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'Life In The Kitchen'

If you love cooking shows, then you are probably used to seeing famed French chef Jacques Pépin cooking something up with Julia Child in the kitchen.

Pépin has spent 55 years cooking classic French cuisine and revolutionizing American dining. His memoir, "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen," is a national bestseller, now available in paperback. "The Apprentice" chronicles Pépin rise from teenage chef in France to an American icon.

Chef Pépin visits The Early Show on Wednesday to discuss his book with co-anchor Harry Smith.

Click here to read an excerpt from "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen."

Recipes:

Reuben Sandwich
Yield: 4 Servings

While living in New York City, I became a sucker for sandwiches, which for me represent the American spirit and lifestyle: easy, unstructured, and casual. They are convenient, fast, and mess-free and may well be the most versatile of all foods. Sandwiches can be healthful or decadent, light or heavy, with ingredients to please vegetarians and carnivores. Made with pita, regular bread, tortilla wraps, or baguettes, they can reflect different ethnic traditions. I believe it was James Beard who said not many people understand a good sandwich. I like to think that I still do.

I first tasted this sandwich in a restaurant near 42nd Street a few weeks after I arrived in New York. With a cold beer and a bit of salad, it makes a perfect meal for either lunch or dinner.

You can use commercial Russian or Thousand Island dressing on the sandwich or create your own Russian dressing. I sometimes make the Reuben with pastrami, although corned beef is the traditional choice, and I use rye as well as pumpernickel bread. Be sure to use good Swiss cheese (Emmenthaler or Gruyere). I prefer the sauerkraut available in plastic bags to the canned varieties.

Russian Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons fresh or bottled horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Good dash Tabasco hot pepper sauce

Sandwiches
8 large slices pumpernickel bread (each about 6 by 4 inches in diameter, 1/2 inch thick, and weighing about 1 ounce)
6 ounces Swiss cheese (preferably Emmenthaler or Gruyerre), cut into enough slices to completely cover the bread (about 1 1/2 ounces per sandwich)
1 1/3 cups drained sauerkraut
8 ounces thinly sliced corned beef (not too lean)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons corn or peanut oil

For the Dressing: Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

For each sandwich: Spread 2 pieces of the bread with 1 tablespoon each of the Russian dressing, and arrange enough cheese slices on both pieces of bread to cover them. Measure out about 1/3 cup of the sauerkraut and spread half of it on top of one of the cheese-covered slices. Cover with 2 ounces of the corned beef, then spread the remaining half (1/6 cup) of sauerkraut on top. To finish, top with the other cheese-covered slice of bread.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 3 additional sandwiches.

At serving time, melt the butter with the oil in a nonstick skillet, and sauté the sandwiches, covered, over medium to low heat for about 8 minutes, 4 minutes per side, until the cheese on the sandwiches has melted and corned beef is hot. Serve immediately.

Semi-Dry Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad
Yield: 4 Servings

In the Today's Gourmet series, I wanted to create dishes that were elegant, modern, original, light, and reasonably quick to prepare. TV demanded that the dishes be visually attractive, too. It was fun to dream up new recipes with that focus in mind. This one is a good example.

Partially drying the tomatoes in the oven concentrates their taste, giving them wonderfully deep flavor and great chewiness. The red of the tomatoes, the white of the cheese, and the green of the basil make this dramatically colorful salad especially enticing. Serve with good crunchy bread.

1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes (about 6), cut lengthwise into halves (12 pieces)
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons drained and rinsed capers
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
About 1 cup (loose) basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the tomato halves cut side up on the sheet, and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt on top. Bake for 4 hours.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven (they will still be soft), and put them in a serving bowl. Let them cool, then add the mozzarella, capers, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and lemon rind, and mix to combine.

Drop the basil leaves in to 2 cups of boiling water, and cook for about 10 seconds. Drain, and cool under cold running water. Press the basil between your palms to extrude most of the water, then chop finely. Add the salad, toss well, and serve.

