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Glorious French Food: A Fresh Approach to the Classics Hardcover – International Edition, September 23, 2002
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In Glorious French Food, James Peterson argues that once you understand a recipe's "logic and context," and the techniques required to follow it, you actually have something much more valuable than the recipe itself--you have the knowledge to create variations, make simplifications, and cook with spontaneity. Although French cuisine is often accused of being fussy and time-consuming, Peterson's clear instructions demystify many traditionally finicky recipes, and in the process, teach us how to cook anything.
The hundreds of recipes presented here are a pleasure to peruse; kitchen novices can work their way through this hefty volume and come out the other end accomplished cooks. Peterson details necessary equipment, techniques, and ingredients for each recipe so that by the time you start making it, you're fearless. Some of his dishes are remarkably simple, like the beautifully fresh, ready-in-minutes Shaved Fennel Salad, or the richly aromatic French Onion Soup. Others are more complicated, but all teach a lesson: In the Roast Chicken chapter, learn to roast without a thermometer, truss without a needle, make gravy, and then succeed at Roast Chicken Stuffed Under the Skin with Spinach and Ricotta. Learn to make pasta dough, and then re-present leftover Provençal Lamb Stew (if there's any of this heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth tender, orange-scented stew left) as Meat-Filled Ravioli. Perfect for fans of French cuisine, this is also a remarkably handy reference guide for any kitchen. --Leora Y. Bloom
From Library Journal
Cooking teacher Peterson is the author of several other big cookbook/reference works, including Fish & Shellfish and Splendid Soups. The recipes in those books reflected influences from cuisines all over the world, but here Peterson, who worked in France and had his own French restaurant in New York's Greenwich Village, turns to his first culinary love. He has chosen 50 classic recipes as the starting point for his wide-ranging exploration of French food and techniques; each recipe serves both to demonstrate a variety of techniques and as the inspiration for a diverse collection of other recipes related to it in one way or another. Thus, the bouillabaisse chapter, for example, shows how to thicken a sauce with a beurre manie, intensify flavor with herbs, and work with eel and octopus; the spin-off recipes include French-style fish and shellfish chowder and pureed fish soup from Marseille, among others. One of Peterson's aims is to inspire his readers to use his recipes as a starting point for their own creations, so each chapter includes boxes and charts on improvising with different ingredients and flavors. The suggested variations for individual recipes, often mini-essays in themselves, open up dozens of other possibilities. Peterson is both passionate and knowledgeable about his subject, and his new book is an essential purchase. [Good Cook Book Club main selection.]
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
1. You must like French food
2. You must be serious about cooking. Not that the recipes are super-difficult, but they can be somewhat time consuming
3. You should like to learn new details about French cooking. The author talks about the history of the dishes.
Second, if you're part of the target customer group:
1. I like that the author talks about how the dish is cooked in France and then goes on to provide specific substitutes.
2. In addition to just giving recipes you learn about variations to the recipes. Somehow the author manages to write so that you feel that you learn some underlying principles of creating these variation.
3. It goes into great detail. I just cooked a fish soup and there was around ten different recipes, plus variations. However, the book is not an encyclopedia.
Third, some negative things:
1. No weight or metric measures.
With the tightening economy, it pays to eat well at home. Glorious French Food: A Fresh Approach to the Classics updates French recipes while maintaining high taste value. Cooks can now eat well at home instead of paying high prices at French restaurants. Gourmet cooking is simplified but tasty when using recipes from Peterson's cookbook.
I've never owned a cookbook from this author, but after trying his French recipes I will be buying more of his cookbooks in the future.
These recipes are not rocket science; Peterson guides one well through the more unfamiliar techniques as needed. These are generally extremely well written recipes, often with a commentary on a dish's history or general context, and gives many lessons in technique, without "lecturing". Best of all, the few recipes I've tried have been very tasty!
Do read "Read this first", the first 30 pages, before progressing to individual recipes, to get a broad idea of what it to be presented, and needed as backgroundl Curiously, he recommends not to saute or cook at higher heat in a mixture of butter and oil. That's his choice, however I've seen this mixture as the saute norm, rather than an exception, in French kitchens in the USA and in France. He is an American cook, not a Classically trained French master chef.
Some recipe topics include: Various salads, assorted cooked vegetables, pates and terrines, omelettes, souffles, cheese fondues, vichyssoise (not truly French in origin, but actually American), oxtail soup and stews, vegetable and fish soups, mussels, scallops, soles and lobster dishes, with easily 5 dishes within each of the named categories. It goes on with chicken, duck, veal, rabbit, and many beef dishes. Desserts include tarts, mousse, custards, crepes, cakes, and preserves. Almost encyclopedic in coverage, more than enough to keep you busy for years, cooking classic French dishes.
Even if you do not get around to cook one recipe from this book, you will enjoy reading these tantalizing recipes, and with Peterson's writing style, savor the varied selections of French dishes, learning many techniques and "secrets" from a great chef, these techniques carry over into cooking with all sorts of ingredients available at your local grocery store!