Every time another padded envelope containing yet another cookbook arrives Ed always asks me why I need another cookbook. My usual response is that I do not need one, but I like them, read them instead of fiction and find them inspiring. I then point out that he subscribes to at least 4 sailing magazines, and often buys more – I think 5 French ones were purchased last week too.
However, it has to be said that the review pile is getting a little unsteady, and the backlog is making me feel guilty, so I am saying no more, at least until I catch up with myself. After all a new book should be a pleasure, not a potential chore, which is how I often feel.
I have other French cookbooks, French Country Cooking and Elizabeth David, both of which I love, they are classics and great reference books.
French Brasserie feels somewhat more modern, lighter and simpler (and less calorific) than these classic French works. Daniel Galmiche has lifted and reworked many classic brasserie dishes to work well in the British home kitchen.
Containing 100 recipes, the book is divided into chapters featuring basics, meats, fish and shellfish, vegetarian, side dishes & salads and desserts. The majority of recipes have a full page photograph. The photos are bright clear and concentrate on the food without fussy styling. Most recipes have an introduction telling of Daniel’s inspirations, memories of the dish and why some of the ingredients are used.
Recipes are unfussy, not needing specialist ingredients or equipment, although some are slow cooked the hands on time is quite short. My usual benchmark for how attainable is a recipe or book for the average home cook is to ask myself if Ed could cook the dish without asking me a question, or taking that much longer than I would (or creating much more mess). Undoubtably he could make everything in the book easily.
Recipes that caught my eye are the pork steaks in a mustard and gherkin sauce below – cooked when a friend came for dinner. Delicious, the gherkins cut through the creamy sauce making it far less rich, I have made a variation on it several times. The fruit parcels in filo were also delicious, given a twist with star anise and black pepper.
I am looking forward to trying the cassoulet, duck rillettes and lime risotto.
Great for everyday suppers and for dinner parties. Daniel was also very helpful on Twitter when I could not decide where to start with the book.
French Brasserie is published by Duncan Baird, £20
Fuss Free Star Rating ****
The acidity of the gherkins cuts through the rich cream sauce to result in a beautifully balanced dish.
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 4 pork collar steaks about 150g (5.5 oz) each
- 30 g butter (1 oz)
- 80 ml single cream (1/3 cup)
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 sprig tarragon
- 4 small gherkins halved and sliced into strips
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F/gas 1. Warm the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the steaks and cook for 3–4 minutes on each side until golden brown, adding the butter when you turn them over.
Remove from the pan and keep warm in the oven. Add 4 tablespoons water to the pan to deglaze. You should end up with a pale golden liquid. Bring to a simmer over a low heat and slowly stir in the cream and mustard. Add the tarragon and gherkins and season with salt and pepper.
Divide the steaks onto four plates, pour the sauce over and serve immediately with creamed mashed potatoes – perfect for soaking up the sauce.
From French Brasserie Cookbook by Daniel Galmiche © Commissioned Photography by Yuki Sugiura / Duncan Baird Publisher
Thank you to DBP for my review copy.