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The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day Hardcover – October 28, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Note from the Author

Dear Amazon Readers:

Have you ever wondered how today’s French women cook? After all, the French cherish (and expect!) the pleasures of a great meal at the end of each day. And yet, most French women don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen any more than we do. How, then, do they do it?

Well, I’ve written a book about it. In The Bonne Femme Cookbook, I approach French cooking not as a chef or leisure cook, but rather in the spirit of today’s French woman (the bonne femme of my title), who, like you, enjoys sharing fresh, stylish, and life-enhancing food—but would rather spend more time at the table than in the kitchen.

The past two decades, I’ve worked as a food and wine writer, a job that has allowed me to spend major stretches of my summers in France. I’ve set up house in charming apartments from Paris to the Dordogne, from the Côte d’Azur near Italy, to the Côte Vermeille near Spain. Everywhere I’ve stayed, I’ve become immersed in the food of the region. While I’ve dined in restaurants and in French homes—gleaning cooking tips from the bonnes femmes I’ve met—what I loved most was cooking like a bonne femme myself. My days in France would see me heading to the markets, chatting with butchers, greengrocers, and cheesemongers, picking up French cooking magazines, and perusing the menus of the town’s mom-and-pop bistros for inspiration.

Most every evening would find me in my little French kitchen, cooking simple yet gratifying dishes akin to what women all over town were serving to their own friends and families.

Day after day, summer after summer, it occurred to me how quick and easy a good, home-cooked French meal could be. Once home and back on the job, I found that so many of the everyday recipes I’d enjoyed in France translate beautifully to the American table.

My favorites are in this book, and I hope that they will soon become yours. Here’s an overview of what you’ll find:

* Dozens of recipes that showcase a clever take on the sauté/deglaze method of cooking. That is, you sauté the night’s meat, you deglaze the pan with wine. Then, simply add a handful of easy-to-find ingredients to make a true-to-France pan sauce, all in 30 minutes or less.

* New takes on French stews and braises. Believe me, there’s more to the French stewpot than Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin (though I do include both). Enjoy recipes for hearty, warming (yet up-to-date) stews and braises, such as Pomegranate Pot-au-Feu, Tuna Steaks Braised with Tomatoes, Olives and Fennel and other recipes that call on contemporary ingredients for meals that are dashing, yet uncomplicated in that fix-and-forget way.

* More chapters that will help you cook like a French woman. You’ll find appetizers, salads, soups, eggs and cheese, and desserts, as well as great recipes for dishes you might not think of as French, (but that definitely fit into the bonne femme’s repertoire!). These include sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, pastas, and casseroles. (French Shepherd’s Pie, anyone?)

I promise that throughout my 250-plus recipes, you’ll find no hard-to-find ingredients, no difficult techniques—just fresh, simple, and splendid recipes that prove, again and again, that you can cook like a French woman no matter where you live.


--Wini Moranville

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Wini Moranville

Q:How did the idea for The Bonne Femme Cookbook come about?

A: For the past 20 years, I’ve spent major stretches of my summers in France, where my husband and I would rent an apartment so we could live, eat, and cook like a French person. In doing so, I’ve discovered a fresh, everyday-easy side of French cooking that translated quite beautifully to the American table.

And yet, as a contributing writer and editor for numerous cookbooks and food magazines, I noticed that mainstream food editors often shy away from French food as a topic for everyday cooking. Often, French cuisine is perceived as difficult, pricey, and complex.

But French home cooking is none of these things: Most French women have no more time or resources to spend on their cooking than we do. And yet they eat splendidly, night after night. I decided to write a book about how they manage to do so.

Q: What is the bonne femme style of cooking?

A: In French, bonne femme means, "the good wife," but in French cooking, it refers to simple, uncomplicated food served in homes, no matter who does the cooking—husband, wife, friend, or partner.

While cuisine de bonne femme is traditionally hearty and rustic, I’ve provided many recipes that are also light, fresh, stylish and modern—in line with the way contemporary French women cook today. I like to think of my overall approach as "bonne femme moderne."

Q: Why do you think French cooking intimidates so many American home cooks? Is it really as complex and laborious as we think?

A: One reason, I believe, is that most of our first encounters with French food was through French restaurants. Until the last decade or so, most U.S. French restaurants came complete with tuxedoed waiters, crystal chandeliers, desserts flambéed tableside—buzzes and whistles that said, "don’t try this at home."

In recent years, casual corner bistros have helped change that perception, of course, but for many, French food still feels outside of the realm of what we cook everyday.

Q:Is it really do-able to cook and eat like the French, without spending a lot of time in the kitchen or money on obscure ingredients?

