can make your heart rate increase, so a little goes a long way. Also, umami has a tendency to bloom in a dish, so even if the first taste seems like it needs more, wait a few minutes before dousing it with more. Patience, grasshopper.

1 cup tamarind concentrate

¾ cup San Marzano Ketchup

2½ tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 red Thai chiles, finely minced


In a medium bowl, whisk the tamarind, ketchup, fish sauce, sugar, Worcestershire, garlic, and chiles together until well combined. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.







San Marzano tomatoes are from a region near Naples, and their sweet-tart flavor and thin skins make them ideal for canning. This recipe is a mash-up of sorts, almost blasphemy: slow-cooked tomatoes spiked with prepared ketchup. The combination really encapsulates my philosophy in the kitchen: No ingredient is sacred. Good old ketchup is as valuable as a San Marzano tomato. (And each adds something to the other.)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

¼ cup cider vinegar

One 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes in juice, crushed with your hands

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¾ teaspoon chipotle chile powder

½ teaspoon dry mustard

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

⅛ teaspoon ground allspice


1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to deepen in color and caramelize, about 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and continue cooking, stirring often, for another 5 minutes.

2. Add the vinegar, tomatoes, soy sauce, salt, chile powder, mustard, cloves, and allspice and stir well to combine. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a thick, ketchup-like consistency, about 30 minutes.

3. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and pass the ketchup through it, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula or a spoon to push through any large pieces. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

NOTE: If you add some prepared ketchup to the puree (¼ cup), the emulsifiers in the store-bought stuff will make your ketchup a bit closer to what most people find texturally acceptable for something called a “ketchup.”









I love ranch dressing. It’s such an anti-fine-dining condiment. I love the combination of ranch and Sriracha because it cools as it burns. The play of the heat off the herby creaminess of the dressing is amazing. For something really crazy, pour this into an ice cream maker and turn it into a frozen savory condiment; serve it with thick ridged potato chips.

2 cups store-bought ranch salad dressing

Juice of ½ lemon (about 1½ tablespoons)

¼ cup Sriracha hot sauce


Put the ranch dressing into a small bowl, add the lemon juice and Sriracha, and whisk until fully incorporated. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



Ranch Caviar






Ranch caviar is what your redneck cousin might create if he won the lottery: He’d buy expensive caviar and fold in some creamy ranch.

2 cups store-bought ranch salad dressing

¼ cup (2 ounces) American paddle-fish caviar (or other cheap caviar)


Put the ranch dressing into a small bowl and gently fold in the caviar until fully incorporated. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.







Balsamic vinaigrette, it seems so … eighties, but with its natural sweetness and woody, aged flavor, it’s of tremendous value. Here we are spiking up the savoriness with the mustard, garlic, and molasses, which gives it, well, nuance. Serve as a dressing with some hearty bitter greens, or brush it over a steak right off the grill.

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons molasses

1¼ tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced white onion

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon


In a bowl, whisk the balsamic, molasses, garlic, onion, mustard, salt, pepper, oil, and lemon juice until well combined. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Whisk to incorporate before serving.






This herb vinaigrette is a basic and easy way to dress a salad. It’s a classic recipe inspired by a brief stint in Miami. My wife, Jazmin, and I used to frequent a little bistro that served the most amazing mustard vinaigrette. This is my homage.

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh chives

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a small bowl, whisk the sherry and red wine vinegars, sugar, and Dijon and whole-grain mustards together. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking until emulsified and thickened. Whisk in the thyme and chives, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.







A great multipurpose vinaigrette to use for delicate greens or when you want a touch of fresh acidity.

Juice of ½ lemon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon minced fresh basil


In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, Dijon, and sugar together until combined. Whisking constantly, add the oil in a slow, whisking steady-stream, until emulsified and thickened. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the tarragon, parsley, and basil. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.







By this point, you probably know I hold very little sacred when it comes to traditional recipes. This has as its base Thousand Island dressing, which some people call Sauce Marie Rose. My remix replaces the usual lemon juice with lime juice spiked with Cholula hot sauce and Worcestershire. I call it Maria Rosa. Why not?

⅔ cup Aioli or good-quality store-bought mayonnaise

⅓ cup San Marzano Ketchup or store-bought ketchup

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon Cholula hot sauce

3 drops Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a small bowl, whisk the aioli, ketchup, cilantro, lime zest and juice, Cholula, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper together until well combined. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.







