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chefzadi

French cookbooks for the home cook

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I'm asked about this all the time. I mean ALL the time by English and French speakers. (As if I'm reading Julia Childs or something. :raz: ) I have no idea what to recommend. I understand that English is lingua franca here, but I also need some French language books.

Help!


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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For what it's worth, I started with a now out-of-print Jacques Pepin cookbook, most of which appears to have been cribbed from La Technique when it was out of print and is now re-included in "The Complete Technique" or whatever the re-release is called. Lots of pictures of basic skills -- like how to hold a knife -- as well as techniques both simple and complex. And, of course, Julia. A good combo, actually, as her recipes are easier and his pictures are better.

The eG online U isn't bad, either (see the knifework piece referenced in the vegetable turning thread.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Yes, Theres Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume I and Volume II which are useful for step by step walkthoughs, and then once you've done that, you can get a lot of ideas from a volume which was subsequently written by one of the co-authors of Julia's Volume I, Louisette Bertholle, called French Cooking for All. This does not have the step by steps but once you have Julia's Technique it's got a lot of good recipe ideas. Paula Wolfort's The Cooking of Southwest France covers many of the more well known plus some nostalic gems direct from the source from that region. There are several nice little tomes - Wolfgang Puck did a good one called Modern French Cooking with some tutorials on various carving techniques also with some expansion on what to do with pate feuilleté which I appreciated, and lighter sauces (not using flour but lots of butter).

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Penguin had a fine series of paperbacks by Elizabeth David. She died about 15 years ago, but had a lengthy career as a cookbook author in France and the surrounding Mediterranean area. Her husband was an English diplomat, so she was able to live in those areas. Books to look out for on used shelves, or interlibrary loans are

French Provincial Cooking

French Country Food

Mediterranean Food

The recipes are simple, authentic, and great to read at bedtime.

I have seen some books in hard cover, and some are available from internet sources.


Edited by jayt90 (log)

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My absolute favorite is Simple French Food by Richard Olney. When I lived in Paris about twenty years ago I used to cook from it all the time, and recently I began using it heavily again. The recipes aren't always "simple" -- he's fairly uncompromising, and I tend to skip the dishes that require larding and such -- but I just really like his taste in food and his writing style is beautiful.

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For books on good old French homecooking in French, I would recommend the books of the late Ginette Mathiot or the books of Francoise Bernard.

There is also the more rustic (and comic sometimes) Maïté who published numerous books.


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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In French: Ginette Mathiot's Je sais cuisiner, Reboul's La Cuisinière provençale, Pellaprat's L'Art culinaire moderne. I think you're all set with those three. Also, books by Françoise Bernard, Bocuse's La Cuisine du marché are classics.

My favorite French cookbooks are the ones that propose, everyday, simple recipes with a twist, a "coup de main" that makes them stand out. It is not often possible to identify that sort of books until you start making the recipes and find out that the "twist" is there. For instance, you start roasting a chicken according to the instructions in the book, and by and by you begin to feel like you had never roasted a chicken before.

Most of the other cookbooks I use are in English, but in French I like Philippe Delacourcelle's Ma cuisine à fleur d'épices, to me the perfect fusion of spices, Asian techniques and classical, everyday French cooking. It is the only chef book I really like, because it's the least "chef-oriented". And it has "the twist".

A humble book published by Fernand Nathan in the early 1980's has proved to be my most cherished cookbook and the one I have used the most. Its title is La Cuisine de ma grand-mère, the author is Paulette Buteux, and the recipes are taken from the author's Vendéenne granny, who obviously was a fantastic cook.

Still in the twist department: an enigmatic out-of-print book published in the 60's under a pen-name, Bifrons' 200 Recettes secrètes de la cuisine française, now this is the perfect anthology of twists, there is one at every page. It may still be found at second-hand bookstores and it's a delight. More on this book here.

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I'm asked about this all the time. I mean ALL the time by English and French speakers. (As if I'm reading Julia Childs or something.  :raz: ) I have no idea what to recommend. I understand that English is lingua franca here, but I also need some French language books.

Help!

I'm (semi) embarassed to say that I have only a few French language cookbooks, among them Escoffier's Ma Cuisine, Anne-Catherine Bley's soup book but my standard is the ancient Brit TV star Floyd's Floyd on France in English but his stuff tastes pretty good.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Cookbooks in French are my addiction. :blink: For visiters to Paris' Clignancourt flea market, I propose the enormous used bookstore on the back of the market. It has about 10 yards of esoteric and classic cookbooks as well as a large wine section. What to do on a rainy day! And the prices are exceptionally good. Also, the large used book market on Saturdays and Sundays on outer Lecourbe has offered up some gems (eg Veyrat at 10 euros).

