Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Happy Bastille Day!!!

As most of you know francophilia runs deep in my blood. My love of the French, their language, and their culture-- food included! goes back probably to when my brother was in elementary school taking French and I thought it was super-cool and wanted to learn it for myself some day! Voila! Je parle le francais (avec le plus mauvaise grammaire de tout!).

In honor of Bastille Day I compiled a list of my favorite French cookbooks and some recipe highlights. I hope you are celebrating the day of French independence (from their corrupt monarchy, bien sur!) in a special way. VIVE LA FRANCE!!! VIVE LES MACARONS!!

La Grande Dame de la Cuisine Francaise
Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 and 2
Julia Child
I have yet to cook a full recipe from these legendary volumes, but I use them as my go-to books for any questions when it comes to execution of any French recipe or how to cook certain French ingredients (did someone say magrets de canard? you know how I feel about duck...). Must-haves for any chef and any francophile, cook or not!

Oeufs en Cocotte, page 123-125
Souffles aux Epinards, page 165
Boeuf Bourguinon (bien sur!), page 315

L'Art de la Cuisine Francaise au Californie
Chef Ludo Lefebvre
I wrote about this one when I got it back in May and again have yet to cook from it. If you are a foodie who likes coffee tables books (with or without legs ;) ) this would be a great idea to get a conversation started at your next dinner party. The book is delicately massive. It occupies a large surface area and it is flowing with mouth-watering fusions executed with French precision.

Chef Ludo, who is based in LA, cooks with fresh ideas and his business style is just the same-- having no permanent restaurant Chef Ludo finds himself at home in luncheon restaurants for a few weeks at a time (with sold-out, wait-list controlled reservations taken care of with finesse by his wife Krissy). When he is not rocking a "Ludo Bites" location you might find him out in his truck selling Ludo Fried Chicken, LFC for short. I've never tasted Chef Ludo's food, but it is one of the food destinations I plan on making.

Eggs Sunnyside Up on Toast with Porchini Mushroom Coulis and Truffle Sauce, page 48
Crepes with Hot and Cold Chocolate, page 106
Lobster Poached in Vanilla with Melon, Mango, Papaya, Avocado, and aged Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Vinaigrette, page 207
(oh, and enjoy page 1, yum. Sorry, Krissy!)

Joie de Vivre sans Un RĂ©gime
French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook
Mireille Guiliano
Many of my fellow francophiles probably have at least one of Mireille books or have heard of her. She describes the habits of the French that make them so fit and healthy. This cookbook is filled with well-balanced meals and easy to make dishes that are a celebration of their ingredients. She gives great tips on how to plan light simple meals throughout the day as well as menus for more extravagant feasts to be shared with friends and enjoyed with champagne.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal, page 31
Pumpkin and Apple Soup, page 117
Carefree Chicken, page 150
"A Champagne Medley Dinner," pages 254-258 (my beloved duck is on this menu!)

Mireille Tweets, aussi!:

La Cuisine Francaise a San Francisco
The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook
Mary Risley

Maybe it is a touch of vanity-- I myself am a Tante Marie to my dear Milana-- but this cookbook serves as a more accessible version of what Julia Child set out to do with "Mastering" and I think it is great! Mary Risley is very concise in her recipe choices and teaches something along with each- as all good cookbooks should. Cooking is a constant learning process no matter if you've been cooking for a day or half a century, there is always something new to learn or taste or a technique to perfect for yourself. I highly recommend this book above all else to someone serious about learning how to cook with some French technique.
When I go out to California to savor Chef Ludo's cooking I plan to hop up to San Fran for a few courses with Tante Marie.

Magret of Duck in Cassis Sauce, page 205
How to make Risotto Without a Recipe, page 129
Puff Pastry, page 385

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Pour fini? Les desserts! 
Simple French Desserts
Jill O'Connor

I picked up this book at a used bookstore in my college town and am so so glad I did! It has all the essentials needed for exactly how to turn your home into a patisserie. Back in January I made her Chocolate Souffle. I consider myself to be an experienced chocolate souffle maker, but her directions make it very easy for anyone to master their very own heavenly cake.
I once made the Beignets on poker night with my family which went a bit to waste as we were all still full from my mother's always-delicious dinner!

Fallen Chocolate-Souffle Cake, page 78-80
Honey Madeleines, page 37
Cherry-Frangipane Tart, page 66
Beignets, page 53

I hope you all had a wonderful Bastille Day and that this post inspires you to have a French revolution of your own in the kitchen! VIVE LA FRANCE

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