Cookbook Review: A Kitchen in France a Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse

Friday, November 14, 2014

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080418559X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=080418559X&linkCode=as2&tag=beysweandsav-20&linkId=KIPC6IDBLXJ46ANK">A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse</a><img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=beysweandsav-20&l=as2&o=1&a=080418559X" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

I first discovered Mimi's blog, Manger, about a year ago when I was searching for a cherry clafoutis recipe. Ever since, I have been a faithful follower and couldn't be more excited when she announced that her book, A Kitchen in France, was coming soon. If you're a follower of the blog, you'll see her seasonal, unfussy approach to French home cooking reflected in this book.

At first glance, I was afraid most of the recipes were a little more involved since I had limited experience with French cooking. Having made some dishes from her blog before, I decided to peruse the book a few times before marking recipes that I was ready to take on. So far, I have made these dishes:

crepes with salted butter caramel (simple but delicious, you don't need a crepe pan)
fava bean soup (I'll skip the mint next time)
roast chicken with creme fraiche (amazing, I found that rubbing salt and pepper on the chicken first before rubbing the creme fraiche gave me better result, pair it with roasted potato for a complete meal)
pan-seared chicken breast with spring onions (I wasn't too excited about this one, kind of bland compared to her other chicken dishes)
tomato tart (if you're short on time, use store-bought crust. The crust got a little soggy so make sure to add extra flour at the bottom to absorb liquid from tomato)
mustard roasted poussins (I used chicken thigh. It's becoming one of my favorite chicken recipes.)
butternut gratin (a new recipe for butternut squash, will definitely make this again for Thanksgiving or Christmas)

All of the recipes that I have tried so far are are well written and not too complicated for a home cook like myself.

I would love to try these recipes in the future: coq au vin, duck confit parmentier, aniseseed sweetbreads with glazed turnips, bouillabaisse, pistacho sabayon with strawberries and meringues, seared foie gras with grapes and figs, pork cheek raviolis with cepes, calvados and creme fraiche apple tart (would make a great dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas), garden cake (when berries are in season again), coffee cream puffs, chestnut veloute, salted butter creme caramel, and chestnut ice cream.

Other recipes that seem interesting but probably unrealistic for me to hunt down the ingredients would be black locust flower fritters (wouldn't even know where to get these), calves's liver a la bordelaise (need a good butcher shop), and escargots a la bordelaise.

This is a wonderful collection of well written recipes from Mimi's kitchen. I truly enjoyed her stories of food, people, and life in the French countryside. Her husband's beautiful photography not only augmented her stories but transported me to Medoc. What makes her even more likeable is her embracement of her Chinese heritage and desire to introduce that to her children. The end of the book features a few recipes that she makes annually for Chinese New Year which I will definitely try since I haven't made anything similar except for wonton soup.

My only gripe is thirty percent of the recipes in the book are found on her blog so this book gets 4 stars instead of 5 for the review--something to consider before buying this book. Overall this is a wonderful book for cooks who love French home cooking. This book is inviting, comforting, and full of soul. I was truly inspired to get into the kitchen and start cooking more French dishes.

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