I love reviewing cookbooks, since moving to Modesto and not being able to find a job…I am still looking…I have taken up reading a lot of cookbooks. Some for review, others I received years ago as wedding gifts. I have tried new techniques and new styles of cooking. It’s exciting for me to get a new book, I have pretty high standards now, but beyond how the book is assembled or written I love trying new recipes…it’s always fun for Travis and I to realize we love a new ingredient or style of cooking. There is always trial and error but thankfully, we haven’t found many recipes or ingredients that just don’t work for us.
I recently received ‘A Kitchen in France’ by Mimi Thorisson for review. This is my first ever French Cookbook. I have never tried french recipes before. I watched Julie and Julia, and I may have been a little traumatized. French cooking terrifies me, well, it did. Thorisson’s book houses a variety of recipes ranging from french classics such as escargot, to savory tarts and beautiful meringues and desserts to die for. Thorisson cooks with flowers, berries, lamb, pork, poultry and of course wine.
My criticism of the book is (like I said I am picky how cookbooks are arranged) there are a number of recipes that require you to turn the page to continue the instructions. These recipes are by far in the minority but they are there. You maybe thinking to yourself, “this chick is nuts,” I am not but think about it when you are in the middle of cooking something and both hands are tied up with something and then you need to turn the page…and then turn it back to see how many or how much of this or that you need. It’s a pet peeve and I have found more cookbooks recently are thinking about the layout outs of their books, to them I thank you. I would also love a translation of all the french terms she uses. Thorisson does a great job about 80% of the time explaining the dish in the intro to each recipe but sometimes I felt I needed more explanation.
What I liked about this book is it is arranged by season. Oh, you have no idea how great it is to cook and shop based on what is available, locally and seasonly. Thorisson says, “We want what we want when it’s in season.” More chefs and home cooks need to embody this style of cooking and I’m so glad she does. Each season is then broken down by starters, main courses and desserts. Each recipe includes the number of servings and ingredients for each component. Thorisson also has notes for a few dishes requiring maybe just a little bit more information on how to select an ingredient or instruction on choosing a wine.
This cookbook is a eggshell finish hardcover, with jacket, with full bleed color. The pages are heavy weight, full color with photographs by Thorisson’s husband. I throughly enjoyed Thorisson’s introduction to the book, it made me feel connected to her and eager to read her recipes. She has a line at the end of her introduction that really inspired me. Not just in the kitchen but for life…’someone [to] feel that we can all, at some point, live our dreams one way or another, change our lives if we wish to, even if it’s just to try it out, then so much more the better.’
If you have ever wanted to give French Cooking a try, and would consider yourself an intermediate level cook. Then I recommend this text.
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