Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking French
French Food at Home
Published: February 1, 2003
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You'll be cooking French food in no time thanks to Laura Calder's friendly and witty introductions to each of the recipes in her charming cookbook, French Food at Home. Calder lives in Paris where she works as a correspondent for Vogue
Entertaining and Travel, and where she taught herself to cook the same way most of us learned--by feeding herself and her friends. Who among us can't relate to her description of Mushroom Toasts: "It's a starter when other people are around, but if I'm
alone, I just tilt the whole pan into a high, rubbly heap on my plate, dig in, and call it dinner." And how many of us recognize ourselves when she confesses of Burgundy Eggs (a heavenly concoction of eggs poached in red wine served with a hearty sauce
that she adores): "Oh, how I did not want to make these when I first came to France; I thought nothing on earth sounded so vile."
Almost all of Calder's recipes are barely a page long, and that's only because of those frank and funny
introductions. Her recipes for dishes such as Camembert Salmon, Scallops in Velvet, and The Lemon Tart of My Dreams, are simple, approachable, and manageable. The ingredients are easy to find, and she's always suggesting options. Calder's is a sunny and
welcome addition to the list of French cookbooks already out there, and happily, chefs of any skill level will enjoy her company in the kitchen. --Leora Y. Bloom
When most people think of French food, they anticipate
"complicated to make," "hard-to-find ingredients" or "too fancy." In French Food at Home, Laura Calder shows that great French food doesn't have to be any of that. The French cooking of everyday life is lighthearted, accessible, and suited to modern
tastes. It's about creating a meal using easy-to-find local ingredients. And, above all, it's about slowing down and savoring the pleasures of good food, wherever you live.
Whether it's getting weeknight dinners on the table fairly fast (Basil
Beef, Pickle Chops, or Carrot Juice Chicken) or leisurely cooking for dining at a slightly slower pace (Lamb Tagine, Holiday Hen, or Fennel Bass), Laura Calder shares recipes that she's created at home in her own French kitchen. Balance these with just
the right side dishes (Olive Potatoes, Buttery Two Tomatoes, or Endives with Honey and Golden Raisins). And, for a special meal, bookend main dishes with a first course (Orange Asparagus, Toast Soup, or Beet Stacks) and a dessert (Nutty Figs, Fireplace
Camembert, or Coffee Pots).
You'll enjoy reading French Food at Home as much as cooking from it. About her Camembert Salmon, Laura writes, "You're thinking, 'Ugh, she's got to be kidding.' But this is no mental lapse; just because it's strange to
the ear doesn't mean it will be to the tongue." Or, for the Lemon Tart of My Dreams: "There are more recipes for lemon tart out there than you can shake a stick at. Some have candied lemon slices afloat on top like so many shipwrecked unicycles; others,
for reasons I cannot divine, are hell-bent on involving ground almonds ... But all I want in a lemon tart is the plainest possible thing: flat, smooth, and puckering with intense lemon flavor."
From apéritifs to desserts, Laura offers recipes
ranging from easy to those that need just a little extra effort. From dishes that are ready in minutes to those slow and savory, from traditional to contemporary, French Food at Home lets you bring French food to your home.
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