Of course I’ve heard of Dorie Greenspan. Her name makes me think of Paris, baking, and World Peace Cookies. I’ve perused her blog and listened to her guest appearances on The Splendid Table. I always thought of her as a baker, but her newest cookbook, Around My French Table, proves that she is an accomplished cook as well. After 30 years of living and travelling in France she accumulated a vast collection of recipes from friends, and she also concocted many of her own while living in Paris, inspired by the quality ingredients available in markets and shops. It seems like the book Greenspan has waited her whole life to write.
The comparisons to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking are expected, but Greenspan’s book is quite different. Instead of emphasizing classical technique, it showcases modern French home-cooking, combining recipes for the obligatory seared duck breasts and onion soup as well as Lamb Tagine, Vietnamese Chicken Soup, and other recipes influenced by France’s colonial legacy that home cooks have now incorporated into their regular kitchen repertoire.
This is a hefty cookbook, complete with stunning photos of many of the recipes, beckoning you to cook them. Around My French Table is the kind of book where you can flip to the index and look up an ingredient if you need to use up something in your fridge. It is packed with simple, vegetable-heavy recipes that are just a little different and more exciting. For Easter, her asparagus with onion and bacon was outstanding, especially with my homemade smoked pancetta/bacon.
So for the last few months I got carried away, making labor-intensive and meat-heavy meals. I don’t bother to chronicle them because by the time the food is ready, I’m too tired and hungry to photograph anything. Beef rendang and homemade chicken satay are delicious, but they also take about three hours to make. Dorie Greenspan’s beautiful book is reminding me that a simple asparagus soup, well-prepared lentils, or a goat cheese tartine and salad can make a super-satisfying meal in under an hour. Her recipes highlight fresh, pure ingredients, which is really the core of French home cooking.