cover image Patricia Wells at Home in Provence: Recipes Inspired by Her Farmhouse in France

Patricia Wells at Home in Provence: Recipes Inspired by Her Farmhouse in France

Patricia Wells / Author, Robert Freson / Photographer Scribner

Patricia Wells. Scribner, $40 (352p) ISBN 0-684-81569-9 Relaxed and unfailingly enticing, this superb collection of 175 recipes will make readers feel as comfortable in their kitchens as its accomplished author is at Chanteduc, her 18th-century farmhouse in northern Provence. Wells (Bistro Cooking; Simply French) is not the first to underscore the appeal of simple, fresh food, but she coaxes new tiers of flavor from many of the dishes here by her creative arrangements of basic ingredients. Instead of the standard cherry clafoutis, for example, she offers Tomato Clafoutis as appetizer or Chanteduc Clafoutis, made with mixed fruits, for dessert. Herb-Cured Filet of Beef Carpaccio, in which the filet, wrapped for two days in tarragon, parsley, basil, thyme and salt, attains a savory goodness with surprising ease. The True Salad Fan's Salad, composed of finely chopped tops of very young root vegetables (carrot, radish, beet, celery, etc.) with vinaigrette, and Garlic Family Soup (with leeks, onions, shallots and a head of garlic) fairly vibrate with an abundance of flavor. Catalan Tuna Daube marries anchovies, capers, onion, lemon zest, tomatoes and cubes of tuna steak in a memorable union. La Broufade is another outstanding daube, but with beef simmered in white wine instead of the usual red. Wells is sensible in her use of oils and fats, calling, for example, for whole milk and cream in judicious amounts. The diner's delight flows from the wisely prepared ingredients; the cook gets the added pleasure of reading Wells's warm, intelligent prose--and serving up excellence. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)