In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyard

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Jan 27, 2017 3:18 PM
French Country Cooking

French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyard, by Mimi Thorisson. Copyright © 2016 by Marie-France Thorisson. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Oddur Thorisson. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Our Summary:

Written with a romantic nod to the discovery of the remote French town in the Médoc and the home that eventually becomes the centerpiece of her family's life, Mimi Thorisson's French Country Cooking is for cooks and armchair travelers alike.  It's a vicarious look into a world where circumstance and food brings a community of personalities together.  People whom you feel as if you might already know, and food you know you've longed to taste.  With her gentle voice and easy style, cooking any of the 100 recipes from French Country Cooking makes it possible for a cook of any experience level to bring a little slice of the French countryside into their own kitchen - be it for the special hour (goûter) of snacking, a cocktail, a celebratory meal, and everything in between.

What you need to know:

Get it:  French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyard, by Mimi Thorisson. Photographs by Oddur Thorisson. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers Hardcover October 26, 2016, $40.00.  (Amazon $29.48; Kindle $19.99)

See it:  336 pages of chaptered stories filled with recipes including snacks, cocktails, family and staff meals, and desserts, to name a few.  Vivid photographs on almost every page capturing the food, family, friends, produce and completed recipes.

Make it:  100 simple but exquisite recipes ranging from chapters on starters to main courses; Sunday family suppers and staff meals, to side dishes and desserts.

Our Review:

If you've ever traveled the countryside - at home or abroad - and found yourself welcome at a table in a home kitchen, you're likely to know the experience offered by Mimi Thorisson and her second cookbook French Country Cooking.  When you find such a treasure, the food you are treated to might elude critical acclaim, but that's not to say it isn't delicious.  The meal is about the people that make it possible.  And here, in French Country Cooking chapter after delicious chapter invites you into Thorisson's experience.  Hers are the stories that bring these rustic, yet richly satisfying, recipes to life.

In French Country Cooking, your story begins celebrating the Medoc countryside village, St. Yzans, and the family that came to restore its old landmark inn.  Thorisson's first book, A Kitchen in France, is the family's story of their move out of bustling Paris and into the French countryside.  It's a story that's been captured in novel-cum-cookbooks many times over.  But in her new cookbook, Thorisson picks up with the family's decision to buy and restore a historic inn.  Like those before her, Thorisson tells a story about surprise and trust and obstacles and triumph.  She invites you to her simple but delicious corner of the Medoc and the vineyards that surround her in St. Yzans.  She delivers in recipe after recipe, an inviting taste of the marvels her remote countryside offers, in her home and around her French table.

The recipes you find in French Country Cooking though simple to cook from are tasty!  They are a collection from the inn's pop up restaurant and workshops, which means they are worthy of your best gathering.  Still, there's a homey feel to the elegance.  Dishes like Cassoulet, Mussels Stuffed with Sausage in Tomato Sauce, and Poulet Chasseur.  Thorisson's story, however, extends beyond the dinner table.  She shares her experience of family gatherings in her chapter on Sunday family suppers with Old Fashioned Summer Veal Roast, or invites you to glimpse the restaurant staff during meals with such plates as Kale and Sausage Pasta.  

You'll be disappointed if you miss the opportunity to cook Beignets with Apricot Filling just as you will her desserts, especially Salted Butter Chocolate Cake.  The hardest decision you will have with French Country Cooking is whether to start cooking from it in the beginning, middle, or end.  And, that is what makes this cookbook so endearing.  Thorisson's voice is gentle and inviting, as you will imagine is her inn.  She talks you through her recipes not so much with strong, clear details, but rather encouraging you to trust in the ingredients and the journey toward the outcome.  However it appears on the table will be how it was intended.  And that is the essence of her story, translated into delicious food.

The Recipes (Reprinted with permission from French Country Cooking. Copyright © 2016 by Marie-France Thorisson. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Oddur Thorisson. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.):

Pumpkin Quiche with Bacon

Poulet Chasseur

Plantias Tarte Tatin

Published in Donna Marie Desfor

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