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French Food at Home Hardcover – February 4, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

You'll be cooking French food in no time thanks to Laura Calder's friendly and witty introductions to each of the recipes in her charming cookbook, French Food at Home. Calder lives in Paris where she works as a correspondent for Vogue Entertaining & Travel, and where she taught herself to cook the same way most of us learned--by feeding herself and her friends. Who among us can't relate to her description of Mushroom Toasts: "It's a starter when other people are around, but if I'm alone, I just tilt the whole pan into a high, rubbly heap on my plate, dig in, and call it dinner." And how many of us recognize ourselves when she confesses of Burgundy Eggs (a heavenly concoction of eggs poached in red wine served with a hearty sauce that she adores): "Oh, how I did not want to make these when I first came to France; I thought nothing on earth sounded so vile."

Almost all of Calder's recipes are barely a page long, and that's only because of those frank and funny introductions. Her recipes for dishes such as Camembert Salmon, Scallops in Velvet, and The Lemon Tart of My Dreams, are simple, approachable, and manageable. The ingredients are easy to find, and she's always suggesting options. Calder's is a sunny and welcome addition to the list of French cookbooks already out there, and happily, chefs of any skill level will enjoy her company in the kitchen. --Leora Y. Bloom

From Publishers Weekly

Proving that French cooking can be liberating and accessible, the Paris-based correspondent for Vogue Entertaining and Travel presents more than 100 recipes she developed. Some are inspired by the work of French restaurateurs, and most are easy to prepare. To accompany aperitifs, Calder suggests Frenchified Popcorn flavored with garlic, herbes de Provence and celery salt, or Hot Mussels, which start out like Moules Mariniere and end up being quickly broiled on the half-shell with a dollop of butter, garlic and parsley. Pea Green Soup is nothing more than cooked frozen peas, cream, salt and pepper. An easy dinner is Bacon Cod, fillets topped with lemon slices, bay leaves and thyme sprigs and wrapped with pieces of bacon before being slipped into the oven. Tarragon Chicken is a simplified version of a dish often gussied up by others. On the other hand, Filo Fish in Red Wine Sauce requires a bit of dexterity, and Holiday Hen glorifies a boned guinea hen (Calder supplies deboning instructions). A few of the recipes are off-the-wall, such as Hay Ham, a smoked ham actually simmered in pot with two large wads of fresh hay. Desserts are relatively easy, such as Flambeed Bananas or Parmesan and Pink Pepper Strawberries, fresh berries wedded to those unusual tastes. Highly engaging headnotes explain each recipe and offer alternative techniques or ingredients.Forecast: This is not a book for those looking to perfect their Gallic expertise, but it will appeal to cooks with a yen to master uncomplicated dishes with a certain French flair. Many of the savory meals are served up with a quite effortless sauce of reduced juices fortified with a dab of butter.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; First Edition, First Printing edition (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060087714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060087715
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #981,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What I wouldn't give to be invited to Laura Calder's house for a meal. If she is delightful in person as she is in print, I would be in for a real treat. French Food At Home has turned me into a fan of French cooking -- at least the way Laura does it. Who ever would have thought that these simple recipes could yield such succulent results?! You know a meal is good when you can't help but smile from its deliciousness in mid bite. But this is French Food At Home throughout. I've made the Pineapple Tuilles, Summer Lentil Salad, Thyme Licks, Leek Tart, Spiced Almonds, Coffee Chop and all were hits. And remember not to skimp on the ingredients as this is key. Buy the freshest that you possibly can, follow Ms. Calder's witty and interesting recipes and enjoy the deliciousness and compliments that are sure to follow. Bon Appetit!
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74 of 85 people found the following review helpful By paolomac on February 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am a big fan of Laura Calder's show of the same name (on the Lifestyle Food channel here in Australia). She is great fun, quirky, a real Francophile, and cooks great French food easily and with charm.

