Of course, Julia started it all. But American home cooks have had many other ambassadors to French food: there’s Patricia Wells, there’s Anne Willan. There’s also Jacques Pepin, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Jeremiah Tower. Heck, even Ina Garten--aka the Barefoot Contessa--has done France. And now, we have Dorie Greenspan.
In Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes From My Home to Yours, which Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish October 8, Greenspan, a James Beard and IACP award-winning cookbook author who worked with Child--as well as Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, Pierre Herme and many others--shares recipes she perfected while living in Paris intermittently over the past 13 years. Yes, the classics are here; Greenspan says her recipe for beef daube is one everyone should have in their cooking back pocket, and can you get more textbook French than moules mariniere, cheese souffle, and chocolate mousse?But there are surprises, too: a warm scallop salad with corn, nectarines and basil seems more Connecticut than Champs Elysees. And despite its name, spicy Vietnamese chicken noodle soup is French, thanks to France’s strong ties to Vietnam. Greenspan’s longtime editor, Rux Martin, calls the book “dazzling” and “revolutionary,” noting that it’s filled with recipes that “are not what Americans think of when they think of French food.”
At a luncheon to celebrate the book’s publication at New York’s Blue Hill restaurant last week, Greenspan admitted her life “sounds so glamorous”: she has homes in Paris, New York, and Connecticut, and frequently entertains friends in all three locations. Yet she said she gets the most visitors in Paris. Having friends over for dinner, even in what is arguably the world’s premiere city for eating out, is actually a very French thing to do, Greenspan explained. “Come home,” a Parisian might say to a friend when inviting her for dinner (not “come to my house” or simply “come over”).
Greenspan calls Around My French Table her “kitchen journal”; and classifies the recipes in it as “elbows-on-the-table food.” The food at the luncheon, prepared by chef Dan Barber, was “inspired” by the book; there was pea soup with mint and tiny edible flowers, and duck with peaches and pistachios. No elbows were seen on the tables in the elegant dining room off Washington Square Park. But try the gorgonzola-apple quiche on page 157; envision yourself enjoying a wedge of it alongside a mound of garlicky crumb-coated broccoli; and tear off a bite of a saint-germain-des-pres onion biscuit while you’re at it. Elbows on the table yet? As Greenspan said last week, “I’m going to be in Paris in two weeks--anybody coming to dinner?”
For more of PW's cookbook coverage, click here.