Often seen as sophisticated and complicated, French cuisine might seem intimidating to your average home cook. However, homemade French food is very different from food served in high-end French restaurants. Most traditional recipes originate in the countryside and were prepared by women who were also busy working in the fields, in factories or running houses. They had little time to cook fancy food.
Food in France is all about love and friendship. With this in mind, Anne-Sophie Dubois, originally from France but now a true-blue Aussie, albeit with a lovely accent, has always enjoyed cooking and preparing traditional meals to share with her friends and family. After years of supplying one-off recipes on request Anne-Sophie came up with the idea to write a book to share these recipes and stories so they could be enjoyed by all.
'My Traditional French Cooking' has been written in both French and English. Each recipe is accompanied by step-by-step instructions in French and English and a map of France showing where it originates along with an anecdote to help explain the dish.
It's not just a cookbook, Anne-Sophie's wonderful book contains information about language, history and interesting facts to help the cook (and the diner) understand the significance of the recipe. These real French recipes are aimed at the Australian palate so you won't find frog legs or foie gras if that has you worried.
'My Traditional French Cooking' recipes are 'localised' to contain ingredients you can easily find – most can be purchased from Coles or Woollies. Where they might be a bit harder to find Anne-Sophie has included a where-to-shop list in the Brisbane edition of the book.
All the ingredients are named and described in French and English so you won't need a translation dictionary! Where some cuts of meat are different in France, Anne-Sophie has substituted appropriate Australian cuts.
Wine is an important accompaniment to French food. Anne-Sophie's parents and her husband are from wine growing areas so wine is taken very seriously in her household. Anne-Sophie has selected wines to match each dish. She discusses suitable French wines to accompany her recipes and, at the back of the book, you'll find an explanation of the regional wines, the characteristics of taste and the grapes used (in France wines are named after the place where they are made, not by the grape used). These descriptions will assist you in finding an Australian equivalent should you prefer.
The recipes represent all the regions of France with several being recipes used within Anne-Sophie' own family. The one you must try is Anne-Sophie's grandmother's special paté (Pork terrine). It was a family trade secret and Anne-Sophie has been chastised for giving away the family's trademark recipe!
What can you expect in the book?
Well, for a start the step-by-step method for every recipe is set out in both languages, with a picture and a bilingual anecdote.
Everything you need to know for the perfect Tarte a l'Oignon or Onion Tart
You can make simple evening meals such as, Backeoffe (Alsatian Three Meat Stew). A delicious mixture of three meats representing the three main religions in Alsace: Beef for the Catholics; pork for the Protestants; and lamb for the Jews.
A 'special occasion' recipe; for example, galette des rois or king's cake. An almond pie once eaten in France only on the Epiphany (6 January) but now eaten throughout January. Traditionally, a small porcelain charm is hidden in the cake and whoever finds it is the king or the queen for the day. You can celebrate this tradition every January. However, the rule is, you can only bake galette des rois during January; never at any other time of the year.
Do you know how éclairs got their name? Perhaps knowing this will make them even more delicious!
Then there's always Canneles, or little fluted cakes from Bordeaux made with vanilla, cane sugar and egg yolk. Or a Tarte au Chocolat et a la Crème de Marron (Chocolate and Chestnut Cream Tart) would be more to your liking. Why not try both; all you have to do is follow the directions.
I'm sure I could find a place in my diet for these tasty treats
Have you noticed the wonderful photos making you drool over your keyboard? They are provided by Jason Malouin who is a man dedicated to his art. For weeks he presented himself at Anne-Sophie's each Monday afternoon after she had been cooking all day. He would then slavishly photograph the food as it came out of the oven. There was no cheating, what you see is what Anne-Sophie delivered (and what you can too). Jason has done an amazing job; he is a true artist!
Then, after the photo shoots, Jason would assist in eating his subjects – oh, how an artist must suffer for his work!