I’m not going to lie to you. I picked this cookbook to review not because of the enticing recipes, the cookery lessons or even the renowned name of the chef. I chose “Scook: The Complete Cookery Course” because it’s pretty.

This is a book I want on display in my kitchen, to leaf through for inspiration … and possibly to intimidate dinner guests. Chef Anne-Sophie Pic approaches cooking as an art, and her book complements that intent. The oversized pages employ clean lines and white space to accentuate striking images and intricate recipes.

Pic is a Michelin-starred artiste who set out to curate a collection that would teach aspiring chefs a thing or two about French food and to make an often complicated cuisine a little more approachable. With “Scook,” she hopes to empower you to try scallop carpaccio and to assuage fears of deflated soufflés, all while building confidence in new techniques and ingredients.

Unfortunately, many of Pic’s recipes do call for cheffy, hard-to-find ingredients and specialty equipment. If you find yourself without a pressure cooker or gas infuser, some of the most interesting recipes will be out of reach.

That said, perhaps because it was surrounded by other ambitious recipes, I didn’t feel at all daunted by something as innocuous as a sous-vide. Growing up on Maine’s coast, I learned to enjoy fresh fish, but unfortunately, not how to cook it.

While my valiant attempts at preparing seafood often end in disappointment, this time I was able to produce a near-perfect, flaky fillet. The recipe was easy to follow and included a step-by-step guide (with illustrations!) to the sous-vide technique.


Not every recipe is quite so explicit, and the chapter designations aren’t at all intuitive (I can’t begin to explain why Boulangère Mussel Risotto is “for children” and Asparagus Vichyssoise is “for everyday”), but the creativity, beauty and kitchen adventures that “Scook” offers makes it a winner for me.



You’ll need a kitchen scale to measure these ingredients. You’ll also need grapeseed oil, not a staple for many people, and two types of salt.

Some technical advice: Temperature is vital when cooking sous-vide. Immerse the bags of fish in the water as soon as it boils, then immediately remove from the heat without letting the water return to a boil.

Important: Fish cooked this way won’t keep, not even in the fridge – eat it straightway.


Serves 4

1 onion, peeled

1 carrot, peeled

1 leek, white part only

1 stalk celery

Knob of butter


8½ ounces green lentils

1¾ pints vegetable stock

4 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1½ fluid ounces olive oil

Fine salt

1 ounce coarse salt


4 (4½ ounce) cod fillets

Pinch of saffron

2½ fluid ounces grapeseed oil

THE LENTILS: Trim the onion, carrot, leek and celery, then cut into a large dice. Cook the vegetables in a saucepan with the butter for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lentils, then add just enough vegetable stock to cover. Leave to simmer for 25 minutes, adding more stock as necessary. Once cooked, drain the lentils if necessary, then season with the sherry vinegar, olive oil and a little salt. Put to one side.

THE COD: Dissolve the coarse salt in 18 fluid ounces of cold water. Immerse the cod fillets in this brine for 15 minutes. Drain the cod, then put each fillet in a freezer bag with a few strands of saffron and a little grapeseed oil. One at a time, gradually lower the bags into a sink full of cold water to force all the air out (take care not to let any water get inside), then seal them. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Immerse the bags in the boiling water, then immediately take the pan off the heat and let the fish cook in the hot water for 3 minutes. Remove the bags from the pan, and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

SERVING: Divide the lentils between the plates, open the sous-vide bags and gently place the cod on top of the lentils. Serve immediately.

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