by Dorie Greenspan
Dorie Greenspan, who has been visiting Paris for more than three decades and has been living there part time for the past thirteen years, has created Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours to remind us that French cooking at home is one of life's great pleasures.
"The French are just as busy as we are, and they're masters of supremely easy—and supremely delicious food," writes Dorie.
Around My French Table is not French cooking by the rulebook. This is Dorie's "French kitchen journal"—her own synthesis of the food she's been passionately involved with for all these years—true elbows-on-the-table food that can be made and enjoyed by everyone. Dorie begins with:
Nibbles and hors d'oeuvres, including the recipes that her French friends often beg her for, like Gougères (aka cheese puffs), Cheese-It-Ish Crackers, and Salmon Rillettes. When it comes to entertaining, says Dorie, it's the French, even more than the Americans, who are masters of convenience food. She includes a three-ingredient favorite of Parisians, Mustard Bâtons, which she first hesitated to try because it was so simple.
For starters, Dorie's table boasts an impressive array, from Cheesy Crème Brûlée to the fabulous and inventive Fresh Tuna, Mozzarella, and Basil Pizza, which is part salade Nicioise and part pizza and is made with storebought puff pastry. Then there's the revolutionary takeoff on the Basque tortilla (similar to a frittata), called Potato Chip Tortilla, made with potato chips rather than the traditional potatoes, which Dorie got from a Michelin three-star chef.
For the main event, try Dorie's crispy-skinned Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux (lazy people), the simplest, most delectable ever (with a bonus treat for the cook), or Twenty-Minute Honey-Glazed Duck Breasts, or the Café Salle Pleyel Hamburger, the café's signature bestseller that actually improves on our national dish. Or, for something that takes even less time than a hamburger, make Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce, a creation inspired by a similar entrée Dorie tasted in two fancy restaurants in Paris.
The French don't celebrate Thanksgiving of course, but Dorie's Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good (bread, cheese, cream, garlic, and thyme) will be right at horne on the harvest table and is a boon for vegetarians.
And as you'd expect from the author of Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie includes a stunning collection of desserts, from Vanilla Éclairs to the "top-secret" chocolate mousse that every great Parisian cook knows but won't tell—tweaked from a recipe on the back of a French chocolate bar. Among the other standouts: Salted Butter Break-Ups, a big flaky rectangular cookie that you can put in the center of the table and let guests serve themselves, and Marie-Helene's Apple Cake, the homey specialty of a top editor of French restaurant guides, more apple than cake.
"What's being cooked in French homes today is wonderful partly because it is so unexpected," writes Dorie in the Introduction. "One week you might have a creamy cheese and potato gratin just like the one a cook's great grandmother used to make, and the next, you'll be treated to a simply cooked fish with a ginger-spiked salsa taking the place of the buttery sauce that would once have been standard."
The many dishes photographed by Alan Richardson in Around My French Table compel the reader to get into the kitchen and illuminate Dorie's Parisian life: quiet dinners the French way, a short course on cheese etiquette-even tips on how to complain the French way (and be seen as a connoisseur). Every recipe is accompanied by sidebar ideas on serving, storing, making ahead, and suggestions for substitutions and repurposing leftovers. The dishes—quintessential everyday food—are easy enough to be made by a novice, and all the ingredients are available at your local market.
Called" a culinary guru" by the New York Times, Dorie Greenspan is the author of the James Beard Award-winning Baking: From My Home to Yours, which inspired the creation of the online baking community Tuesdays with Dorie. She has been intimately involved with French food for the last three decades. With Pierre Herme, she wrote Desserts by Pierre Herme, winner of an IACP Cookbook of the Year Award, and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, winner of the Gourmand prize for best cookbook in the English language. Greenspan won both an IACP and a James Beard Award for her Baking with Julia. She is also the author of Paris Sweets and The Café Boulud Cookbook (with Daniel Boulud). Inducted into the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America, she is a contributing editor to Parade magazine, writes regularly for Bon Appétit, and is a frequent guest on NPR's All Things Considered and The Splendid Table. Dorie lives in New York City, Westbrook, Connecticut, and Paris.
This page created December 2010
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