Upon first glancing at Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, I very nearly put it aside to be reshelved. It was too beautiful. Huge and heavy--laden with photographs--and featuring a cover shot of something that looked as though it took a heck of a lot of time, money and energy to pull off, it didn’t seem like something that would work for me.
But first glances can be deceiving. Almost every recipe involves relatively normal if delicious ingredients. The techniques used are not difficult at all for someone who knows her way around a basic kitchen. These are the sort of recipes which will be made again and again--and be shared with demanding friends. Each is introduced very charmingly, in a way that conveys much about the author’s French experiences.
Interspersed with the recipes are cultural asides and notes on the less usual ingredients filched from France’s long and world-spanning history which may be not well-known to American cooks, such as preserved lemons (Morocco), piquillo peppers (Basque cuisine), and ispahan (rose syrup from the Middle East). This guide to French cuisine from an enthusiastic American loses little in translation. A James Beard Award-winner, Ms. Greenspan has homes in Paris, Connecticut, and New York. Her culinary writing has appeared in Parade magazine and Bon Appetit, and she is a frequent commentator on National Public Radio. Her other books include Pancakes: From Morning to Midnight; Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City’s Best Pastry Shops; and Baking: From My Home to Yours.
Check out her delightful Web site at www.doriegreenspan.com wherein you will find breezy, informative commentary and numerous recipes, including several from this book: Mustard Batons; Gougeres (savory cream puffs); and Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak.