Thursday, December 2, 2010

Around my French Table

No, I haven't gone over to the "dark side." I am still an Italian cook. But once in a while you need a day trip. Although having now read all of the recipes in Dorie Greenspan's sumptuous Around My French Table, I know I will be taking lots of day trips. Maybe a weekend - you know I might just stay for a week.

Last night's dinner. Healthy, easy and filled with simple, French flavor. A beautiful welcoming green broccoli soup, a festive Salad Nicoise and a mustard tart graced the table. As I am surrounded by snowy whites, the deep green of the soup warmed me. It's rich, thick broccoli-zucchini flavor brought me back to a Minnesota enveloped in summer.


The Salad Nicoise with its simple vinaigrette was a taste celebration. I added tomatoes for color and relished in the soft, pliable hard-boiled egg, the sea-tasting tuna, the crunch of the just-yielding string beans. A few salty capers and piquant nicoise olives with with mild potatoes satisfied in a way that only a properly attired salad can.

Even when it's fifteen degrees out, this salad brings solace.




Just the notion of a mustard tart warms my savory soul. The use of a smooth Dijon mustard as well as a grainy one provided zest without sharpness. Mellowing the mustard are the sweet carrots on top of aromatic leeks. The original recipe was given to Dorie by Gerard Jeannin and she describes it as "creamy and piquant, comforting and surprising." And so it is. Dorie also mentions that it is not as well known as it should be. I suspect that's about to change.




I promise you that after you make it once, a second one will soon follow. Find the recipe here.


Around my French Table contains over 300 recipes that are French or French inspired. They've been adapted to meet the needs of busy American cooks. The ingredients are accessible. When she does use a hard-to-find French ingredient, she suggests an American substitute. For many recipes there is a "Bon Idee" (I wish my computer did proper accents). It is one of my favorite parts. In that small column, she suggests other ingredients, alternative ways of making the dish and encourages you to play with the recipes.
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I chose these three recipes quite frankly because I had all the ingredients at hand. The level of difficulty for all three was easy. I expect some will be moderately more difficult although as I read the book, I did not come across any recipe that I felt was out of my grasp.

What is inspiring is the playfulness of Dorie's cooking. Fresh, artfully arranged ingredients that are elevated through nuances of herbs, seasonings and adherence to cooking methods. The broccoli soup is one of three simple soup recipes, Dorie has grouped together. Find the recipe here. (I added a shallot - I don't think Dorie would mind.)
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Each recipe provides suggestions for serving and storing. The book is a storehouse of hints and suggestions. Backgrounds of recipes are included - which always intrigues me. For every recipe is a story and Around My French Table contains a wealth of stories - to peruse, to investigate, to explore and to feast.
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Put this on your holiday wish list. It's been two years since I cooked my way through a book and that drought has now ended. For the time being I am content to live on the border between Italy and France and embrace the best of both worlds.
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I have a list of cookbooks I would like to embrace. Where do you get your cookbooks? Do you belong to a club? Buy from Amazon? Barnes and Noble? Do you haunt used book stores, cooking stores?
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And a touch of sweetness to end - I would like to thank Beth from Of Muses and Meringues for this lovely award. Beth is a writer and a cook and her delicately-named blog is indeed filled with muses and puffs of sweetness and insights. Please visit her and say hello.



41 comments:

Pegasuslegend said...

Do you believe all my cookbooks are from my hometown upstate ny all except for two the mastering the art of french cooking....my very first book at 11 years old was better homes and garden, then went on to collect any and all church cookbooks with local folks recipes in it. Used that as a template to carve out what my recipes developed into after 42 years! OMG I now feel really old! So thats my story. I love french foods, my fav is Coquille st jacque.. scallops, and then of course Bouf Burgundy (not attempting to spell it!) So here you made a very gorgeous soup ready for the holiday, and that platter is perfect with all may favorites in that salad, then a bonus tart to die form, what times the next plan to Minnesota? I'm all packed (stop smiling I'm not kidding!) lol nice job Claudia

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

Oooo, I've been wanting that book! Sure you don't want to offer it as a giveaway??? *wink*

Monet said...

Hi Claudia,
Wow...you made me want to go and buy Dorie's new book. Everything looked delicious, but I was especially drawn to that mustard tart. Amazing. Thank you for sharing. I hope you have a great day!

Kim said...

Yeah Claudia! I knew that you would love Dorie's book. Isn't it beautiful? My copy is never far from me. I remember the mustard tart well. It was truly delicious. Love everything you made. Can't wait to see what else graces your kitchen.

I find Amazon is usually the cheapest route. A lot of times I will look for the used books that are in good to great condition and buy those. I've had good luck with that. I also belong to The Good Cook bookclub online. I think you get 4 cookbooks and one 50% off when you join up. I'm pretty sure you only have to buy one more throughout the year to get the deal. Of course, there are monthly selections, but you can decline them online, which is easy. Have you heard of that club before?

Kristen said...

My favorite places to find cookbooks are second hand stores. Beyond that, I love bookcloseouts.com. You can get all kinds of books for a steal.

I have seen this book all over the internet with the "French cooking with Dorie Fridays" It's nice to see the whole thing reviewed.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Claudia, I'm so glad you like Dorie's book. It's been on my wish list and as luck would have it, I won a copy from one of my favorite blogs. I'm one happy girl.
Sam

Dimah said...

Wow, those all look so good! Awesome job!

Velva said...

You know that I just got this cookbook too! I am loving it. I have only made the cauliflower soup and it was delicious. Your French spread is beautiful. I am feelings o inspired!!!!