A: Yes! Remember—French women often work outside the home, too, so they need quick, stylish recipes, but they also expect to eat well. That’s what this book is about.

The Sauté, Deglaze, and Serve chapter shows how you can get a French meal on the table in less than 30 minutes. You simply sauté the night’s meat, then deglaze the pan with wine or broth and add a few easy-to- find ingredients—grapes or celery root here, sweet potatoes or apples there—for a vivid, true-to-France pan sauce. Voilà: Tuesday night French cooking at its fresh-and-simple best.

When you have a little more time, the Braise, Stew, or Roast chapter offers classic and contemporary on dishes that may take a little more time on the stove or in the oven, but none are difficult.

And I never call on ingredients that are difficult to find. French women don’t chase down expensive ingredients on the Internet, so why should we? If I had an inkling that an ingredient might not be available in all markets, I offered a substitution option.

Q:Is there really such a thing as easy, everyday French cooking?

A: Absolutely. I’ve spent a lot of time dining with and talking to French women and researching French cookbooks and food magazines, and I’m convinced that their everyday food really isn’t any more time-consuming or difficult, nor does it take special techniques or special equipment. In fact, if you cook at all, you probably have the skills and tools you need to cook most of the recipes in my book.

Q: Tell us about The Art of the Apéritif.

A: All over France tonight, friends are gathering in homes for a quick drink and a simple (but stylish) bite or two. It’s a great way to ease out of the busy workday with some refreshment and conversation, without having to cook an entire diner or commit to providing an evening’s worth of entertainment.

Afterwards, everyone may go their separate ways for dinner; or, if everyone’s having too much fun to move on, the host might invite everyone to stay for a casual meal that she puts together quite effortlessly.

I wish we’d do more of this free-form style of entertaining, and I offer an entire chapter of French cocktails and simple nibbles for doing so.


"Best Everyday French Cookbook" -- T. Susan Chang
From Wine Enthusiast magazine:
For those who struggle to find enough time to craft an inspired dinnertime meal without slaving for hours, this simple and delicious approach to French home cooking allows even the busiest people to taste joie de vivre.
From Wine Access magazine:
Truly easy and truly delicious recipes, all inspired by Moranville’s love for all things French. Moranville may be American, but she has lived and travelled extensively in France — and along the way, she’s picked up plenty of great stories and recipes about one of her favourite places.
From The Chicago Tribune:
The Bonne Femme Cookbook delivers a message that good, fresh, vividly flavored French cooking is possible wherever you live. -- from Bill Daley's book review
From Publishers Weekly:
This book is an enjoyable read. Each recipe comes with an inviting introduction and some brief anecdote or tip to get you excited about making the dish your own and living a small piece of la belle France.
From The Des Moines Register:
This new cookbook by Wini Moranville, who reviews restaurants for The Des Moines Register, is getting thumbs-up reviews for breathing affability into classic French recipes that traditionally can seem snobby and stand-offish. At last, here’s a book about French cooking that doesn’t require a culinary arts degree or frequent visits to Paris or Provence for ingredients.
From The Dallas Morning News:
Sure, there are classics -- like gougères, céleri rémoulade and boeuf bourguinon, but Moranville often brings really smart ideas to them. For instance, she solves the sticky problem of tough meat in the boeuf bourguignon by using boneless short ribs. Of course! Why didn't I think of that? And along with a traditional choucroute garni -- a dish that takes hours to prepare -- there's a "choucroute garni Mardi soir" -- a relatively quick, very easy version.
Are we hungry yet? -- from restaurant critic Leslie Brenner
From Shelf Awareness:
[Wini] marries her love of French cuisine with innovation and practicality, appealing to busy home cooks and would-be foodies who can’t spend all day at the stove. While not all the recipes are quick or light, they all bring the flavors of France to the American kitchen–with fewer calories, fewer dirty dishes and a lot less prep time.
From Relish:
Many Americans see French cuisine as something the French were born to master—and we were destined to fail at. But Wini Moranville, wine expert and author of The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food The French Women Cook Every Day, believes that Americans needn’t fear the French kitchen. They just need to learn the bonne femme ("good wife") style.
From St. Paul Pioneer Press:
This book is long on charm and short on complicated recipes. Wini Moranville, restaurant reviewer for the Des Moines Register, dispels the notion that French women come home at night and cook elaborate meals with a pound of butter. Even for the French, it's about fresh, healthy and fast. They use boneless, skinless chicken breasts; make a pan sauce for almost any dish; stock their pantries with olives, capers, lemon and Dijon mustard; and partake in the everyday pleasure of eating cheese. Moranville's good writing and anecdotes (such as ordering an aperitif is the secret password to getting a good meal at a restaurant) are an added bonus. -- from Kathie Jenkins, Pioneer Press restaurant critic
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press; 1st edition (October 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558327495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558327498
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With so many cookbooks to choose from, I was looking for an Everyday French Cookbook.

