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Everyday French Cooking
ISBN 1584791187 / 9781584791188 / 1-58479-118-7
Publisher Stewart, Tabori and Chang
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Christian Constant is among France's most acclaimed chefs. His Parisian bistro deluxe, Le Violon d'Igres, has earned him Michelin guide plaudits and raves for its sophisticated yet earthy cuisine. Everyday French Cooking, Constant's first American cookbook, celebrates the bold stylishness of his cooking, providing more than 80 recipes for the likes of Cream of Lentil Soup Garnished with Bacon, Croutons, and Chives; Veal Fricassee with Basil; and Crumb-Topped Sea Bass with Sautéed Pears, Lemon Zest, and Baby Spinach Salad. Though a good percentage of the mouthwatering dishes are simple in approach, preparation for all requires attention and time that might belie their "everyday" usefulness. Cooks willing to take the plunge, however, will reward themselves with skill-expanding workouts that delight those they feed.
The book's chapters, which cover appetizers through desserts, are a concise distillation of Constant's art. It's hard to imagine a dinner party that wouldn't benefit from Vegetable Tempura with Soy-Flavored Tartar Sauce or Herb-Crusted Leg of Lamb on White Beans. If Constant likes his foie gras--Carpaccio of Marinated Duck Foie Gras is one of six recipes devoted to that extraordinary (and costly) specialty--he also dotes on homier fare, such as Endive Gratin with Ham and Roasted Baby Scallops with Chive Butter. Similarly, a chapter on one-dish meals presents Grandma's Red-Wine Daub of Beef and French Shepherd's Pie. Sweets, including Lemon Meringue Tart and the astounding Rich Layered Chocolate Tart (chocolate pastry with chocolate sponge, filling, and icing), peak deliciously for themselves. --Arthur Boehm [via]