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 & 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
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
Proving that French cooking can be liberating and accessible, the Paris-based correspondent for Vogue Entertaining and Travel presents more than 100 recipes she developed. Some are inspired by the work of French restaurateurs, and most are easy to prepare. To accompany aperitifs, Calder suggests Frenchified Popcorn flavored with garlic, herbes de Provence and celery salt, or Hot Mussels, which start out like Moules Mariniere and end up being quickly broiled on the half-shell with a dollop of butter, garlic and parsley. Pea Green Soup is nothing more than cooked frozen peas, cream, salt and pepper. An easy dinner is Bacon Cod, fillets topped with lemon slices, bay leaves and thyme sprigs and wrapped with pieces of bacon before being slipped into the oven. Tarragon Chicken is a simplified version of a dish often gussied up by others. On the other hand, Filo Fish in Red Wine Sauce requires a bit of dexterity, and Holiday Hen glorifies a boned guinea hen (Calder supplies deboning instructions). A few of the recipes are off-the-wall, such as Hay Ham, a smoked ham actually simmered in pot with two large wads of fresh hay. Desserts are relatively easy, such as Flambeed Bananas or Parmesan and Pink Pepper Strawberries, fresh berries wedded to those unusual tastes. Highly engaging headnotes explain each recipe and offer alternative techniques or ingredients.Forecast: This is not a book for those looking to perfect their Gallic expertise, but it will appeal to cooks with a yen to master uncomplicated dishes with a certain French flair. Many of the savory meals are served up with a quite effortless sauce of reduced juices fortified with a dab of butter.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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About the Author
<P>Laura Calder is a Paris correspondent for Vogue Entertaining
. Her writing has also appeared on Salon.com and in the Los Angeles Times
and the Wine Journal
. She lives in Paris.