As the publishers justifiably boast, what we have here is the distilled wisdom of America's laureate cook. Having mastered the arts of cooking and cooking instruction, Child literally packs the pages of this 800-recipe, personably photo-illustrated volume with assured, authoritative, useful, unabashed, and often entertaining tips, explanations, observations, and opinions. According to her introduction, the longtime practitioner of ten-page recipes and classic cream sauces has geared this latest work to today's fast pace and health consciousness. But rest assured, the concessions have not been revolutionary. Quiches, veloute and bechamel sauces, Coquille St. Jacques with heavy cream and butter, and choucroute garnie with pork chops and three kinds of sausage remain in her repertoire--while many shortcuts are on the order of kneading French bread dough in a food processor or butter-flying fowl and meat cuts for faster cooking. Nor does she skimp on the precise instructions that have always been her hallmark. Here, several columns are devoted to the ""perfect hard-boiled egg""--a product she achieves by a process of boiling, coddling, chilling, quick reboiling, and immediate re-chilling. Then the egg is stuffed. The first cookbook ever to be chosen as a Book-of-the-Month Club Selection, this could well be Child's most widely appealing work.