I have long preached that one of the best ways to improve your skills in a foreign language is to approach it from subject matter you understand. Food and cooking books are my entry; rocket science is not. :hmmm:


eGullet member #80.

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Most of the other cookbooks I use are in English, but in French I like Philippe Delacourcelle's Ma cuisine à fleur d'épices, to me the perfect fusion of spices, Asian techniques and classical, everyday French cooking. It is the only chef book I really like, because it's the least "chef-oriented". And it has "the twist".

What would you consider a chef oriented cookbook?

I've read some threads in the cooking forum regarding a few cookbooks. There is one in particular that I think is not the best to try to learn techniques from (since it does a poor job of explaining them step by step nor does it clearly explain which steps aren't really necessary) and it doesn't have very many recipes that I would suggest to home cooks unless they have a kitchen staff of say 40. I suppose this chef was the first to publish certain aspects of cuisine gastronomique techniques to an American audience. I have no problems with these types of cookbooks. But it was a bit painful to read some of the posts/threads about a particular recipe that took hours and hours to do, I think someone gave up in exhaustion mid way through. It's really a simple dish and the techniques were simple enough, but there were alot of steps that were more for the sake appearance at an extreme level.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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What would you consider a chef oriented cookbook?

Please see below.

There is one in particular that I think is not the best to try to learn techniques from (since it does a poor job of explaining them step by step nor does it clearly explain which steps aren't really necessary) and it doesn't have very many recipes that I would suggest to home cooks unless they have a kitchen staff of say 40.

What I would consider a chef-oriented cookbook is just that.

Which doesn't mean that all chef books are like this. Good recipe editing (the presence of a good food writer between the chef and the publisher of the book) is what makes all the difference. But sometimes the recipes in illustrious chef books are not supposed to be tried at home, they're only a "monument", a celebration of the chef's art, and there's no need (or even possibility) to apply proper recipe editing there. However, in this case, the book doesn't fall into the category of cookbooks. The problem rises when it is sold and advertised as one.

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Two books by French chefs (with a non-chef writer also on board) are:

"Simply French" (Joel Robuchon and Patricia Wells)

and

"Cafe Boulud" (Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan)

Both of these deliver dishes with finesse but have apparently been edited and/or adjusted to make them accessible to a reasonably experienced home cook.

I also like Patricia Well's, "Bistro Cooking" and Madeine Kamman's "When French Women Cook". I've cooked almost half of Well's recipes with great success and I love the background in regional French cooking in Kamman's book.


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Are you specifically looking for books that teach classic techniques or a particular region or aspect of french cooking? Novice, intermediate, expert?

I would second the Julia Child MAFC Vol. 1 recommendation and Paula's The Cooking of South West France is probably my favorite cookbook I own (have cooking through about 1/3 of it). I also recommend Olney, but I have French Menu Cookbook, not Simple French Food. I have worked on a bit of collection of French cookbooks in translation (and a few not in translation) and here are a few of my favorites.

Modern French Culinary Art by Henri Pelliprat - For me, the best of the Encyclopedia cookbooks and the pictures are just great. I have found it more generally useful than Larousse or my Escoffier books (even made my Thanksgiving oyster stuffing recipe from it).

Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point - When I first got it, I was skeptical because it wasn't like most of my cookbooks, but over time I realized I have incorporated a lot of the advice in my dishes.

The Cooking of Haute Provence by Georgeanne Brennan - For me, this is the best of the provence cookbooks (although others may like the Patricia Wells book(s)).

Cuisine Minceur by Michel Guerard - One of the particular areas I have been trying to collect are cookbooks by the Nouvelle chefs. There are two Paul Bocuse books are ok (Paul Bocuse's French Cooking and In Your Kitchen) depending on your level, and the books by the Troisgros Bros (The Nouvelle Cuisine of Jean and Pierre Troisgros) and Roger Verge (Roger Verge's Cuisine of the South of France) have some interesting recipes, but this one is the best to my mind from the 70s.

In addition, although they are really American (specifically NYC) books, I am currently fond of both the Balthazar and Les Halles cookbooks. Les Halles is a little more technique oriented, but both have good, reliable brasserie dishes. I would choose Les Halles if I could only pick one of them.

However, if I could only choose one book, it would be Paula's book on the Southwest.

Not to divert the subject, but I have been looking for an English translation of any of the books by Bernard Oiseau. Does anyone know if they exist?


Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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La Cuisine, by Raymond Oliver, isn't bad -- and it's available in the original French or in English.


Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Chef Zadi asked the question "What would you consider a chef oriented cookbook?

