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Ebook Cooking of South West France by Paula Wolfert read! Book Title: Cooking of South West France
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 461 KB
City - Country: No data
The author of the book: Paula Wolfert
Edition: Grub Street
Date of issue: April 30th 1999
ISBN: 1902304136
ISBN 13: 9781902304137
Loaded: 2053 times
Reader ratings: 5.2

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This was a well-done cookbook dealing only with cuisine of the limited geography of South-West France as specified in the title. The author focussed on the area's rustic, hearty dishes and covered them very well. The geography was limited but the food was not. There were many famous dishes to cover. She gave maps, recipes of local cities, individual techniques of various people ranging from top chefs to peasant housewives. She made numerous trips to the area and became friendly with its cooks and chefs and learned their great recipes, concepts, tastes, oral lore, and techniques.

I disagree with her comment in her "Acknowledgments" that she wants to lower fat in the recipes because she thinks fat is unhealthy. I completely disagree with this theory which has been heavily promoted since about 1970 or so and I regret that the author believes this. There is not only nothing wrong with butter, suet, fish fats, marrow and other animal fats which are tasty, satisfying and filling, but they also contain essential fatty acids which are necessary for good health. Essential fatty acids come from animal fats and a few seeds and they ARE essential to human life.

I liked her Attribution page wherein she explained that she was scrupulous about assigning credit for the recipes. If there is no attribution, then the dish was in the common domain. If the recipe stated "Inspired by a recipe from..." then she was taught that recipe by that person and she has changed the recipe to make substitutions, simplifications or improvements for her readers in the United States. Finally, a recipe that bears a name (such as Lucien Vanel) in its title or in its introduction was from that person.

Next came her "Introduction" with at least three pages dwelling on reducing fats in food which I wish she had omitted. She had a good paragraph on making sauces by stratification which I previously had never understood, and here she explained it in a way that I finally got it. You quickly and vigorously heat an acid, harmonize it with a stock, and bind them together with a fat, but she explained the process much more artistically than I just did.

There was a major mistake in the "Contents" because it listed "Crèpes" in Chapter One, but there were no crèpes nor any kind of pancakes there. I finally figured out that the "Contents" should have said "Cèpes" which are mushrooms. Her first chapter was an overview of tastes anchored in this culture: foie gras, truffles, cèpes, Armagnac, confits, and more.

Chapter Two was stocks, demi-glaces, sauces, and bread. Chapter Three was soup, garbures, miques, veloutés and more. Chapter Four was salads, dressings, tapenade, and rillettes. Chapter Five covered appetizers, compotes, terrines, stuffed duck neck in brioche, sauces, snails, and asparagus. I liked the pages she had on peeling asparagus and how to easily make your own asparagus peeler with a knife guide made of wire.

Chapter Six was supper dishes such as cabbage cakes and sausage (El Trinxat Cerda), Pipérade (Sauce Basquaise with Eggs and Ham), and Croustade of Duck Confit with Apples. Chapter Seven handled vegetables such as eggplant, braised leeks, potatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, onions, fried pumpkin slices, corn cakes and more (here I've stripped them of their fancy French names).

Chapter Eight was about seafood and fish. One recipe was Coquilles St. Jacques, Sauce Mandarine (or Scallops in Tangerine Sauce). Here a mystery was solved for me. Previously I had failed to be able to cook edible morue (salt cod). Now I know the methods and techniques to get salt cod ready for successful cooking by either poaching, frying or roasting.

Chapter Nine was a hefty chapter on chicken, and Chapter Ten was on "Ducks, Geese, and Game" dishes. You can learn how to make a salt crust, how to make confits, rillettes, how to grill quail, and how to cook pheasants. There was a recipe for rabbit with pears and ginger: "Poires Confites au Gingembre".

Chapter Eleven gives several of the many versions of cassoulets for the locale. Chapter Twelve is a large chapter with many substantial hearty recipes for pork, beef, veal, and lamb.

Chapter Thirteen was "Desserts" and I recognized one of my favorites, Clafouti which is a fun fruit pie baked in a cast iron skillet without any crust and with pits left in the fruits. You put unpitted cherries (or small plums or berries or any small fruit) into the skillet and pour an egg custard over the fruits and bake. I did not like her version because she said to remove the stones and that's the whole point of a clafouti – to be playful and to make people spit out stones from a silly pie lacking a crust!

I enjoyed all of this book except the pastry preparations which were not explained. She just gave a list of ingredients to dump into a food processor and eliminated most of the kneading and manipulations of the dough. I was disappointed. The food processor dump was jarring after an entire book of deeply massaging various foods to coax and finesse and enhance their flavors and tastes; now I was just dumping parts into an impartial grinding machine. I was removed from the artistry. Even though the pie crusts were called "Pâtè à Croustade du Sud-Ouest" and "Pâtè Sucrée"
this preparation lost its heart and soul when the food processor took my place for the labor. I liked the "Preserves" recipes using brandies and spirits with fruits.

There was a nice appendix with many nice cooking tips and explanations (how to make crème frâiche, verjus, clarified butter) and sources for some ingredients (tartaric acid, orange flower water, sauces) and recommendations for quality brands to buy (Petrossian for truffles).

The index was scant. Throughout the book, the author had several recipes requiring pastry and said to use her home-made croustade recipe. When I searched the index under for "croustade", it said to look under "pie, covered". There were two recipes with croustades there: – a croustade of duck confit and a croustade with quince and prunes. I read through each of the two recipes and each recipe said the home-made croustade dough followed its recipe, but it did not. After I had almost finished all of the book, the last recipe ended on page 340, I finally stumbled onto the disappointing food processor dough recipe on page 334. A food processor did not match my rustic imagery of making a pie crust. Not perfect, but this was definitely an excellent book, except for "New Techniques to Lighten Hearty Dishes" which I would just omit.

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