Her scrambled eggs made just with butter and separated eggs is some of the best food I've ever cooked or eaten.

It was because I wanted to have that recipe (and others like it) that I bought this cookbook. I was disappointed to find that the egg recipe she has in the book is not the same as the one on the show.

I was also disappointed that the book is all text. I was expecting to have pictures of the finished dishes at least.

So, I'm afraid the book has left me a little disappointed because the show had set my expectations much higher.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a fantastic book both to read as well for its recipes and cooking advice. Laura Calder obviously enjoys feeding her friends good, simple and delicious food without any fuss - not difficult, ornate French dishes that may keep you in the kitchen all day . Her recipes are at the same time simple to understand, easy to execute and simply delicious. I have used her recipes to put together several dinner parties for my friends, and I didnt spend the day or the evening in the kitchen. Her writing is both warm an funny - an excellent read in itself! Highly recommended!
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Charles Gibbs on June 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What a gift for those of us with neither the time nor the patience for classical French technique! From the "helpful hints" to the wry comments, this book makes French cooking a lot of fun, not just accessible. I have yet to make anything that disappointed even my finicky five-year old. And with the increasing emphasis on fresh, seasonal fare, this book has been a great source of ideas for things to do with (even more) tomatoes, corn, peaches, etc., etc. No matter your skills, or lack thereof, in the kitchen, you will find yourself reaching for this book again and again.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alaskan Fish Slayer on October 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
I bought this book when it first came out in 2004 and have cooked from it extensively. Not only is Ms. Calder's writing fun, personal, and interesting, her recipes are really great. For example, she offers a recipe for Carrot Juice Chicken -- chicken cooked, yes, in carrot juice. In the introductory paragraph to that recipe, she states that she saw the recipe demonstrated by a famous chef and thought, "Yuck!", but she tried it anyway and found it to be wonderful. So did I. She has another recipe later in the book for carrots cooked in carrot juice, which is a great thing to do with all that carrot juice you bought or made, and those carrots go splendidly -- just as she says! -- with the Tuna in Fragrant Water, another very good dish. I've made the Beet Stacks, Pistou Zucchini Ribbons, and Fennel Salad (all in the "first courses" section) many times over, and these are always well received and are fresh, delicious ways to start a meal.

The book is organized in a very helpful way: Aperitifs (including some alcoholic ones), first courses (including salads), "dinner fairly fast" (which I have personally used a lot), "dinner somewhat slower", side dishes, and desserts. We do not eat many desserts in our home, so I have tried few of Calder's dessert recipes; however, the wine-poached pears (a French classic) are wonderful and can be made while you are making the rest of dinner.

I disagree with other reviewers that it is disappointing that there are no photos. I buy cookbooks for the recipes, which is my number one consideration, and secondly for the writing. Calder is a very good writer, which more than makes up for the lack of illustrations and photos. Her instructions are very clearly written, and I like that she makes a fair number of suggestions about food pairings.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Kramer on June 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I don't know why this book has been overlooked, but it is a treasure. Laura's writing style is light and personal; reading along, you come to feel that you're cooking with a good friend in the kitchen. Of the recipes I've tried, all have been stellar. I've modified her lemon tart recipe with a different crust; it is by far the best lemon tart I have ever tasted. The recipes aren't fancy, either, in terms of effort in the kitchen, but the dishes look and taste like you're a food guru. Lemon Spinach, for example, is way simpler than pie, but elevates this vegetable from its usual sorry heap into something bright and mysterious. Savory Carrot Cake, a recipe I've seen nowhere else, is a marvelous, light velvety concoction that makes everything else on the plate taste better. I don't understand it, but there it is. Best of all, she demystifies Tarte Tatin, the French version of apple pie. That alone is worth the price of admission, but to top it off, nearly all of the recipes are healthy and good for you (but you know you're going to eat that walnut tart anyway).

I have shelves full of cookbooks. This is one of four books that I regularly return to.
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