the first time I have reviewed a cookbook without holding it in my hands, to
feel its heft, and how it actually reads with (and without) my glasses.
, by Maria Zihammou with photographs by Åsa Dahlgren, is a real beauty,
at least in the online proof sent to me by Skyhorse Publishing. (Disclaimer: I was sent
this free copy to give my honest opinion of the book.)
Originally published in Swedish in 2013, it is being released this year in English with translation by Cory Klingsporn.
layout is immediately engaging, with photographs that make me want to scratch
the page to see if, by chance, I might get a sniff of the food Maria has
outset, she tells us that these are her
interpretations of French bistro
classics. I appreciate that disclaimer. Why? Because I like that she is being
creative yet respectful of culinary traditions. The changes she makes aren’
t huge, but they aren’
t traditional. The onion soup,
for example, calls for vegetable or chicken stock. I have never seen it made it
with anything but beef stock.
Maria has a good
sense of flavors, and has adapted many of these recipes to make them more
accessible and less daunting for a home cook.
that her recipe for Pâté with Radishes and Horseradish Cream, calls for “4 slices good pâté” – purchased, I assume; who
among us is a French farmwife with time to work up a pâté from scratch? Yet she also
gives us recipes for rilettes from scratch, which are not too
difficult, and rather fun to make.
the non-traditional chapters of the book, and the French titles she chose for them:
(Appetizers), À la Minute
(In a Minute), Au Four
(From the Oven), De
(Rustic), Un Bon Marriage
(A Marriage of Flavors), Ose!
Flavors), Les Fromages
(About Cheese), Les Desserts
(Sweets), Apéritifs, Digestifs, et les
Her book concludes with menu suggestions. Few may
replicate an exact menu, but in those “
moments that vex us all, these are just right for getting
the creative juices flowing.
One downside to the book is the way the recipes are written. It reminds me of reading old recipe cards from my grandmother – a list of ingredients, sometimes without clear quantities, and often with unclear directions. A seasoned cook will be able to make sense of them but, for someone who is just learning, this book might be very frustrating.
celebrates the simplicity of bistro cuisine and, simultaneously, presents dishes that are elegant enough for a Michelin-starred restaurant.
For this post, I chose to make a rustic classic: Poulet Bonne Femme
, browned chicken which is then braised in apple cider and finished with cream. Served with a crusty hunk of bread, a salad, and glass of wine, I can think of no meal more satisfying.
I look forward to the book's release so I can hold it in my
hand, spatter its pages while cooking, and share its delights with my friends.
Chicken Stew with Apple Cider and Cream
(My notes appear in blue)
freshly ground black pepper
ounces (100 g) lightly salted pork belly
onions (If you count mine, I think I used 13)
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) dry apple
cider (I used fresh apple cider from our farmers market)
garni (a few sprigs of parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf tied with cooking twine)
1/2 cup (100 ml) cream
the chicken into eight pieces (I used 8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in.). Flour, salt, and pepper each piece. Sear them in
a pan with half of the butter, so the chicken gets a nice color all around.
Transfer the chicken to a large pot.
pork belly into small cubes and sauté it in the pan in the remaining butter. Peel the onions and
add them to the pan when the pork begins to take on some color and become
crispy. Continue sautéing until the onion, too, has browned. Then place the
onions and pork in the pot with the chicken—use a slotted spoon to avoid
picking up too much of the fat. Pour in the cider and bring to a boil, without
together the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf to make a small bouquet garni. Place
it in the bottom of the pot and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the
cream and cook, uncovered, for about 10 more minutes, then garnish with
with salad and rustic sourdough bread.
|A lovely rosé, but not the best pairing for this Norman dish.|
I suggest something much heartier. As the Malbec grape is grown widely
in the region, I would look for a red that is 100% Malbec to serve with this.
Labels: åsa dalgren, boneless chicken thighs, bouquet garni, cider, cookbook review, cream, maria zihammou, paris bistro, poulet bonne femme