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4.3 out of 5 stars
French Food at Home
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Showing 1-10 of 18 reviews (4 star)show all reviews
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I really loved this book for the most part - it is well written and her recipes are not complicated. She makes french food seem less intimidating. I have made the Salmon Camembert (delicious), Wine Sausages (easy and rich), Beet Stacks (impressive - a burst of different, complex flavors and very gorgeous to look at); as well as the Potato Gratin and The Lemon Tart Of My Dreams. The last two recipes have some minor problems - both were rather runny - especially the tart. The tart had the best flavor of any lemon tart I have ever had, but I was disappointed with the texture. It might either need to be cooked a little longer than the directions, it may need a thickener of some sort - or it may simply need to rest overnight in the refrigerator. I am not sure which is the best way to correct this. I will try it again and try to perfect this thing. The taste alone is worth the effort!
Other than those minor problems, everything in this book is doable and I will certainly be trying more!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is an excellent book written by a chef who left a successful career in communications to train and work in France. Her TV show is an international success, but this book did not do well because it was introduced when all things named French were unpopular in this country, and it had no pictures. The recipes are excellent, however. The book gives one the feeling of enjoying an aperitif at the home kitchen island while a talented cook prepares dinner and shares her tips and her personality with her guests. I bought this as a present for my wife and she read it cover to cover the first day. A fine read and a fine resource.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Have watched this program on TV and found the book to be asentertaining as the program Bright lively commentary and easily made recipes demystify everyday French cooking
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Four starts because her style is casual and informative, all at the same time. Easy to follow and the recipes are easy to create. I'm having fun with this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I think her book is very good but some pictures would have been nice. She brings so much excitement to her cooking. Great cook book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
A very negative selling point.. if I had known there were no photos of the wonderful recipes enclosed I would not have purchased this book...

Everyone knows we eat with our eyes first... No photos, I do not recommend this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I discovered Laura Calder from her show French Food at Home on the Cooking Channel. Her narrative style of cooking and her easy-going demeanor are what drew me to her recipes. This book definitely will not disappoint if you have seen her show before and just picture her cooking the recipes. But you will have to do a lot of imagining because there are no pictures, of anything. I think that was my biggest disappointment with this book. I like looking at pictures to get a sense of what the end result of recipes will be and just to ogle at the food while reading a cookbook in bed.

I have to admit I don't think I've made any of the recipes in the book yet, but they all seem pretty simple. And note, simple does not mean quick. It means easy to prepare, with few ingredients and not a lot of fuss. Most of the recipes are good for slow, weekend cooking; they are definitely not "30-minute meals." Also, most of the ingredients should be recognizable to the home cook, nothing really jumped out at me that seemed ultra exotic or new, so I assume most people will be able to find all of the ingredients in their local grocery store.

**I plan on updating this review once I have tried some of the recipes in my own kitchen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I followed Laura Calder's show on TV and was sorry to see it go. She has moved on but this book captures most of the recipes from that show so it's worth it to have them.
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on May 17, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I was, however, disappointed that there were no pictures. None at all, not even one. Awwww. Really, a big part of what I like about cookbooks is seeing what the finished product should look like. Especially with foreign cuisine and techniques, that would be useful, because I'm not French and haven't been to France and am not trained in French food. I gave it four stars because I did like her narration and descriptions, which helped explain the dishes, and although I've only tried a few recipes, I found inspiration and ideas in the book. Maybe pictures are too pedestrian, too Southern Living or something, but since this was new ideas and new techniques, I would have liked them. Still happy with the book and glad I bought it, though.
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17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
`French Food at Home' by Laura Calder is a very puzzling book. The biggest question which occurs to me at the get go is why write a 229 page book on a subject which has been covered in so much greater detail in the1270 pages of `Mastering the Art of French Cooking', the great cookbook classic by Julia Child, et. al. If that was not enough, you have the legions of volumes by Ms. Child's disciples such as Patricia Wells, Susan Hermann Loomis, Ina Garten, Amanda Hesser, and a dozen lesser lights who have touched on this subject. And, that doesn't even touch the professional chef's contributions to the genre with such prominent names such Thomas Keller (`Bouchon') and Tony Bourdain (`Le Halle Cookbook'). Last but not least are the books by professional teachers such as James Peterson, Jacques Pepin, Anne Willan, Richard Olney, and Madeline Kammen. So why add a new book to this very long list.

My puzzlement was doubled when I noticed that many of the recipes in this book are chestnuts which appear in virtually all general books on French recipes, not to mention the tomes put out by `Betty Crocker', `Better Homes and Gardens', and Martha Stewart. Exactly how many recipes do you need for Tapenade, Crudites, Gougeres, Tuiles, Hot Mussels (moules mariniere), Hollandaise, Endive Salad, Ratatouille, Tarte Tatin, and on and on and on!

Then I started to read Ms. Calder's headnotes and noticed that Miss Laura has a sense of humor about her writing. I can't give her complete credit for this, as a lightness and humor comparable to her famous high spirits on her TV shows also distinguish the great Julia's writing. But aside from Julia Child and, among writers of French cookbooks, Tony Bourdain, there may be just a little too much seriousness about cooking.

I also discovered a few recipes that did have a strong novelty about them, as with `duck on a string'. In some of the classics, I also noticed a fairly high level of ingenuity in giving special twists to classics, such as the tapenade rolled into a spiral with pastry.

The author is also pleasantly realistic about the fact that cooking some dishes simply does take time. To this end, she provides main courses in two different chapters, one entitled `Dinner Fairly Fast' and the other entitled `Dinner Slightly Slower'. Like the better `fast cooking' apostles, Ms. Calder's fast dishes are classics which are easy to prepare without introducing any artificial shortcuts. These include lots of fish and egg dishes. The slower dishes are braises roasts, gratins, and tarts, among other things. One of the most interesting recipes in this section is entitled `Housewife Chicken' where a 3 pound bird can be cooked on top of the stove, en casserole, with veggies thrown in for good measure.

There are a number of better than average sidebars on techniques such as how to debone a chicken. Unfortunately, there are no pictures, so you are probably much better off going to Monsieur Pepin or Herr Peterson for some illustrated guidance.

One page Ms. Calder takes from Patricia Wells' book is that many of her recipes are cribbed directly from major French chefs. The most common contributor is Michael Bras whose three star recipes are turned into something easy for the average amateur.

I am really happy I found and read this book, but the extent to which it duplicates material in many other books makes it difficult to know if the book is really worth the cost. For someone who owns no books on French recipes, and who just wants to see what all the excitement is about, I strongly recommend the book. It is entertaining and it has many of the recipes which made French cookery famous. For someone who owns and has assimilated one or more major good books on French cooking, you may want to save your money for a more complete book such as Madeleine Kammen's `The Making of a Cook' or a book with more different recipes, such as Patricia Wells' books on the cooking of Provence.

This book gives a pretty fresh look to a very well worn path!
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