A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse by Mimi Thorrisson
This book is huge and absolutely gorgeous. It took me at least 3 times of flipping through it to actually look at the recipes because of all the stunning photographs. This would be a book you could leave out and people would happily flip through. The food is gorgeous, the land and flowers and people are all stunning. The recipes are divided by season and all have warm and friendly little stories about them and why they're special.
I really really wanted to love this book. I wanted this book to be one I turn to regularly and is thumbed through and stained due to repeated use. I wanted the food to be as glorious as it looks and sounds. But it wasn't. I really tried. I tagged all the recipes that looked good and like my family would eat them (the recipe calling for Veal Sweetbreads didn't make the cut) and there was a pretty decent number of recipes and a good variety. And so I got to cooking. First there was the Potatoes a la Lyonnaise which were decent but a huge amount of work. Then their was the Potato Pie with Comte Cheese. This one smelled divine but the crust was like a cracker and there wasn't enough cook time in the world to actually cook the potatoes through. Then there was the Garlic Soup. At this point J is starting to nervously ask me if the meal comes out of "that book".I actually liked the garlic soup and J liked the flavor but the little strands of egg whites were a bit too much of him. The Coq au Vin was the final straw. I'm a fairly experienced cook and can do some relatively complicated techniques. I was all right with this one being complicated and time consuming but I"m not all right with it being incomplete. The ingredients for the broth are completely missing in the ingredient list so I'm guessing on quantities. What is there is confusing. In one step it tells you to strain the marinade reserving the liquid and then a few steps down talks about using the solids from the marinade which if I hadn't read the entire recipe through multiple times I probably would've tossed. This isn't the only step like this. I've read the recipe through multiple times and I'm still not 100% sure what's going to happen next. At this point I don't care if it's the most amazing mouthful ever I most likely won't be remaking it.
Verdict: If I keep it it will be as a coffee table book not as a cookbook.
*Side note - I did find the ingredient list for the broth. It was on the other page. However, I just spent 24 hours on a dish that was merely okay so I'm not feeling much more enthusiastic about the book.
On the positive side here's the recipe for the Garlic Soup which was pretty tasty. If the egg white texture freaks you out like it did my husband I think you could easily leave it out.
2 T duck fat or Olive Oil (I used olive oil)
1 onion, finely diced
1 whole head of garlic plus 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 T flour
5 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 T olive oil
2 eggs, separated
1 T sherry vinegar (I think I used white wine vinegar)
In a large pot, heat the fat/oil over medium heat. Cook the onion for 2 minutes. Add the sliced head of garlic and cook until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir well, then pour in the chicken stock and bring to a low boil. Season with salt and pepper, add the thyme sprigs, lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Fry the remaining sliced garlic until golden and slightly crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel. (I skipped this step. It wasn't that kind of day)
Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Return the soup to the pot and set over medium heat. (I used my immersion blender in the pot. Worked perfectly)
Beat the egg whites in a small bowl and then drizzle, whisking constantly into the soup. You should see thin strands of egg white form in the soup; immediately remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks with the vinegar in a small bowl, then slowly add a little of the soup whisking constantly. Add the egg yolk mixture to the soup again whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (I think you could leave the egg white step out without issue if the idea scares you)
Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with fried garlic and drizzle with a few drops of olive oil, if desired.
This was an interesting and unusual soup that was pretty simple to make. I will probably make this one again though I'll leave out the egg whites.
I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads