Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Top Three Provence Cookbooks

Guests at my Cuisine de Provence cooking classes often ask me to tell them about my favorite Provençal cookbooks. Although I am a self confessed cookbook junkie, the books I turn to again and again when checking out Provençal specialities have stayed the same throughout the years.
My alltime favorite is Gui Gedda's "Cooking School of Provence"

Written by a true Provençal chef and beautifully illustrated, this book covers all the Provence classics from Aïoli, Bouillabaisse and its Rouille, Ratatouille, Pan Bagna, Tapenade and Anchoiade but also includes some French Classics such as the Poule au Pot, Lapin Chasseur or a Tarte Tatin.
Very useful: the glossary where you find explanations for what I call "kitchen latin" such as "écumoire" - a flat perforated spoon used for skimming foam from cooking liquids. Or did you know that a "beurre composé" is a butter mixed with herbs, anchovies or other aromatics? And if ever the urge strikes you to prepare "ketchup à la provençale" - this is where to find the recipe!

Patricia Well's "Provence Cookbook"

I bought after I had seen it displayed at my local cheesemonger's. Patricia Wells, the famous doyenne of cooking class instructors, had of course included Josianne Déal in her book, just as Vaison la Romaine's butcher, the fishmonger and truffle king, the honey vendor and best restaurant chef are featured. Although this book came out 10 years ago and needs some updating as far as the people featured or adresses go the recipes stand the test of time. Very often authentic homecooking recipes of friends of Patricia Wells these are simple and delicious true Provençal dishes prepared with love and the sundrenched produce of Provence. You also get stories of everyday life and the histroy of Provence and I bet your copy with soon look as dogeared and well thumped as mine!

Alex Mackay's Cooking in Provence

After having cooked at Britain's most famous French restaurant, the "Manoir aux Quat'Saisons", Alex Mackay ran a Provence cooking school - sadly now closed, because the chef went on to even greater things and now teaches in Britain. This book, where he tells the story of his school is dotted with the most succulent recipes. Zucchini flowers stuffed with tomatoes, roasted pigeons with ceps or orange and chocolate tart, anyone? Mackay teaches you how to stock a Provençal pantry, tells you about the hunt, the harvest and the winter in Provence and tempts you to recreate your very own little Provence with beautiful photos of our little corner of the world. This is probably the most beautiful book of my favorite Provençal cookbooks - it makes me want to try each and every recipe and a lot I already have!

Friday, January 9, 2015

I am Charlie, you are Charlie, we all are Charlie

A heartfelt thank you to all my wonderful Cuisine de Provence guests who sent very moving messages of support during these trying times in France. All of you said: We are Charlie!
Last night we took part in a silent march through Vaison la Romaine.
I am proud of my town and happy to see how many, regardless of their faith, political conviction or nationality took part.