Are you a home cook who would love to discover your inner “Frenchness”? Do you often wonder how the French make entertaining look so effortless? Wish you had a little more of that French “je ne sais quoi” in your life? Well today’s French Friday pick, Dinner Chez Moi, Elizabeth Bard’s latest book, is for you.
For those not familiar with Elizabeth, she’s is an American writer based in France. Her first book, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes was a New York Times and international bestseller and tells the story of her meeting and falling in love with the handsome Gwendal and moving to Paris. Her followup book, Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes, chronicles the birth of their first child and their move to Provence where they open an artisinal ice cream shop (Scaramouche) which opened a Paris outlet in June 2015. Her story is, simply put, charmante (and not without the challenges that all “life in France stories” have in common!) and I’ve read both of these books (which I keep in Kindle version for travel) numerous times.
Bard’s latest, Dinner Chez Moi draws on her 15 years of living, eating and cooking in France and is:
the cookbook that also provides the tips, tricks, ingredients, and recipes you’ll need to try out classic French dishes in your won kitchen and the commonsense advice that will help you eat like the French do – for pleasure and for good health! Rather than being intimidating or technical, Bard’s guide is an intimate tour of her own French kitchen: funny, practical and perfect even for a total novice to French cooking.
In this book, you’ll learn to
1. Make best friends with dark chocolate.
You’ll learn a recipe for the classic French chocolate cake – fondant au chocolat – rich and fudgy made with butter, high quality dark chocolate and a touch (maybe not) of flour. A recipe in every French family repertoire.
2. Get to grips with whole fish (both preparing and eating them!)
3. Appreciate seasonal eating.
4. There is no overestimating the importance of cheese in the French diet.
Do you know, incidentally, why traditional family meals in France like quiches, croque-monsieurs and gratins are dairy-heavy? (This is a question I was asked over and over again by testers for my own book, who were wondering if they could substitute fat-free dairy…) Because kids in France don’t tend to drink milk as a beverage so dairy in other dishes and yoghurt make up the calcium intake in their diets. See, there is logic behind the cheese intake!
5. How to stock a pantry and fridge so you can create a lovely French meal without needing to go shopping.
Elizabeth’s divided her list of “staples” into pantry and fridge staples and also includes some ingredients you need to try when you see them at the market (so, when they are in season) and recommended brands to get you as close to the taste of France as you can get in your own home. There are easy-to-follow recipes as well as tips for entertaining, effortlessly, French-style.
I absolutely loved this book – it reads partly like a memoir, partly like a kitchen manual and partly like a cookbook. Bard’s charming, approachable voice makes living the French way sound very do-able and the book is full of recipes I know I will be trying. A copy of this book will live in our vacation rental property too 🙂
The appeal of the book, even for a non-cook, is the simplicity of the recipes. Take this gorgeous Salade endive, poire, Roquefort avec jambon cru et oeuf pochée (Endive salad with pears, Roquefort, prosciutto and a poached (or soft-boiled) egg), for example. A handful of simple ingredients makes for an elegant plate, non? Whipping this up will make you feel Oh-so-French!
ENDIVE, PEAR, AND ROQUEFORT SALAD WITH CURED HAM AND A POACHED EGG Salade endive, poire, Roquefort avec jambon cru et oeuf pochée
When I’m on my own, I often make meals that are more like arts and crafts projects than actual cooking. I love slicing and stacking, artfully arranging. Bitter endive, creamy blue cheese, and sweet pears are a classic French salad; two slices of cured ham and a silky poached egg on top make this into one of my favorite solo meals.
- 1 Belgian endive, cut lengthwise into eighths
- 1 Bosc pear, cut into eighths
- 3 thin slices of Roquefort blue cheese
- 2 slices of cured ham (such as prosciutto)
- Walnut or olive oil
- Sherry vinegar
- 1 organic or free-range egg
- Black pepper
- Stack the endive and pear on a plate.
- Top with blue cheese (leaving space in the center for the egg).
- Arrange slices of ham around the sides of the plate.
- Drizzle with walnut oil and a very small amount of vinegar.
- Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and put over medium heat.
- Crack your egg into a small bowl.
- When the water begins to simmer, lower the heat and gently slide the egg from the bowl into the water.
- Simmer for 3 minutes.
- Carefully remove the egg with a slotted spoon to drain. Place the egg on top of the salad.
- Add a grind of fresh pepper and enjoy!
Highly recommend this book for Francophiles, both accomplished and novice cooks and anyone who dreams of whisking themselves off to the South of France… (so, that’d be everyone!).
Please note: This post contains product links from Amazon and The Book Depository which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received a copy of “Dinner Chez Moi” for review purposes. I was not further compensated for writing this post and all opinions are my own.