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Anne Willan: From My Chateau Kitchen Hardcover – March 14, 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From My Château Kitchen revolves around three subjects: the author's life in the 17th-century Burgundian château she and her husband own; the work of the farmers, vintners, restaurateurs, and others who live in the area and define its spirit; and Burgundian food, the glorious regional plats that represent a time-honored yet ever-evolving cuisine. Anne Willan, founder and president of La Varenne cooking school (now headquartered at the château), skillfully weaves these strands into a romantic but down-to-earth memoir. With more than 300 color photos and 160 adroitly selected recipes, the book offers both armchair excitement and practical kitchen direction. Those drawn to French regional cooking and the life that anchors it will embrace the book.

In chapters such as "The Adventure Begins," "On Burgundian Tables," and "The Wider Scene," Willan comes, sees, and is conquered--repeatedly. Best of all are her shrewdly drawn human portraits. We meet, among others, the château gardener who picks vegetables only at maximum size, a blacksmith who guards his homemade ratafia in a cathedral cellar, and a father-son pair who operate a traveling cider press. Willan's recipes--all meticulously written--accompany the discussions. Traditional Beef Bourguignon (a definitive formula), Warm Wild Mushroom Mousse, Madame Milbert's Rabbit Terrine, and Apple Gâteau Le Fey are just some of the dishes that illustrate a time, place, or person. Closing with a chapter that presents the château wedding of Willan's daughter (and includes the wedding cake recipe), the book comes full circle; it returns readers to a beginning and reminds them that food, which is the life of the Burgundian land, is without break, beginning or end. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Owner of La Varenne cooking school and author of La Varenne Pratique, Willan chronicles her culinary adventures at Ch?teau du Fey, a 17th-century Burgundy ch?teau that she and her husband bought in 1982. There are many f?tes at which Willan hobnobs among neighboring ch?telains (dubbed the "ch?teau mafia") with privileged lineages, but her memoir is also punctuated by a colorful cast of local characters--such as caretakers Monsieur and Madame Milbert, cheese expert Hugues Parret, bread baker Robert Haumont? and artisan charcutier Georges Clopin. Her regional dishes include Pork Chops with Mustard and Bacon, Venison Stew with Black Mushrooms and Ratafia (a grape juice liqueur) and Snails with Anise en Cro?te, along with fresh takes on such classics as Truffled Brie, White Cheese Ice Cream, and Cabbage and Goat Cheese Quiche. Willan also showcases select signature dishes (e.g., Roasted Scallops with Sesame and Parsley Salad) of local Michelin-starred Burgundian chefs, family, friends and La Varenne students. Willan's prose is vivacious, her erudite pedagogy underscored with tart, droll humor. While she occasionally basks in the grandiose moments afforded an eminent ch?teau owner, she respectfully recognizes the community of local artisans who have contributed to the success of her beloved Le Fey. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; First Edition edition (March 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609602268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609602263
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.9 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #714,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By KA Tieszen on March 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While I was honored to be a student at Le Fey at La Varenne the summer of 99, I was also delighted to see the approval copy of this book on her coffee table. The books reads just as she speaks. Her extensive knowledge gains respect with anyone who has been in any kitchen, and her personable style makes it a delightful journey to France for those who have traveled there, or those who hope to soon. The recipes are very straighforward, and I can affirm how well the recipes are tested before they go out of her kitchen. [For example: The most helpful section of the Cook It Right book is when she tells you what has gone wrong, and how to fix it.] Her thoroughness is so appreciated by those of us who continue to learn throughout our lives. The Chateau Kitchen will be an absolute favorite, on your coffeetable, or kitchen shelf alike.
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By A Customer on February 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great example of why the Internet recipe sites will never replace cookbooks. Nowhere can you find such beautiful pictures, and wonderful recipes as this book. Ms. Willan has written a meticulously researched cookbook that is just as much at home on the coffee table as it is on the kitchen counter.
