Guest Post: Sherri Gallentine Takes on Ad Hoc at Home

by Patrick on October 29, 2009

Sherri Gallentine is one of Vroman’s Book Buyers.  You may remember that she and her husband Rich hosted our Bottega Favorita Challenge dinner.  This time, Sherri took on the new cookbook from the notoriously challenging Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc at Home.  Keller’s last cookbook, about cooking sous vide, was too tough for many home cooks, but his new book is supposed to be much more accessible.  Here’s what Sherri found when she tried some of the recipes (All of the photos in this post are by Rich Zanteson):

Last weekend, joined by my parents Jim and Barb, my husband Rich and I embarked on our Ad Hoc at Home dinner with recipes from Thomas Keller’s latest cooking tome.  When I received the galley of Ad Hoc at Home, Rich and I looked through the book, and were excited to try the recipes. Everything sounded delicious, and upon reading the recipes, seemed like something we could pull off.  I called my parents and invited them over for dinner and explained that we were going to try out new recipes. They happily accepted.

We started out our evening with champagne and the olive tapenade.

Chef Keller calls for black olives, but we already had good Mexican green olives, so we substituted.  It was as tasty as it looks in the picture, probably the best tapenade I’ve ever eaten.

We then progressed on to the cream of cauliflower soup with red beet chips.

cauliflower soup

I think this ended up being a life-changing dish for all of us!  The soup was velvety and delicious and the beet chips sweet and crunchy. The sautéed cauliflower florets and torn croutons brought additional flavor and texture.  I think this may have been the group favorite of the meal. Rich’s beautiful picture does this soup justice, looking at it I’m getting hungry for a bowl. I’m still thinking about this soup, and figuring out when we’re going to make it again.


Our main course consisted of the leek bread pudding and the fig-stuffed pork loin.  The pudding was perfect; it puffed up and was golden brown on top.

This is a perfect dish for cold weather, it’s rich and comforting.  Full of all sorts of good stuff like eggs, milk, cream, cheese, and, of course leeks, this is a real winner.  We’re planning a party for next month and this dish is already on the menu.  The pork loin begins by making a yummy fig jam with balsamic vinegar, which is great on your morning toast as well as a wonderful stuffing for the pork loin.  I tied the meat, browned it on the stove and put it in the oven.

meat on the stove

I thought I had over-cooked the roast, but due to the brining (of which Rich and I are big believers) the pork was moist and flavorful; this dish was unlike any other roast I’ve ever had.  It really makes a spectacular presentation when it’s sliced and placed on a platter.


The pudding and the roast are also great leftover; we had part two for dinner two nights later.

We finished the meal with the caramel ice cream.  If you’re a fan of caramel, you’ve got to try this recipe.  I know we will make this one again, it was lovely.

ice cream

Cooking recipes from Ad Hoc at Home was a true pleasure.  The recipes we tried were spot on, the instructions were clear, and the ingredients were easily obtained.  We made several of the dishes ahead of time, including the fig jam, olive tapenade, ice cream, and cauliflower soup, which is important to us when entertaining so that when our guests arrive we can visit with them and not be attached to the stove. Chef Keller has written a valuable book for the home cook to enjoy; I know we will be trying many more recipes from this beautiful cookbook.