Two weeks ago, I bought The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Everyday Wini Moranville. I am a passionate homecook. Over the last year, my husband and I have not been eating out as much as we used to and I wanted to make meals for us that felt special, but were not overly difficult to prepare. I always wanted to try cooking French food, but was reluctant because my neighbor has Julia Child's cookbook and it gave me the perception that French cooking was complicated, took too long and was loaded with butter...

I don't feel that way anymore ! I love The Bonne Femme. It is Everyday French ! What I'm really enjoying about the recipes in this book is they are not intimidating. The ingredients are fresh and readily available. You can look through it for nightly inspiration.

The first recipes I tried were based on what I already had in my kitchen: Chicken breasts and Pork roast. In the "Saute, Deglaze and Serve" section I found more than three dozen recipes that I could make in 30 minutes. Since getting The Bonne Femme, I've tried new ingredients, used the Le Creuset I got for Christmas last year, bought different cheeses and a new red wine ! Bonne Femme is definitely my new `leave it on the counter' cookbook !

Here are my favorites so far:

1. Chicken Francese: Chicken breasts dredged in flour, sautéed and finished with a nice and easy sauce of wine, lemon juice, garlic, and little butter.

2. Chicken Calvados: Sauteed chicken breasts and shallots. Since I didn't have apple brandy I used apple cider and white wine, some cream and fresh chives from my neighbor's garden. Yum !
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Last year I purchased "I Know How To Cook" which was billed as the bible of french cooking, with 6 million copies sold. That book sits on the shelf. Recipes are short, uninteresting, poorly presented, and I would rather go read a Mark Bittman cookbook than that "authentic" french cook book.

This book makes up for that mistake. This book also has short, easy to use recipes, but they are presented in a more interesting fashion, seem more intuitively useful, and actually inspire a reader to try them out. I particularly enjoyed making and eating the beef with orange and balsamic -- very easy and very tasty.

When we got this book, we said "I can't wait to make a few of these recipes". Now that we have, we have enjoyed several, all somewhat easy to make, with a book that helps you both want to cook, and to cook.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a huge fan of Julia Child, I always found her recipes to be overwhelming. For example ingredients and kitchen supplies you require to complete a simple meal. That is not to say that her recipes are not delicious but as a working Mom and the dreaded question "What's for dinner?" Cooking has become a chore. What a delight to have a book such as "Bonne Femme" where you can cook a delicious French meal in the simplest form and the meals are delicious.
I decided to make a French dinner for my family which included an salad, entree and dessert. The biggest critics would be my teenagers and if it passed with them I knew it would be a huge hit.

Melty Goat Cheese Salad with Honey and Pine Nuts (pg 38) The author describes in detail not only what type of salad this is but here instructions are simply to follow with out being undated with difficult hard to find ingredients.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Most of us love French food... even though most of the classic recipes spell certain doom to a diet (butter? cream? pile it on!) and so many of them are time consuming. We love Julia Child, but she doesn't fit into our busy lifestyles.

So I'm particularly pleased with The Bonne Femme Cookbook, which emphasizes recipes for everyday cooking in a French style. That doesn't always mean 100% French ingredients (though it's hard to find a mention of cheese here other than Comte, Gruyere, or Emmenthal) but most of these dishes would be welcome menu items at a nearby French bistro. Assuming that you are lucky enough to have a down-home French bistro on your street corner... which alas I do not. Perhaps I should move.

The book is organized with starters (nibbles, salads, soups), entrees, sides, and desserts, several of which are in subsections. You'll find plenty of old favorites, such as French Onion Soup, celeriac and potato puree, and beef bourguignon. Some have shortcuts based on the idea that you're throwing this together on a weeknight. The bouillabaisse recipe doesn't have you make the mayonnaise from scratch, for instance. That doesn't bother me.

Many recipes are modern, though -- definitely French in ingredients and style, but nothing I've seen in other French cookbooks. "Beef stew with orange and balsamic vinegar" was a comfy Saturday-afternoon braise that turned out wonderfully and relatively simply.

I especially liked the entree section called, "Saute, deglaze, and serve." It's a simple premise: You saute the meat in a skillet, then deglaze the pan with wine or broth. As it reduces, you add herbs and defining touches such as veggies or fruit. And -- ta da -- dinner is served.
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