24 January 2012

French Cooking: Cookbook review

I love cooking.

I love eating.

But I digress, le sigh.

I cook alot. And I am always wanting to try new dishes; new cuisines. My husband also loves to cook and is an extremely good cook if I do say so. We have an extensive cookbook collection between us and several are on preparing French cuisine.

But there is only one actually from France...so far.

French Cooking: The Great Traditional Recipes, by Bonechi.

I picked it up at all places, the Arc de Triomphe gift shop on my Paris trip last November. I was looking for a souvenir for my husband. We both love cookbooks that offer bright vivid photos. This one had bright color photos, easy recipes (it seemed) and was paperback--meaning it would travel well back to America with me, and more importantly, travel well that day without being a burden in my pack as I continued my walking tour of Paris.

I purchased the English edition. It is 127 pages.  Recipes are indexed: les entrees, les soupes, les viandes (meat dishes), les poissons (fish) , les lugumes (vegetables/side dishes), and les desserts. Each recipe is labeled three ways: Difficulty (easy, medium difficult), Flavour (mild, medium and strong) and nutritional content (low, medium and high). It also tells which region of France the dish is from.

Recipes are traditional with some bearing traditional ingredients including rabbit, snails, octopus, veal and pig trotters (don't ask) etc. and those are not for the faint of heart. But there are some wonderful more familiar offerings, including: Cheese puffs, savoury cheese tart, onion soup, Normandy potatoes, vegetable soup, ratatouille and crème brûlée

I would consider this a good cookbook for cooks who are new to cooking French cuisine. The photos are helpful and the recipes fairly simple. Additional sidebar tidbits and photos  of the various regions of France are sprinkled throughout.

 It is available from Amazon affiliates here or Barnes and Noble here. For the price (starting as little as .99 on the B & N site), it is a great beginner cookbook for the price for someone wanting to try out French cuisine.

Bon appétit ,

22 January 2012

French Greetings part 2 Practice Song

In our French lesson #1 we learned 14  French greetings, including

How are you?…..Comment ça va?

We are building on that today with a few more and a song  to help you remember them. If you are learning French in your homeschool or teaching your children, this is a perfect practice song!

The French/English vocabulary for this lesson (plus the included culture lesson and activities) will be available under our Lessons page.

Au Revoir,


19 January 2012

Photo Friday...

Photo Credit: KFLC/Stained glass windows at St. Chapelle/Paris

15 January 2012

Cooking with Herbes de Provence

Photo credit: Katie's language Cafe, lavender buckets, Paris

I love cooking all types of food, including French cuisine. When my husband and I married, our cookbook collections married as well, and I was thrilled to find a large FRENCH COOKING hardback in his collection. In 12 years, I have never cooked something from any of our French cookbooks (there are now 6 in our collection) that wasn't delicious!
One of the things I love to use when I am cooking, is the French spice blend called
herbes de Provence. The standard mixture typically contains  a blend of the following herbs: savory, basil, fennel, and thyme.. Some varieties also include: sage, marjoram, chervil  and/or lavender.

You can add herbes de Provence to grilled meats, white fish, soups, and stews. My husbands favorite is a French Cassoulette with duck and sausage and it would not taste the same without this spice blend added. You can also add it to oil that is warming up (be careful not to burn) in order to infuse the flavor into the oil before preparing other foods.  If you are buying a premade blend in the store, be sure to check the label. Just because it is named Herbes de Provence, does not guarantee it actually came from France. Some store blends can come from other areas including  Europe, Africa or China~~ or this one, from CA: 

photo credit: KFLC/Organic, but not from France...
For that reason, if I am unable to find a French one at my local specialty grocer, I like to make my own with the following recipe: (Dried fresh herbs are best, but use organic store bought in a pinch!)

1 tbsp. Lavender
1 tbsp. Savory (if you cant find, substitute 1 tsp sage)
1 tbsp. Rosemary
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp. Oregano
1 tbsp. Basil
1 tbsp. Thyme

I have read that typical French dishes do not include Lavender as an ingredient in Herbes de Provence, with that being more of an Americanized version. I personally like the lavender added. When I can find it fresh, I dry my own and add it. I love the aroma and floral undertone the lavender gives to the mix.  Some people like to go heavier on the fennel seed. As fennel seed is similiar to anise and I am NOT a fan of anything licorice related, my own blend decreases that amount so that it is not overpowering to my overly sensitive licorice detecting pallette. Feel free to play around with the spices and amounts until you have created your own favorite go-to Herbes de Provence blend to use in your French Culinary journey!

Bon appétit!

**This post is linked up to Whatever you want Wednesdays over at Free Pretty Things for You.

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