It’s quite amazing to think that the very first food blog I ever read, Chocolate & Zucchini still around today, because that was back in something like 2004 (she’s been writing C&Z since 2003)! I’ve read every post Clotilde’s ever written and own all her books (Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, The French Market Cookbook and Edible French: Tasty Expressions and Cultural Bites). She’s one of my favourite voices in the food world (I was thrilled to have her blurb my own upcoming cookbook!) so when I heard she was coming out with another cookbook, I couldn’t wait. Clotilde’s recipes are always well-written, easy to follow and she makes modern French food so accessible for everyone. This new book was something a little different, though.
From the publisher:
Tasting Paris features new and classic French recipes and cooking techniques that will demystify the art of French cooking and transport your dinner guests to Paris. Whether you have experienced the charm of Paris many times or dream of planning your first trip, here you will find the food that makes this city so beloved. Featuring classic recipes like Roast Chicken with Herbed Butter and Croutons, and Profiteroles, as well as newer dishes that reflect the way Parisians eat today, such as Ratatouille Pita Sandwich with Chopped Eggs and Tahini Sauce and Spiralized Zucchini Salad with Peach and Green Almonds. With 100 recipes, 125 evocative photographs, and native Parisian Clotilde Dusoulier’s expertise, Tasting Paris transports you to picnicking along the Seine, shopping the robust open-air markets, and finding the best street food—bringing the flavors and allure of this favorite culinary destination to your very own kitchen.
As someone who loves to travel to Paris and someone who loves to cook and eat French food, this is kind of like my dream book – a travelogue (with loads of suggestions of places to eat and shop in Paris) with recipes, so you can recreate the Paris experience chez vous. In Tasting Paris, Clotilde gives a nod to Paris’ vibrant food scene today – one which is “more exciting, more diverse, more open-minded than it ever has been.” The recipes are inspired by Clotilde’s favourite restaurants, bakeries, cafés, restaurants and food stores in Paris and the headnotes read like a travel guide. Interspersed with the recipes, you’ll find features on some iconic Parisian institutions (Berthillon for ice cream, Cluizel for chocolate, Vérot for charcuterie, the neighbourhood markets, Poilâne for bread) as well as information about ingredients (offal, natural wines), classic dishes (croissants, baguettes), entertaining tips (how to make a cheese board, how to host a perfect Paris picnic) or important cultural information (the difference between a bistro, brasserie, restaurant and a café, or tips on ordering your coffee!).
The book is organised according to mealtimes, so: Morning, Noon, Afternoon, Early Evening – yeeeeeah, l’apéro for the win! – Evening and Late Night which means that you might not find recipes in the places you are expecting them (because a salad can be a lunch or dinner dish, right?) but I didn’t find this to be much of an issue because I read the book like a novel, from cover to cover, marking recipes of interest as I went (so, like most of them!). The recipes really do speak to the Paris food scene these days as well as honouring classic dishes – so you’ll find your onion soup and profiteroles but you’ll also find dishes with Asian, Middle Eastern, North African and Eastern European influences, reflecting the way people eat in Paris these days. It’s a beautiful book that will be just as at home on your coffee table (the photography by Nicole Franzel is stunning) as it will on your kitchen counter, splattered and well-used.
My boys’ cooking club made the Caramelized Plum Tart (in tartlet form) this week and it was a huge hit – fancy-looking French pastries in around an hour? Who doesn’t like the sound of that? As I was flipping through the book for the first time, I spotted the recipe for Frisée aux Lardons et aux Oeufs (Frisee salad with Bacon and Egg) – a classic French bistro dish (and one I order at every opportunity!) and I’m thrilled to have permission to share this recipe with you today. I could honestly eat this every single day and not be bored. It’s like the perfect salad.
FRISÉE AUX LARDONS ET AUX OEUFS FRISÉE WITH BACON & EGG
When you stop for lunch at a typical Paris café, you are handed a tall laminated menu listing your options, including salades-repas, or meal-size salads. Before ordering one, I cast sideways glances at other peoples’ plates, peek through to the kitchen on my way to the bathroom, and try to assess just how fresh everything is. This determines whether I choose a salad, opt for more of a sure thing such as a Croque-Madame, or in the extreme, flee the scene.
When my detective work has green-lighted the salads, I love a good frisée aux lardons, a classic combo of wispy, curly lettuce strands that have a slight bitterness to them, like dandelion greens or escarole, tempered by the salty chew of bacon strips, the soothing velvet of eggs, and the toasted crunch of croutons. In the classic version, the eggs are poached, so the runny yolk will further dress the greens—if you’d like to do that, follow the poaching directions in Poached Eggs with Bread Crumbs and Onion Pickle. An easier alternative is to make steamed hard-boiled eggs, undercooking them slightly so the white is set but the yolk is creamy.
5 slices (about 5 ounces/150 g) thick-cut bacon, cut into short, thin strips to make lardons
8 cups (160 g) frisée lettuce (also called chicory or curly endive), dandelion greens, or chopped escarole
¼ cup Bistro Vinaigrette
4 Steamed Hard-Boiled Eggs shelled and halved
½ recipe Quick Croutons
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
In a dry skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Scoop into a bowl. (Keep the rendered fat for another use.)
In a large salad bowl, dress the frisée with the vinaigrette.
Divide the frisée among salad plates, forming nests. Top with the halved eggs and sprinkle with the bacon strips, croutons, and chives.
NOTE: French cooks typically use bacon in the form of lardons, short and thin strips of pork belly, which they purchase presliced and ready to cook. To make your own, get thick-cut bacon and slice it across the grain into short matchsticks.
This book is for you if you:
have travelled to Paris;
wish to travel to Paris;
have an interest in French food;
have an interest in the Paris food scene now;
are interested in cooking modern French food but thought it was too complicated;
love beautiful food (and travel) photography or
are already a fan of Clotilde’s work and must add this to your collection!
This book will have you booking your ticket to Paris immediately (or at least doing some serious daydreaming!). And if you can’t get to Paris anytime soon, hey, you can cook your way through this book and recreate the Paris food scene chez vous!
US/ Canada giveaway – I’ve got a copy of Tasting Paris to give away to one lucky US/ Canadian reader! Details here.
Disclosure: I was provided with an advance copy of “Tasting Paris” for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.
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MY BOOK! In the French kitchen with kids releases July 31, 2018! Click here for pre-order details!