Cover image for French food at home
French food at home
Calder, Laura.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2003]

Physical Description:
229 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX719 .C22 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
TX719 .C22 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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When most people think of French food, they anticipate "complicated to make," "hard-to-find ingredients" or "too fancy." In French Food at Home, Laura Calder shows that great French food doesn't have to be any of that. The French cooking of everyday life is lighthearted, accessible, and suited to modern tastes. It's about creating a meal using easy-to-find local ingredients. And, above all, it's about slowing down and savoring the pleasures of good food, wherever you live.

Whether it's getting weeknight dinners on the table fairly fast (Basil Beef, Pickle Chops, or Carrot Juice Chicken) or leisurely cooking for dining at a slightly slower pace (Lamb Tagine, Holiday Hen, or Fennel Bass), Laura Calder shares recipes that she's created at home in her own French kitchen. Balance these with just the right side dishes (Olive Potatoes, Buttery Two Tomatoes, or Endives with Honey and Golden Raisins). And, for a special meal, bookend main dishes with a first course (Orange Asparagus, Toast Soup, or Beet Stacks) and a dessert (Nutty Figs, Fireplace Camembert, or Coffee Pots).

You'll enjoy reading French Food at Home as much as cooking from it. About her Camembert Salmon, Laura writes, "You're thinking, 'Ugh, she's got to be kidding.' But this is no mental lapse; just because it's strange to the ear doesn't mean it will be to the tongue." Or, for the Lemon Tart of My Dreams: "There are more recipes for lemon tart out there than you can shake a stick at. Some have candied lemon slices afloat on top like so many shipwrecked unicycles; others, for reasons I cannot divine, are hell-bent on involving ground almonds ... But all I want in a lemon tart is the plainest possible thing: flat, smooth, and puckering with intense lemon flavor."

From ap#65533;ritifs to desserts, Laura offers recipes ranging from easy to those that need just a little extra effort. From dishes that are ready in minutes to those slow and savory, from traditional to contemporary, French Food at Home lets you bring French food to your home.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Proving that French cooking can be liberating and accessible, the Paris-based correspondent for Vogue Entertaining and Travel presents more than 100 recipes she developed. Some are inspired by the work of French restaurateurs, and most are easy to prepare. To accompany aperitifs, Calder suggests Frenchified Popcorn flavored with garlic, herbes de Provence and celery salt, or Hot Mussels, which start out like Moules Mariniere and end up being quickly broiled on the half-shell with a dollop of butter, garlic and parsley. Pea Green Soup is nothing more than cooked frozen peas, cream, salt and pepper. An easy dinner is Bacon Cod, fillets topped with lemon slices, bay leaves and thyme sprigs and wrapped with pieces of bacon before being slipped into the oven. Tarragon Chicken is a simplified version of a dish often gussied up by others. On the other hand, Filo Fish in Red Wine Sauce requires a bit of dexterity, and Holiday Hen glorifies a boned guinea hen (Calder supplies deboning instructions). A few of the recipes are off-the-wall, such as Hay Ham, a smoked ham actually simmered in pot with two large wads of fresh hay. Desserts are relatively easy, such as Flambed Bananas or Parmesan and Pink Pepper Strawberries, fresh berries wedded to those unusual tastes. Highly engaging headnotes explain each recipe and offer alternative techniques or ingredients. (Feb.) Forecast: This is not a book for those looking to perfect their Gallic expertise, but it will appeal to cooks with a yen to master uncomplicated dishes with a certain French flair. Many of the savory meals are served up with a quite effortless sauce of reduced juices fortified with a dab of butter. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Calder, the Paris correspondent for Vogue Entertaining and Travel magazine, presents an amusing narrative spliced with more than 100 of her personal recipes to illustrate her premise that French cooking is "a state of mind." Indeed eclectic, her recipe collection includes many simple classics like Endive Salad and Potato Omelets, yet there are also more unusual dishes like Duck on a String, which requires a salted duck breast to be hung in the open air for seven days; and Hay Ham (yes, hay, which Calder says imparts a unique, smoky flavor to the meat). The recipes are written in a casual style, often with less than precise instructions, and they often seem secondary to the author's preceding chatty comments and anecdotes. A better selection is Patricia Wells's The Paris Cookbook, also written from the perspective of an American in Paris, which provides simple, well-written recipes that can be successfully prepared by both experienced and novice home cooks in North American kitchens.-Mary Schlueter, Missouri River Regional Lib., Jefferson City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



French Food at Home Carrot Juice Chicken Serves 4 to 6 Three-star chef Alain Passard did this on TV once with a rabbit and I, recalling my late grandfather's homemade carrot juice which I loathed to drink in my youth, thought, "ick." Fortunately, that "ick" was overwhelmed by my fascination with the idea of cooking meat in carrot juice, and so I tried it. Well, what a revelation. Carrot juice added in judicious ladles over browned chicken pieces in a pan cooks down to a caramelized orangey glaze that coats the meat and gives it remarkable taste, flirting with both acidity and sweetness. I still won't drink carrot juice, but I'll do this. Try it with rabbit or veal, if you like. Ingredients 4 chicken legs (about 1/2 pound/250 g each), split between thigh and drumstick Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary 1 1 tablespoon fresh thyme 4 cups/1 l carrot juice Instructions Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a sauté, pan until hot, and brown the chicken pieces well on all sides (working in batches -- if necessary), a good 20 minutes. Pour all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan and scatter the herbs over the chicken. Now ladle in about 1 cup/250 ml of the juice and cook until reduced to a syrup. Turn the chicken. Ladle in another 1/2 cup/125 ml and let it reduce. Continue adding the juice by 1/2 cups (125 ml), turning the chicken occasionally, until it is tender and coated in a shiny orange glaze. When the last ladle of juice has reduced to a sauce-like syrup, transfer the chicken to a serving platter, drizzle over the pan sauce, and serve. Salmon Poached in Olive Oil Serves 4 It's not that this recipe takes any time to make, but it is luxurious with all the olive oil, even if you do use an inexpensive kind, which I recommend. What's remarkable about the gentle poaching in warm, fragrant oil is that the fish emerges extraordinarily supple, cooked to absolute perfection. The garnish of diced tomato and shredded basil leaves mixed with a bit of the warmed oil and spooned over is all that's needed. Serve the salmon on Green Beans with Shallots and Toasted Almonds (page 174), substituting toasted pine nuts in place of the almonds. Cucumber slices lightly sautéed is another good base. Once the fish is poached, cool the leftover oil, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve, and store it in a jar in the refrigerator for the next time. Halibut and trout are also otherworldly cooked like this, so "next time" should be soon. Ingredients 4 skinned salmon fillets (1/4 pound/125 g each) Salt and pepper About 1 1/2 cups/375 ml olive oil, more if needed 1 tomato, seeded and finely diced 8 basil leaves, shredded 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar Instructions Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and lay them in a frying pan or saucepan just large enough to hold them. Pour in oil to just cover them. Heat gently until the oil is quite warm to the touch. Turn off the heat and let the fish sit in the oil to poach until cooked but still pink in the center, 10 to 15 minutes. When it's cooked, remove the fish to serving plates. Pour all but 1/4 cup/60 ml of the oil out of the pan. There will be a bit of fish residue at the bottom, which you want to hang on to for flavor. Add the tomato and basil to the oil, taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Heat for just a minute, then spoon around the fish, and let fall a few raindrops of vinegar around each. Serve immediately. French Food at Home . Copyright © by Laura Calder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from French Food at Home by Laura Calder All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.