The prospect of “French cooking” brings many of us out in a cold sweat. It’s the thought of a sauce with 27 stages and pastry that takes a week to prepare that sends us into a tizzy. Who has time, and who needs to eat a kilo of butter at each meal; and then there is the cream. But that is just a particular type of French cooking, that perpetuates the myth that it’s all about rich cheffiness. There is another sort of French cooking that more nearly reflects French home cooking and it’s growing in popularity. Its about French Brasserie Cookbook cooking!
A brasserie offers traditional food but the sort that would have been made in French homes: fresh and seasonal produce treated with respect. The cooking methods don’t demand that the domestic cook have a diploma from the Cordon Bleu. A French kitchen is just as humble as yours – gadgets from IKEA and shelves garnished with stock cubes and even lentils in tins. Mon dieu!
Daniel Galmiche is the author of French Brasserie Cookbook and is a French chef in Britain. He has a wealth of family recipes that translate into brasserie-style dishes, as well as classic brasserie fare from across France. There are the ubiquitous Croque Monsieur and the dolled-up Croque Madame, which constitutes a meal in itself. Everything to make a Francophile’s heart beat faster.
Duck Rillettes is a favourite spread and it’s delicious and comforting. It makes an ideal snack when served with just a crusty baguette. A little jar of this is perfect to tote on a picnic, but served with Melba toast this becomes a tempting starter for a smart dinner party that has the advantage of being made in advance of the event.
Toulouse Cassoulet has become popular, not just in the south of France from whence it came, but across the country, and it’s now reached these shores. It’s a hearty but economic dish and a real winter warmer. Garlicky Toulouse sausages are the essential element along with the white haricot beans. Just a couple glasses of good red wine and some French bread, and an authentic French meal can be enjoyed by family and friends without breaking the bank.
Reviewer cannot live by main course alone, and I think that Raspberry Clafoutis represents the essence of brasserie menus: a traditional pudding that is found in casual restaurants as well as homes across France. Its name sounds convincingly Gallic but consider a Yorkshire pudding with fruit and you will have the idea. A simple dessert to make, and it’s versatile, as the fruits used can be changed with the seasons.
Daniel Galmiche is a familiar face on our TVs and it seems he also has a talent for choosing recipes that will appeal to the British audience. French Brasserie Cookbook has lots of dishes that you will have enjoyed when on holiday, and perhaps a few that will become regulars chez vous. A gift-quality book, and nothing too challenging even for a novice.
French Brasserie Cookbook – The heart of French home cooking
Author: Daniel Galmiche
Published by: Duncan Baird Publishers
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018