In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Aug 7, 2017 8:00 AM
Lost Kitchen.jpg

Copyright © 2017 by Erin French. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Nicole Franzen. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Our Summary:

The Lost Kitchen is more than a cookbook.  Its part memoir, part kitchen handbook, and part motivational yes-you-can-do attitude adjustment.  With 100 recipes that are easily made from common ingredients, restaurant chef Erin French manages to translate her spectacular food into recipes that anyone can make.  In an ocean of farm-to-table, chef-authored cookbooks, it's refreshing to find one that works as well in a kitchen in Maine, as it does in Idaho...or Oklahoma...and even California.   

What you need to know:

Buy it:  The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine, Copyright © 2017 by Erin French.  Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, May 9, 2017.  Hardcover $32.50 (Amazon $19.44; Kindle $16.99)

See it:  256 pages with simple color photographs of some of the finished recipes, plus photos of the restaurant throughout the season and candids of the restaurant and chef in action.

Make it:  100 recipes divide through 4 chapters named after each season; each chapter is broken down into starters, mains, and sweets.  Chapters are peppered with informational essays on ingredients, crafting, foraging and managing your kitchen larder.

Our Review:

There are no surprises hidden between the covers of The Lost Kitchen.  Inside there are recipes segmented by season and then by course, and in between are primers and information on managing your kitchen, your ingredients and understanding seasonal produce.  The recipes are basic and easy to follow and produce delicious results.  What is surprising about Erin French's first book is that it's also a memoir of a well- and hard- lived life.  A story each one of us might have written had we a chance. 

Spectacularly warming, French's story unfolds in The Lost Kitchen through her recipes that are as approachable as a grandmother's handwritten collection.  They are written for the seasons, though we live in a season-less food culture.  Better still, she makes you want to wait for the right time to make dishes like Graham Cracker Pie (spring), or Maine Halibut Nicoise (summer), or Sweet and Sour Apple Cider Chicken Wings with Cilantro (fall) and Tea-brined Duck Breast with Fried Potato and Warm Lentil Salad.  She has you foraging roadside, or crafting in your kitchen.  She makes you believe that you too, had you taken to the road when all hope was lost, would be the dream you let drift away. 

The recipes in The Lost Kitchen resonate with ingredients you can find without the aid of temperate farmers markets or a spectacular big city purveyor.  You can easily make an entire menu in an afternoon or throughout a week, and find yourself happy with both results.  There are starters and mains and sweets for each season, with tips on how to cook them - be it on a grill or in a cast-iron skillet.  There's Maple & Candied Walnut Ice Cream Sundae and Fried Green Tomatoes

The Lost Kitchen is exactly what you want to find when you walk into your own home kitchen.  Ideas and recipes that let you cook like a chef, even though you are not.  Yet.  

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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