I must respectfully disagree with a previous reviewers comments. The "Gateau le Feÿ" does work exactly as written. I've created this beautiful dish a couple of times now with no problem. I could see how this might not turn out if your oven temperature is incorrect, so it might be a good idea to test your oven with an oven thermometer prior to starting this dish. As for the point to wait until they do a new printing with corrections, it should be noted that if there were corrections to be made, you'd think that Ms Willan would have done so when she appeared on Martha Stewart the first week of February 2001, and made this dish, just as it is written.
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By A Customer on January 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Served traditional beef bourguignon to 16 people for New Year's Eve dinner last night using the recipe on pages 26-27 of this book.
The recipe is a bit complicated because of all the separations (liquid, meat, vegetables), and you definitely need to plan in advance, but the results were superb. None of our guests had ever had this dish with as much flavor as this version, so it was a big success.
I used top sirloin, marinated in an inexpensive Cotes du Rhone for two days (yes - two days), browned the beef (big job since I just about doubled the recipe) one evening, and then simmered it in the oven at 300 degrees F the next morning. After letting it cool a bit, I put it in the refrigerator for two days (yes - two days), and then reheated it before our guests arrived.
Did I mention the flavor was wonderful? And since I made a ton of it, we'll be able to have it now and again as we take frozen portions out of the freezer.
Be sure to make lots - if a recipe is as time-consuming as this is to make, you'll want to have a lot of it that you can later just warm up if you want to.
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Format: Hardcover
The creamy potatoes with bacon (near the front of the book) is the best potato dish I have ever eaten. I served it at a dinner party recently and the comment was: "awesome". Also, recently I had the twice baked spinach omelet except mine was made with gruyere cheese only, no spinach. It was cooked one day and re-cooked the next. It was fabulous and it is great to know that it can be made ahead. I love Anne Willan!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Exquisite and sumptuous describes both this cookbook and food from it. The layout, accompanying text and color photos are just fabulous, showing the history of Ann and her family moving to the Chateau in the French Burgundy area, and the subsequent game, produce and food products of the area which she utilizes in her cooking, in her cooking school and for these recipes.
Each recipe is given after its introduction into Ann's life, and this is just so unique in the delightful manner that she presents it. Just a sampling of such: Gratin of Potatoes with Bacon and Cream (and Monsieru Milbert's potatoes); Poached Figs with Pistachio Frangipane (and Madame Andrea's discovery of "blindness" in fig trees); Poached Trout in White Wine with Spinach (and her fisherman/carpenter foriend Henri); Goat Cheese Puffs (and their accompanying Chablis from Laroche); Crustades of Red Peppers with Goat Cheese (and The Owl's Loft restaurant); and my favorite=Snails with Anise en Croute (and Chef Claude's hunting them in the woods); Whole Tangerine Souffle (which is how I discovered this wonderful lady, seeing her do this with Martha Stewart).
Will now want to sample some of her other cookbooks which the other reviewers rave about as well.
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Format: Hardcover
After looking through "From My Chateau Kitchen," I decided to make the Pineapple Sputnik. A pineapple is studded with pieces of vanilla beans (I found cutting them in fourths with a scissors worked well and I used about 6) and baked with a citrus syrup (you have to baste it at least four times). The entire house was scented with pineapple and vanilla and the baked pineapple tasted delicious without any need for ice cream, although that would be a good accompaniment.

For the most part this book is a more a pleasure to read than to cook from. Many of the recipes require hard-to-find ingredients like wild mushrooms, celery root, crème fraiche, Epoisses cheese, fresh chestnuts, quail, Soumaintrain, black trumpet mushrooms, truffles and snails. I obviously don't live near any store that carries these items so I'd have to order them all online.

Some of the recipes you might want to try include:

Twice-Baked Spinach Souffles
Fresh Mincemeat Pies
Tangerine Souffle
Caramel Rice Pudding
Sorrel Soup
Apple Tart Tatin
Pumpkin Soup
Cheese Puffs
Venison Stew with Black Mushrooms
Pistachio Cakes with Raspberry filling and Chocolate Buttercream

The recipes are not organized in a normal way, instead they are inserted after delicious descriptions to whet the appetite. All of the pictures are wonderful, especially the picture of cookbooks that date back to the 1500s. The woodlands also look mysterious and inviting, especially with snow on the ground. One thing I found strange is that there are step-by-step instructions with pictures for making croissants but no recipe. For that recipe you might want to try French Women Don't Get Fat.

~The Rebecca Review
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