French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating Paperback – Apr 5 2010
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Quill & Quire
Like her Food Network cooking show, French Food at Home, Laura Calder’s second cookbook, French Taste, is, in essence, a primer on basic Gallic cooking aimed at people who are intimidated by the kitchen. Detractors might say this misrepresents French cuisine, since the book contorts itself to entice the reluctant cook, which is anathema to French gastronomy. But a more positive spin is that the book demystifies French cooking, providing a welcome corrective to North America’s misguided culinary culture of empty junk food, microwave meals, and low-fat paranoia. Without question, however, this is a book for people who need justification to take an epicurean approach to food. Those who already have an appreciation of fine butter, cheese, bread, and wine may find Calder’s attitude somewhat patronizing. Additionally, those who already know how to, say, properly boil a beet or blind bake a pastry shell, might find Calder’s instructions irksome – to say nothing of her mini-essays offering pat cooking “philosophies” and advice on how to shop for groceries. Nonetheless, such people would be well advised to persevere in order to take advantage of Calder’s many excellent recipes. Divided into chapters by menu courses, the book gives us a superb lobster, grapefruit, and avocado salad dressed with almond, hazelnut, or walnut oil. Pork roast braised in milk will be unfamiliar to many but is worth the price of admission, as are such treats as potatoes cooked in duck fat, olive oil and red grape cake, and nougat glacé. Virtually every page of the book, in fact, offers the sort of recipe one wishes their local bistro would adopt. Jean-Pierre Challet takes a more focused and less patronizing approach to Gallic cuisine in One-Pot French. French cuisine has a reputation for complexity, but Challet, chef at the Toronto restaurant A Taste of Quebec, shows us how to enjoy all that France has to offer in a surprisingly diverse variety of relatively simple recipes that employ only a single cooking vessel – be that a pot, frying pan, or pastry sheet. His book offers chapters based on menu courses with additional sections covering discrete subjects such as eggs, potatoes, and sandwiches. Less of a lifestyle lecture than Calder’s book, One-Pot French may be better suited to cooks with more experience. For example, a recipe for salade Lyonnaise – dandelion, bacon, and poached egg – omits instructions on how to poach the egg. Presumably, Challet assumes the reader already has this skill – not necessarily a sound assumption to make. Still, there are plenty of recipes here that just about anyone could tackle, meeting Challet’s stated goal to keep things simple. The vast majority are classic rustic “comfort food” dishes such as French onion soup, cheese soufflé, coq au vin, salade Niçoise, croque madame, pommes Anna, lemon tart, and chocolate mousse. Indeed, if Challet falls short anywhere in comparison to Calder, it is in his lack of creative exploration. Photographically, the two books are similar. The images in Challet’s book, by Gareth Morgans, offer an unaffected clarity and richness well suited to the book’s themes. The photos in Calder’s book, by James Ingram, have a similar hominess, though sometimes feel slightly more staged. For sheer browsing appeal, however, Challet is the clear winner, with over twice as many pictures – an advantage he may need on the sales floor to overcome Calder’s TV-celeb status. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
?Laura Calder?s french approach to food is refreshing and smart. . . . She shares her delight and enjoyment of the pleasures of the table with us, making this a book for everybody who loves to eat.?
-- Jennifer Mclagan, author of Fat and Bones ()
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Top Customer Reviews
I have tried several receipes and they have all come out prefect each time, the receipes as clear, concise and very easy to follow. And she uses ingredients that can be easily found. The pastry recipes well they are just delightful.
However do read her tips as they are very practical and informative.
This book is a "must have" for your Kitchen cookbook library... and all foodies out there.
Being in the U.S., her books are hard to find and sometimes quite expensive. Cheers to Amazon.ca for making them available at good prices!
I watch her show, then find the recipe in the book and try it out. Haven't found one I don't like!
I just wish there were more photos, or pictures showing some of the steps. I think if I didn't watch the episode for some recipes I may not get how they are supposed to look.
This is a great book to add to your cook book collection. The simplicity of most of the recipes is wonderful.
Caulder builds on French principles of cooking, and does it with simplicity while keeping all the flavour (and fat!). Of course there is a salade Nicoise recipe in there, among other classics. But there are dishes that are borrowed from Hungary or Morocco and take on a French twist. After all, a lot of these dishes have become part of the modern french repertoire. Most importantly, it is all done with simplicity. Forget Julia Child, who has the time to cook like that these days?
Fortunately, Caulder gives you a repertoire of all the basics needed, which which you can build and tweak. My favourite were the various recipes for different crusts. Even Caulder admits that looking for that 'perfect' recipe for the crust is not helpful; the focus should be on the TYPE of crust needed for the specific dish or bake. I have tried a couple, including the base for tarts, and it is done so well. To me that was an exceptional addition to the cookbook, and made it indispensable. While I find her tone a bit too cheesy for my liking at times, it does not get in the way of excellent instruction. If you visit the Food Network website, you can even see some instructional videos (excerpts from the show) of many dishes listed in the book.
So my final verdict: It is basic French taste, and indeed in good taste. Everyone who loves cooking should have a copy of this cookbook in their library.
Most recent customer reviews
Beautiful book for anyone who knows French cooking. These are every day French food, the type you have when you live there, not fancy pretentious nouvelle cuisine style restaurant... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lulucantfindaname
There are many recipes I tried (delicious) and many other I'm going to try. Great book, the only reason I give 4 stars is the lack of pictures. Read morePublished 24 months ago by sandu
I like cookbooks to give me a sense of place and/or occasion along with relatively easy to produce recipes. This book does so. Read morePublished on June 28 2013 by Mapsman
Many of the recipes from her tv show are included in this cookbook : French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating". Love to try the recipes.Published on March 11 2013 by Amazon Customer
Since discovering Laura Calder, I turn to her recipes first and usually find the perfect idea. My dinner guests have thoroughly enjoyed her meals.Published on Jan. 19 2013 by G. Clay