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Patricia Wells at Home in Provence: Recipes Inspired By Her Farmhouse In France Hardcover – October 7, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

Tomato clafoutis, herb-cured filet of beef Carpaccio, garlic family soup, Catalan tuna daube: these and 171 other recipes pour off the pages of this sumptuous coffee-table cookbook by the author of Bistro Cooking and Simply French. Wells concentrates on coaxing the utmost flavor out of simple, fresh food, and her French recipes are not all swimming in cream, oils, and fats: the filet, for example, profits not from a heavy sauce but from being wrapped for two days in tarragon, parsley, basil, thyme, and salt. In a couple of places Wells even commits the heresy, for a French-style chef, of switching a red wine used to simmer meat to a white wine.

From Publishers Weekly

Patricia Wells. Scribner, $40 (352p) ISBN 0-684-81569-9 Relaxed and unfailingly enticing, this superb collection of 175 recipes will make readers feel as comfortable in their kitchens as its accomplished author is at Chanteduc, her 18th-century farmhouse in northern Provence. Wells (Bistro Cooking; Simply French) is not the first to underscore the appeal of simple, fresh food, but she coaxes new tiers of flavor from many of the dishes here by her creative arrangements of basic ingredients. Instead of the standard cherry clafoutis, for example, she offers Tomato Clafoutis as appetizer or Chanteduc Clafoutis, made with mixed fruits, for dessert. Herb-Cured Filet of Beef Carpaccio, in which the filet, wrapped for two days in tarragon, parsley, basil, thyme and salt, attains a savory goodness with surprising ease. The True Salad Fan's Salad, composed of finely chopped tops of very young root vegetables (carrot, radish, beet, celery, etc.) with vinaigrette, and Garlic Family Soup (with leeks, onions, shallots and a head of garlic) fairly vibrate with an abundance of flavor. Catalan Tuna Daube marries anchovies, capers, onion, lemon zest, tomatoes and cubes of tuna steak in a memorable union. La Broufade is another outstanding daube, but with beef simmered in white wine instead of the usual red. Wells is sensible in her use of oils and fats, calling, for example, for whole milk and cream in judicious amounts. The diner's delight flows from the wisely prepared ingredients; the cook gets the added pleasure of reading Wells's warm, intelligent prose?and serving up excellence. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (October 7, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684815699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684815695
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
This cookbook is full of country food. Most of the flavors come from herbs and olive oil and the recipes call for very fresh ingredients, so they are fun right from the beginning. If you live near a farmer's market, these recipes will do justice to the produce there.
The recipes are laid out well, with measurements given in both metric and imperial notation, and there are plenty of substitutions listed for the more obscure ingredients. Be warned, though. . . this is not a beginner's cookbook. Each recipe uses a lot of ingredients and assumes a) that you know what all the ingredients are (lamb's lettuce? orange flower water? sheep cheese?) and b) that you know to prepare each ingredient to the point where it joins the rest of the recipe (grating zest, stemming thyme, cutting basil into chiffonade). The recipes also benefit from close reading and planning beforehand. For this reason, even though the style is "country food," I mostly end up using this book for somewhat fancier dinners.
Once you've started, though, the resulting food is truly superb. No one has ever complained when fed a dish from this book. The Tomato Clafoutis is a summer standard at my place. I served the Winemaker's Grape Cake at a party today, and it was gone in fifteen minutes. There is also a nice section at the back for sauces, relishes, homemade liquors and pantry items called for in the main body of the book. These recipes are simple and keep for a while, so if you are in a place where you can't nip out to the local French-Arab market for preserved lemons, you can put your own up for when you need them.
A word to the wise, though. Spring for a hardbound edition. Although the paperback is lovely, the binding is terrible. The spine glue is weak, and your pages will start falling out in clumps, starting with the two glossy photo sections. It started to fall apart the moment I opened the book, and it just can't hack the heavy kitchen use that cookbooks tend to get.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
We spent 1 week in Provence this year, and have become so attached to it! Having coming back to California I've realized that with the strong climatic connections, we can adapt our life a bit and relive our experiences. This cookbook is wonderful - I now know why Patricia cooks for friends all of the time - I have made so many of her recipes we can hardly eat it all! I have visited our own farmers market and have found such pleasure re-enacting our visits to the markets in Provence. Especially easy for the working wife/mother are the fish wrapped in pancetta, and the Pasta with Roquefort/lemon zest/rosemary. I slow-roasted big red onions this weekend, and am preserving lemons, and planning on doing the salt-cured olives, plus trying the brioche recipe, and on and on and on!!! Thank you Patiricia for this book!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on August 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In luscious pictures (by Robert Freson), recipes and anecdotes, "Patricia Wells At Home In Provence" contributes enthusiastically to America's love affair with the place. Seasonal freshness is paramount and Wells prefers her meats and fish whole and unboned. Organized by course, Recipes include tips for storage, techniques, accompaniments and wines.

Many recipes are simple - a "caviar" made with black olives and butter, Goat Cheese Gratin ("pizza without the crust"), raw Grated Beet Salad, Quick Chicken Lemon Soup, Potatoes Roasted in Sea Salt, Lemon-Thyme Lamb Chops.

Others require a bit more time - Beef and White Wine Daube From Arles with Anchovies and Capers, Chanteduc Rabbit with Garlic and Preserved Lemons, Sea Bass in Parchment with Warm Pistou.

One of the nicest aspects of Wells style is her penchant for describing techniques and the reasoning behind them - from the action of citrus in a seviche to filleting a fish to blanching olives or cutting up a rabbit.

A delightful treat for sensuous cooks.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I saw that Patricia Wells was having a new book published in Spring, I began, after several months of procrastinating, to review a series of her books, especially since the new book seems to overlap the book I am about to review in this MS.
Wells is high in the pantheon of distaff culinary journalist / teachers, on a par with Ann Willen and somewhat less well known than the great Julia Child and Elizabeth David. This book on `home cooking' in the Provence region of France falls, it seems, at the end of a series headed by the book `Simply French' which expounds on the cuisine of Joel Robuchon. This volume covers the high-end `haute cuisine' end of the spectrum. A recent book, `The Paris Cookbook' covers the less Olympian subject of cooking by Paris bistros, restaurants, and purveyors. This is closer to Child's classic subject, `la cuisine Bourgeoisie'. The subject of this review reflects cooking done by Wells herself in Provence, based on the influence of local sources and her own invention. It is a combination of Curnonsky's `la cuisine Regionale', and `la cuisine Improvisee'.
Since many, if not most of the insights into cooking in this book can be traced to the earlier book on Robuchon, it was harder to identify the value of this book in its own right. But, I think I can safely say that this volume stands on it's own two feet by combining the simplicity of home cooking with the healthy ingredients of the Mediterranean ingredients and the cachet of Provence, being an intersection of some of the best of both France and Italy.
My strongest visceral reaction to these recipes is the wealth of things to do with common, inexpensive ingredients such as potatoes, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. My next delight was the variety of bread recipes.
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