Of course I love to cook! So, of course I love cookbooks, even though I have some I've never used! Still, some of my favorites are French cooking -- and in several cases, not because of the recipes!
Of course there are Julia's books. They should stand alone. The recipes are so well researched that it's difficult to fail (though they may take awhile!). I stand by her Boeuf Bourguignon recipe and that of her French Onion Soup, the latter of which is a winter staple in our household.
Another I cook from often is Clothtilde Dusoulier's "French Market Cookbook."
This one is such a hit! Wonderful fruit and veggie dishes and fabulous desserts. I've tried this one as a moulton cake, chocolate mousse and even made little mini tarts with it. Easy and no-fail.
Of course, some books deliver more than food and I love those, too. I adored Rachel Khoo's "Little Paris Kitchen" TV show. So when I saw "Little French Kitchen" on the sale rack at the book store, I had to have it. (If you aren't familiar with her, check out this article on how she turned her Paris living room into a French restaurant!)
In addition to being a Cordon Bleu trained cook, she is also a delightful artist and one reason why I love this book is because of the recipes and background information.
Each region of France gets its due, with photos and illustrations to help tell its culinary story. You learn loads from this one (and one day, I'll be making something, too!)
Do you recognize this dining room?
It's one of my favorite rooms in all the world, far more than those in grand palaces. It's Monet's dining room at Giverny. And this is his kitchen.
These fabulous photos and well written biographical sections are just one reason why I love "Monet's Table," a yard sale find!
Recipes from Monet's own collection and others of the day have been modified for today's kitchens. I had good luck with their madeleine recipe (although I now have another favorite -- I think the problems I had with this one were my own off-kilter oven temp and timing).
Even if you never cook a single thing with it, the photos and text alone make this one worth having, especially if you are a Monet fan and have warm memories of Giverny.
By now you've figured out I love recipe books with more than recipes because you just can't try everything. But a good text makes it worthwhile, even if it never sees the kitchen. Like this one!
Anne Willan has a resume as long as your spatula handle. For 32 years she founded and taught at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris and Burgundy. Her "La France Gastronomique" does much as Rachel Khoo's "Little French Kitchen" does -- provide delicious sounding recipes with beautiful photos and a good look at the various regions of France.
One may never pull off a meringue that looks like this...
...or a salad presented so beautifully.
But with a good French cookbook you can have a lot of fun in the kitchen (and maybe learn something about France too!) Or, as Julia would say...
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