How about the textbooks from Le Cordon Bleu?I know a lot of good home cooks who buy the CIA pro textbook for the same reason i would recommend LCB Paris to those who would like to learn.

Regards Chef Z,

Dave s


"Food is our common ground,a universal experience"

James Beard

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Not to divert the subject, but I have been looking for an English translation of any of the books by Bernard Oiseau.  Does anyone know if they exist?

Reading your post I first thought that you might have searched the Internet using the name "Oiseau" and found nothing... But I searched on amazon.com with the correct name "Loiseau" and, surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be any English translation of the late chef's books.

However, I can recommend this book in English.

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Not to divert the subject, but I have been looking for an English translation of any of the books by Bernard Oiseau.  Does anyone know if they exist?

Reading your post I first thought that you might have searched the Internet using the name "Oiseau" and found nothing... But I searched on amazon.com with the correct name "Loiseau" and, surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be any English translation of the late chef's books.

However, I can recommend this book in English.

Typo on my part. I had originally searched for Loiseau and didn't find anyway. Thanks anyway.

I had almost bought the Guy Savoy book and one point and held off. But now you've convinced me. :smile:

Another question since I have the right audience...

I have some regional cookbooks that I like (such as the Wolfert book on SW France and the others I mentioned), but have been looking for particularly good books on the cuisine of the following regions in English.

- Alsace

- Burgundy

- Lyon

- Normandy and/or Brittany (I only have one by Marie-Blanche De Broglie which could be better)

A couple of other authors whose books I have not read in English are Ducasse and Girardet. Does anyone recommend either one (or not)?


Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Are you specifically looking for books that teach classic techniques or a particular region or aspect of french cooking? Novice, intermediate, expert?

I'm asked for recommendations by homecooks of different skill levels. Even a kids cookbook recomendation would be welcomed.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Two books by French chefs (with a non-chef writer also on board) are:

"Simply French" (Joel Robuchon and Patricia Wells)

and

"Cafe Boulud" (Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan)

Both of these deliver dishes with finesse but have apparently been edited and/or adjusted to make them accessible to a reasonably experienced home cook.

I also like Patricia Well's, "Bistro Cooking" and Madeine Kamman's "When French Women Cook".  I've cooked almost half of Well's recipes with great success and I love the background in regional French cooking in Kamman's book.

I own and use both of these. I particularly recommend Kamman, in light of the French Regional Cooking thread currently going on. An excellent introduction to the similarities and differences among France's regions, and the kinds of women who brought (and bring) French cooking to life.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Are you specifically looking for books that teach classic techniques or a particular region or aspect of french cooking? Novice, intermediate, expert?

I'm asked for recommendations by homecooks of different skill levels. Even a kids cookbook recomendation would be welcomed.

Wish I knew a good children's french cookbook (if anyone knows please respond, as this would be a perfect gift for my niece).

A few thoughts:

Bocuse's In Your Kitchen has very simple recipes. It's pretty light on technique. His Regional French Cooking varies in complexity. Still light on technique.

The Wolfert book is too complex for a novice (could probably do a few dishes), but appropriate for intermediate or higher.

MAFC is a good book for all levels, IMHO. I have cooked from it a ton. However, it lacks pictures/illustrations of a lot of its techniques. Here I would go with Pepin's technique book (I would definitely recommend it. The only thing better would be actual video.)

Most of the others I mentioned were mainly recipes of varying quality, most of them intermediate level).


"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Julia Child's MAFC Vol 1 is excellent. Vol 2 is not essential to my mind.

I also really like Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cooking.

And in French, and surprisingly easy to follow even with my basic language skills, George Blanc's Cuisine en Famille - great for Poulet de Bresse recipes.


PS

Edinburgh

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A reference yet unmentioned:

A decade ago when i was just beginning to learn French (the language) the mother of a French friend gave me her copy of La Cuisine de Madame Saint-Ange. It's perhaps the equivalent of the Joy of Cooking so for recipes probably not for most of us reading this. It's incredibly comprehensive so long as you're content with la cuisine traditionelle sans "twists". The explanations are simple and easy to follow. I like it especially for the early chapters with basic vocabulary and definitions as well as explanations of basic techniques--excellent for beginner cooks and linguists alike. But basic as it is, as a reference source I still find it useful. Until I read the instructions for preparing snails, for example, I had no idea what went into getting those little guys ready for the butter and parsley--ugh. I'll stick to eating them in restaurants.



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I like many of the books (in English) mentioned above. Another book that hasn't been mentioned is James Peterson's Glorious French Food. It is a recent book, but it is devoted to the classics. He approaches the stodgy in a non-stodgy manner, subtly delivering a manifesto in support of food that many consider passe. And he's a born teacher.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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