Wow, wow, and wow again.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I think I will be taking a look at that cookbook too, given your appetizing food and recommendation. Never heard of a mustard and carrot tart like that one, but it looks delicious. What an enticing meal (and comprehensive) you made for your family.

Spicie Foodie said...

Her cookbook is a masterpiece and I really want it for Christmas. You made me want it even more:) I've received most of my cookbooks from a friend who travels the world and brings me back one from each place he visits, it's the best gifts.

Reeni said...

I just put this book on the top of my Christmas wish list! I can't wait to make the tart! I buy some cookbooks new and shop at Betterworld Books - free shipping for new and used books and a huge selection.

Claudia said...

Thanks for all the advice - I am noting where you find your books. I did belong to Good Cooks but got weary of having to say "no" a lot.

I will check out your suggestions. Merci. and Grazie.

Torviewtoronto said...

congrats on the award
the salad looks colourful and healthy lovely presentation

Chow and Chatter said...

wow love the soup, and the salad he he over to the dark side you make me smile!

theUngourmet said...

I haven't ventured into the world of French cooking too much. This tart is beautiful and the Salad Nicoise is one of my favorites.

Most of the cookbooks in my collection have been given to me. It seems like Amazon has some great prices.

Drick said...

very pleasant to go down a different path every so often, lovely soup and salad and the mustard tart is so inspiring... must taste incredible

myfrenchkitchen said...

For a moment I DID think you changed flags!! So nice to read about this book as I don't know it yet and will sure look out for it...amazon is such a good place to put a wish list!
MErci!
bisous
Ronelle

kitchenarian said...

I just ordered this book and I can't wait for it to arrive. I want to make all the items you have featured. Yummy pictures!

We Are Not Martha said...

Yay! I actually did put this book on my Christmas list and am soo hoping I get it (though I'll just purchase it myself if I don't hehe). I keep hearing AMAZING things about it :)

Sues

Foodessa said...

Claudia, you're certainly churning them out lately. It seems like you've locked yourself in the kitchen to then show off your great accomplishments ;o)LOL.
You've managed to make me very hungry and to crave that mustard tart.
Thanks for sharing all this great food.

Have a great weekend,
Claudia

Claudia said...

Foodessa: Playing catch-up and just about there! Happy.

Bridgett said...

I swear each week that I am going to pick up a copy of this book and I never do. Your dishes have inspired me!

Mary said...

Darkside indeed :-). People are always surprised to hear that I don't buy a lot of cookbooks. I rely on the library and a handful of classics that will go with me to the grave. I hope all is well. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I have this cookbook on my Amazon.com wishlist Claudia! I've seen so may bloggers mking the most wonderful things from it and your creations are way on top of all that I've seen before! Just wonderful!

I'm going to see my grandson to celebrate his second birthday tomorrow -- can't wait!

Trish said...

Yum! I love the fresh and simple ingredients in a Nicoise salad. And the mustard tart looks amazing! I look forward to seeing more your French Friday delights.

Mary said...

Just jumping back in to let you know that a right click on the name of the cookie will take you to the recipe. Take care...Mary

Angie's Recipes said...

I still haven't found one Nicoise salad that I really really love. Maybe this would be the one. And the mustard tart looks incredibly delicious!

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

It's funny because that book is not available in France, and at least, I would like to browse it...So many people talk so much about it....All your dishes look wonderful and great...Well, I've just realized I don't need the book!
Thanks !!!

Claudia said...

Cristina, if I lived in Paris I probably would not need the book! But in MN, this helps me get my French-bistro fix!

OysterCulture said...

Love this cookbook and you did such a great overview. Feeling like its going to be a French kind of night.

Beth said...

I think Dorie brings out the French in all of us! I've been dying to try that mustard tart since I first saw the recipe. It looks wonderful!
And thank you for your kind words and link back to my blog.

girlichef said...

This book is so beautiful! I checked it out from the library when they first got it...definitely one I want to add to my own collection one day. Everything looks mouthwatering! :D

Erica said...

The look sounds fantastic! The salad looks really, really good!

Barbara GF said...

I've read some interesting recipes from that book, Claudia. A trip to France now and then is worth it.
Love your noshing spread there. The mustard tart is new to me but sounds enticing. We are on the same wavelength with the broccoli soup - it sure takes the edge off these colder days.

My Little Space said...

How I wish to try out some of the origin French food someday! And you just had me drooling over that pie. Thanks for sharing such wonderful French cuisines all year long and am glad to have found you. ((hugs)) Hope you're going to have fun for the coming holiday season.
Blessings, Kristy

Island Vittles said...

I don't buy a lot of cookbooks, but Dorie sure does get a lot of great write-ups! The salad nicoise looks delicious! Theresa

5 Star Foodie said...

Great dishes from this cookbook! I especially love the idea of the savory mustard tart, sounds excellent!

Megan said...

Hi Claudia... I have been wearing my beret and tonight I am again making French Chocolate Caramels. I feel I neglected the French cuisine for no other reason that feeling it was over-used. But guess what... the French do it right. Thanks for the tip on this cookbook. It looks great!

Debi Shawcross(Table Talk) said...

I have this book on my holiday wish list. Thanks for the sneak preview~what a lovely dinner!

tasteofbeirut said...

These recipes sound very user-friendly then! There was a time when making french cuisine was a bit more complicated, but now that American supermarkets are overflowing with imported cheeses, puff pastry in the freezer isle and the like, it is a snap! Must take a look at that book, your samples are titillating!

Jeannie said...

I am so drooling over your delicious looking photos which by now must be long gone! Love the look of that mustard tart.