If you’re an avid cook or baker and have only Dorie Greenspan’s books in your kitchen library, you’d be more than alright.
The noted cookbook author, baking expert, and James Beard Award-winning writer has several books to her name that are all remarkable in instruction and absolute pleasures to read (and cook from). In her latest offering, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, Greenspan turns her attention to French home cooking. As a some-time Paris resident, she knows what it is exactly that the French like to make and eat at home, as opposed to running to the nearest boulangerie or le marché.
The book’s layout is similar to her other books, especially that of Baking, so if you’re familiar with her previous works, you’ll feel right at home. Greenspan excels in penning headnotes preceding each recipe that educate and motivate. These are frequently accompanied by sidebars and stories highlighted in colored pages – fascinating bon mots about complaining the French way; what a tartine is (no, not a tiny tart but a range of open-faced sandwiches); and how to make the perfect frites. Along the way, there are tips on serving, storing, and appealingly named bonne idées (good ideas), or suggested variations.
A table of contents precedes each chapter for easy referencing. The recipes are truly French or French-inspired with many of the expected stalwarts– Pissaladière, Olive Fougasse, quiches galore, Beef Daube (stew), more than five recipes for roast chicken, and for dessert, Crème Brûlée, and Vanilla Éclairs. Interestingly, there are also recipes that have influenced the French and which have been inculcated into French food culture; thus, instructions for spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup and Chicken B’stilla (bisteeya) from Morocco. In addition, there are recipes that truly stimulate my run-to-the-kitchen-now impulses. The Cheesy Crème Brûlée grabs me. Or the Salads chapter which is especially rich in gems like the Mozzarella, Tomato & Strawberry Salad, Potato Chip Tortilla, and the Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras. Ooh la la!
The book overflows with colored photos of gorgeously styled food. However, the styling is as detailed as the recipes, and therein lies a caveat. While there are some “Fast” recipes to be found in this book, most of them are quite involved; certainly not all-day projects but they do require prior planning and time. Tasty results are guaranteed but don’t expect recipes that you can dish out in an hour. And perhaps that’s the beauty of Greenspan’s books – it’s that they are expansive in scope offering an outstanding collection of recipes. But to fully benefit from such largesse, you must be willing to devote yourself to the commitment required. No sweat for a truly impassioned food lover.
Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours
By Dorie Greenspan
Hardcover: 544 pages
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition
Available at Fully Booked.