A Love Letter to Dorie Greenspan For Around My French Table

There is such a glut of cookbooks out there. How do you find one that's right for you?

In the last months, one that's been receiving a lot of attention is Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

There are a lot of new cookbooks that get a lot of praise, but I knew this one was worth it when food store owners, home cooks and professional chefs were saying how much they got from it. That to me is a sign that it can work for everyone from novice to pro.

And in case you have the notion that French food is difficult to make, laden with fat and extremely heavy on the palate, this book is about to change that.

I don't know how Dorie makes French food finally seem so accessible and unintimidating, but she does.On her website she writes:

"This is an extremely personal book – you'll meet my French friends and learn a lot about my life in Paris – and so it's not a by-the-rules book, not Escoffier and not Mastering The Art of French Cooking (nothing else could be, or should be). I think of it as a snapshot of French home cooking today, a look at what my friends and I are cooking at home in France. And, since French people are as busy as we are, it's also a surprising look at how simple today's home cooking is." 

And that is just the kind of warm, encouraging tone throughout the book. 

Perhaps I've seen too many movies with French chefs yelling about perfection and being extremely meticulous, but I've always been intimated by both the methods and ingredients. But Dorie 's gentle words brought me off the ledge and into the kitchen again. I am excited by the ease of making her Savory Cheese and Chive Bread and Socca from Vieux Nice, things I wouldn't even attempt in another French tome - but here it actually seems possible.

And 23 soups to choose from? That alone makes it a keeper.  
I am eternally grateful for her Chicken and Duck Section. I have only made duck a few times, so I am still getting to know how it works, how it responds. But I've recently found a place not too far from home that offers duck for a great price, so I've really wanted to learn how to handle and cook it like a pro. Dorie has a whole page dedicated to duck basics and her recipe, Twenty-Minute Honey-Glazed Duck Breasts completely demystified the whole genre for me, in just a few minutes.

And being such a big meat eater, I am grateful for the robust Beef, Veal, Pork and Lamb Sections. In this cold weather, what could be more comforting than Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak, Osso Buco a l'Arman, Cola and Jam Spareribs and Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine?  And these are all dishes that you can absolutely make after you rush home from the office with ease.  

Isn't that fabulous?

I will return to these recipes again and again because they are wonderfully delicious and easy to make. I will forever be indebted to Dorie Greenspan for changing  my opinions about French cooking and changing my own cooking. I now make French food at home. And it's really, really good. I can't believe it (Will there be a French restaurant in my future? I wouldn't have thought so before, but now...)!

These are just some of the reasons Around My French Table is an must-have in your cookbook collection (I didn't even get to the sections on Fish & Shellfish, Vegetables & Grains and Desserts - I thought I'd leave a few surprises for you to discover on your own!).

p.s. Thank you, Dorie Greenspan. You have changed everything.

Stephanie Dickison

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