Monday, July 08, 2013

The French Market Cookbook

The French Market Cookbook: vegetarian recipes from my Parisian kitchen / Clotilde Dusoulier
New York: Clarkson Potter, c2013.
224 p.

I've been a longtime fan of Clotilde Dusoulier via her food blog Chocolate & Zucchini (I mean, who wouldn't love that?) She's so charming, and unpretentious, and I've always found that she doesn't follow food trends -- she has a sense of originality. Plus she lives in Paris, so it's irresistible to follow her!

Anyhow, when I saw that she had a cookbook out that focuses on vegetarian food, I knew I had to have it. She states that while classic French cuisine focuses nearly exclusively on animal protein, there is more to French cooking than the "classic" approach. Regional French cooking tends to highlight local produce a little bit more, and she is taking inspiration from the traditional foods and flavours of the varied regions in France.

It's full of beautiful photos of Paris and still life images of shiny fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as the actual recipes. The book is organized around the seasons (very French) and contains appetizers, mains, & desserts for each section. There is also an extra section at the end, Essentials -- doughs, vinaigrettes, sauces.

I really liked it. She notes at the beginning that drowning a recipe in cheese may be a tasty way to convert your meals into veg ones but it's not very healthy or creative. So she avoids heavy use of cheese, which makes me happy as I don't really eat it much myself. She does use a lot of eggs though, so if you're vegan you may want to browse this and not buy, unless you're good at creating egg substitutes.

In any case, there are some really fun, original combinations here, and things I never would have thought of trying. Shaved Fennel Salad with Preserved Lemon ... Savoury Zucchini & Apricot Tart... Jerusalem Artichoke & Potato Canapes... just a few things I want to try soon. There are traditional French combinations too; pears & chestnuts, or leeks & tarragon, for example. Everything looks fresh and lovely.

It's a fairly straightforward book, with recipes that take some care and attention. There are no 'instant' meals, rather she focuses on fresh produce and flavourings. It's really nice, and I know that I'll keep this one on the kitchen shelf. If you want a taste of her style, check out her blog -- there is always much to explore there.

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