Ramequins Au Fromage
(Swiss Cheese Fondue)
Yield: 4 Servings

This is an interpretation of the famous Swiss cheese fondue (French for "melted") as we made it in the Lyon-Bourg-en-Bresse area. Traditional Swiss fondue is a combination of melted Gruyere and Emmenthaler cheeses, white wine, and nutmeg, boiled together and lightly thickened with cornstarch, then finished with kirschwasser. My version uses a lot of garlic, no thickening agent, and no kirsch. The cheese tends to thicken in the bottom of the pot (an enameled cast-iron pot is best), and the flavored white wine comes to the top. As diners drag their bread cubes gently through the fondue, the liquid on the surface and the thicker mixture underneath combine. Only crusty, country-type French bread should be used. If it falls off your fork into the cheese, custom requires that you buy a round of drinks for everyone at the table.

Fondue is usually made in the kitchen at the last moment, then brought to the dining room and kept hot over a Sterno or gas burner set in the center of the table. My father always warned against drinking cold white wine with the fondue, claming it would cause the stomach to swell, but I have drunk my wine throughout without any ill effects. Fondue is a meal in itself at our house and is usually followed by a salad and fruit for dessert.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups (1/2 bottle) fruity white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc
About 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 packed cups grated Swiss cheese, preferably Emmenthaler or Gruyere (about 12 ounces)
About 36 cubes (each 2 inches square) crusty French-style bread

Melt the butter in a sturdy saucepan (preferably enameled cast iron), and add the garlic. Cook for 10 seconds over high heat, then add the wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil to evaporate the alcohol in the wine. (you may flambé it, if you like, at this point, but one way or the other the alcohol will rise in the form of vapor.)

Add the cheese, and stir gently with a wooden spatula or spoon until it is totally melted and the mixture is just reaching a boil. Do no let it come to a strong boil. Taste for seasoning, trying the fondue on a piece of the bread, and then correct the seasonings, if necessary. Bring the pan to the table, and set over a burner to keep hot.

Instruct guests to use this technique: Impale one piece of bread, soft side first, on a dinner fork, and stir it gently into the mixture until coated with the cheese. With a twist of the wrist, lift the bread from the cheese, and set it on a plate for a few seconds to cool slightly before eating.
When only about 1 cup of the mixture is left in the bottom of the pan, make the "soup" by adding a dozen or so pieces of the bread to the pot and mixing well to coat them with the leftover liquid and cheese. Don't forget to eat the crusty bits of cheese sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Serviche of Scallops
Yield: 6 First-course Servings

I never served any fish or shellfish raw until I came to America, and I certainly didn't do so at Le Pavillon. I discovered gravlax, seviche, and fish carpaccio when I encountered nouvelle cuisine in the early 1970s, and these uncooked fish dishes - along with dozens of variations I've done though the years - have become favorites at our house. There are many ingredients in this recipe, but it is easily put together. The seviche is best prepared about 2 hours ahead of serving (so the ingredients can marinate together) and refrigerated; the scallops will get mushy, however, if the dish is assembled more than 8 hours ahead. Be sure your scallops are scrupulously fresh.

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 1 ounce)
1 pound sea scallops
1 1/2 cups diced (1inch pieces) cucumber, from 1 peeled, seeded cucumber
3/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced (1/2 inch) scallion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
About 1 tablespoon finely chopped serrano or jalapeno pepper (more or less, depending on your tolerance for hot flavors)
1 teaspoon grated key lime rind (or rind from a regular lime)
1/4 cup key lime juice (or juice from a regular lime)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sweet mirin (sweet rice wine), or 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco hot pepper sauce
6 large Boston lettuce leaves

Cover the dried tomatoes with hot water, and let them soak for 10 minutes, or until softened. Meanwhile, cut the scallops into 1/4 inch slices, and put them in a large bowl. When the tomatoes have softened, remove them from the water, cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, and add them to the bowl. Then mix in all the remaining ingredients except the lettuce.

At serving time, arrange the lettuce leaves in martini glasses or on plates, and spoon the seviche into them. Serve.

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