A few weeks ago, a close friend contacted me to see if I’d be interested in a copy of Eric Ripert’s new book, Avec Eric.  The immediate answer was “absolutely” – I was already in the queue at my library waiting to borrow a copy of the book so I could check it out.  I was thrilled when my friend’s contact at the publishing company graciously sent me not one, but four copies of the book, and I am so excited to be giving away three of them today to say thank you to all of you for your support and for inspiring me to continue working hard in my kitchen!      

For those who don’t know, the author, Eric Ripert, is the chef and co-owner of the celebrated restaurant, Le Bernardin in New York.  You may also have seen him appearing as a guest judge on Top Chef, or on his PBS show, Avec Eric, on which the new book is based.  One of the biggest reasons I was interested in the book was because it’s more than just a cookbook.  Each chapter is a glimpse into a different travel adventure with Ripert; he explores a region, learning about its people, food and traditions and then provides a collection of recipes which were inspired by his visit to that region.  Two of my favorite chapters in the book were the first, describing a visit to Chianti, Italy which included hunting wild boar, and one detailing his connection to and experiences in the Cayman Islands (Shane and I have been twice and it’s a stunning destination).  Gorgeous photos document the trips throughout, so this book would be equally at home on your coffee table, or among your other cookbooks.


As for the recipes themselves, I worried a bit that they might be complicated – either in length or technique – but there’s quite a nice mix, something for every level of cook.  Though seafood recipes are definitely one of the focuses of the book, recipes for other proteins are included as well appetizers, soups, salads, cocktails, and a few desserts.  If you’re curious, several of the recipes are featured on the show’s website, which can be found here.


I wanted to make at least one recipe to share today in conjunction with the giveaway, and I’d flagged several as I read through the book.  When people pose the hypothetical question “If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you pick?”, I can never make up my mind, but caramelized onions are definitely on the short list so it’s probably not surprising that I kept coming back to this simple tart.  Its ingredient list is short, but enticing: buttery, flaky puff pastry acts as the base for sweet caramelized onions, which are topped with my favorite cheese, nutty Gruyere.  The only change I made was to substitute the thyme in the recipe with rosemary, as it was all I had on hand.  The tart was simple enough to whip up amidst the holiday chaos and was every bit as delicious as I’d imagined it would be.  It was definitely best slightly warm from the oven, but I gladly snacked on pieces at room temperature as well.  I’m really looking forward to having time to try additional recipes from the book now that the holidays are over!

How To Enter

To enter to win a copy of Eric Ripert’s Avec Eric, just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite travel destination, or the destination you’d most like to visit next.  Maybe it’s a beach vacation, a ski destination, or one of the many bustling cities around the world…I can’t wait to hear!

To receive bonus entries:

1.  Follow @twilhelmsen on Twitter.  Come back and let me know you are following by leaving an additional comment.

2.  Subscribe to Tracey’s Culinary Adventures via RSS or Google Friend Connect (using the widget at the bottom of the right sidebar).  Come back and let me know you’ve subscribed by leaving an additional comment.

Comments on this giveaway will close on Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm EST.  Three winners will be chosen using random.org and emailed.  The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Good luck!

**Updated: Comments are now closed.  Winners will be announced tomorrow!**

Disclaimer:  The copies of Avec Eric were provided to me at no cost by the publisher, but this is not a sponsored post and the opinions expressed are my own.

Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Tart
adapted slightly from Avec Eric, by Eric Ripert

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, sliced thinly
2 sprigs of thyme
1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface.  Roll lightly until the sheet is an 11×11-inch square.  Use a small plate or other round template to cut two 6-inch circles from the sheet   of puff pastry.  Repeat with the second sheet so you have four 6-inch circles in total.  Place the circles on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, thyme, and garlic to the pan, stirring to coat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften and release some moisture, about 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are deeply browned, about 30 more minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the baking sheets from the refrigerator.  Distribute the caramelized onions evenly among the four puff pastry rounds, leaving about 1/2-inch border around the edges.  Top the onions with the grated Gruyere.  Bake for 13-17 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.

Cut the tarts into wedges and serve warm.

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