I wish I was Italian. I pretend by keeping this classic sauce in the fridge at all times. It’s especially handy for busy weeknights.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, minced

8 garlic cloves, minced

Two 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes in juice

One 4-inch piece Parmesan cheese rind

¼ cup finely diced charcuterie scraps, such as prosciutto or hard salami rinds (optional)

4 teaspoons dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

18 to 20 fresh basil leaves

5 to 6 leaves from an organic or nonsprayed tomato plant (optional)


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mash coarsely with a potato masher, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

2. If the tomatoes are still chunky, mash them again with the potato masher. Add the cheese rind, diced meats, if using, and oregano and cook until very thick, about 30 minutes more. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and stir in the basil and tomato leaves, if using. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

3. Transfer the sauce, including the Parmesan rind, to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Discard the cheese rind before serving.







This challenges the idea of barbecue sauce but carries its essential flavors, acidity, and sweetness with the stock’s meatiness. Add some chipotle and/or pineapple juice, even coffee, to ramp it up. Or use the reduced stock as a sauce for roasted vegetables or to glaze any meat.

8 cups pork stock

¼ cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. In a sauce pot over medium heat, bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer. Cook until reduced by 75 percent or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

2. Mix in the vinegar and sugar. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat.


Tartar Sauce






I first discovered tartar sauce in the backseat of my parents’ 1973 Pinto, eating takeout from an Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips when I was seven years old. It was the first time I realized you could add things to mayo to make it even better. Whaaat!? That is genius. For tartar sauce, it’s pickles, lemons, herbs, and other stuff, but open your fridge and see what you could toss into mayo to make a more creative sauce. Tartar sauce changed my life. I hope my version changes yours.

1 cup Aioli or good-quality store-bought mayonnaise

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

¼ cup (about 7) cornichons, minced

¼ cup capers, rinsed and minced

1 small stalk celery, minced

½ small jalapeño, seeded and finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly torn

2 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves removed and chopped

Grated zest and juice (about 1½ tablespoons) of ½ lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a medium bowl, whisk the aioli and chopped egg until combined. Add the cornichons, capers, celery, jalapeño, parsley, tarragon, and lemon zest and juice and stir well until combined. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.







I don’t think there’s a more masculine flavor than blue cheese. Like an old pair of socks, or a barnyard, it cuts through almost anything. It’s a natural foil to anything overly sweet or sour or meaty. Freezing this recipe in an ice cream machine makes for an adventurous condiment for a nicely charred steak.

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 shallot, very finely minced

2 cups Aioli or good-quality store-bought mayonnaise

¼ cup low-fat buttermilk

¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped

2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese


1. Pour the vinegar over the shallot in a small bowl and let stand for 10 minutes.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the aioli and buttermilk together until smooth. Add the shallot mixture, parsley, thyme, scallion greens, salt, and pepper and whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blue cheese until combined. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.




Foams have become more widely known thanks to cutting-edge chefs. I like them, though not because they are considered sophisticated—I just find them so interesting on the plate. Blue cheese, for instance, is a rather dense ingredient, so turning it into something light as air, which you can do easily within an iSi siphon, is unexpected.

To make blue cheese foam, put 2 cups heavy cream and 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese in a medium saucepan and warm gently over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese is completely melted and the liquid is smooth. Pour the cream into a pitcher or bowl and refrigerate, covered, until cold. Transfer the cold mixture to an iSi siphon and charge with 2 charges. Let the canister sit for 5 minutes, then shake it vigorously before dispensing.






I like ranch dressing, which is basically what this recipe is, so much that I mix it with Sriracha and even caviar, and I’ve been known to freeze it into a savory ice cream or dehydrate it and pulverize it into a powder. What’s funny is that I don’t really care to use it to dress a salad!

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ teaspoon celery seeds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, garlic, basil, tarragon, parsley, celery seeds, salt, and pepper together until well combined. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


From Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais comes his very cool debut cookbook for home cooks looking to up their game with more excitement in the kitchen. This is accessible and fun, and includes the signature recipes, flavor combinations, and cooking techniques that have made him such a popular chef.

A new way to make a dish is always on Richard Blais’s mind. He has a wildly creative approach—whether it’s adding coffee to his butter, which he serves with pancakes; incorporating the flavors of pastrami into mustard; making cannelloni out of squid; microwaving apple sauce for his pork chops; or cooking lamb shanks in root beer. In his debut cookbook, with equal degrees of enthusiasm and humor, he shares 125 delicious recipes that are full of surprise and flavor. Plus there are 25 variations to add more adventure to your cooking—such as making cheese foam for your burger or mashed sous vide peas to serve alongside your entrée. Dive into an exploration of your kitchen for both creativity and enjoyment. Now try this at home!


Customer Review

Excellent book, with overall good recipes and, in other way you might think, not with only liquid nitrogen. It has a great number of dishes, many ones different not only itself but with a whole new way of thinking how to prep food. If you wanna try something different every now and then, like myself, then I can only say: Try This At Home!


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