on 13 April 2007
this is 'Flavours of Provence - recipes from the south of France'........
and, for me, memories truly revisited!
'Provence, in southern France is a region of outstanding natural beauty. Its sunshine, luscious produce, nut and olive groves, picturesque hill towns and excellent wines have attracted and enthralled visitors for many centuries.
Travellers, cooks and gourmands curious to discover the real Provençal table will welcome Clare Ferguson's authentic recipes and fascinating essays on the region's unique produce and culinary traditions.'
A super book packed full of information from this popular region.
The on-location photography is simply breath-taking and it is easy to forgive the lack of finished 'dish recipes' for this very reason.
The dishes which are photographed are, well.... siply mouth-watering, e.g. 'Herbed Ceps with Brandy' on page 55, 'Scented Fruit Jelly' on page 136 and 'Marzipan Loaf in the Arles Style' on page 139!
The author shares her extensive knowledge with additional notes on the selecting and purchasing of ingredients, e.g.:-
'The wild mushroom season creates much excitement throughout Provence, but especially in the northern reaches of the Var.
The mushrooms, which include many boletus varieties, are often packed on pine needles for the trip to market.
When buying, check that the caps and stems, when cut open, are worm-free (or relatively so), that the aroma is fresh and sweet and the surface dense, but not damp........'
and geographical notes, e.g.:-
'Just south of Arles, the river Rhône splits in two: held in the 'embrace' of these twin waterways is the area known as 'Petite Carmargue' - a region of plains, dunes, rice paddies and reed-fringed swamps.
Here are found pink flamingos, white herons, white horses, black bulls and 'gardians' (the cow-boys who tend them).
Sinti and Roma (gypsy) people gather yearly in nearby Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, and event now world famous.
This beef stew echoes that fascinating locale.'
This knowledge precedes the recipe for 'Cowboy Beef Stew'.
Stunning cover, with different but equally enticing picture on the dust-jacket, opens to 160 pages high quality, shiny pages, spilt over 2 main sections:-
(1) The ingredients (the informative opening pages for each of the recipe chapters):-
Olives, walnuts and their oils
Market gardens (includes a seasonal guide to availability)
Provençal herbs, garlic and spices
Provençal fish and seafood
Provençal meat, game and poultry
Sweet confections and their rituals
Provençal sheep's and goat's milk cheeses
The wines of Provence
(2) The recipes
Starters and nibbles
Salads, vegetables and grains
Soups, seafood and lunch dishes
Poultry, meat and game
Sweet things and cheese
Preserves, drinks and treats
sandwiched between an introduction, entitled - 'The Flavours of Provence' and a full index.
Each recipe is clearly laid out with titles in both English and French, followed by a short paragraph of relevant information, e.g.:-
From 'Roasted two-pepper salad':-
'Sweet peppers abound in France.
They come in all shapes and sizes (often wildly irregular), and many colours, including pale green, emerald green, orange, red, yellow, tiger-striped and purple-black.
When char-grilled and eaten with country bread rubbed with garlic and herbs, they're simply heavenly.'
along with a list of ingredients, the method and the recommended 'To drink' - in this case New World Rosé or an off-dry Zinfandel.
A taste of the other recipes contained within:-
Stuffed Baby Vegetables
Tiny liver pates in pots
Pan-cooked red mullet
Provençal fish soup with `rust` sauce
Chicken sauté Provence-style
Quails with figs
Shoulder of lamb with mountain herbs
Classic Provençal beef daube with pasta
Veal parcels in lemon sauce
Peaches in rose syrup
White nougat ice cream
Crispy pastry shapes
Lemon verbena tea
This magical book is completed with an emerald green ribbon marker to keep your place, if you can bear to put it down for long enough!
on 30 January 2016
I have more books on Provence that I care to admit, but few I use as often than this. Clare Ferguson covers all the much-loved classics - Provencal beef daube, beggar's caviar, pissaladière, fougasse & so on, but there are also lots of lesser known dishes like squid pasties from Sète, Camargue red rice salad and black jam made with aubergines and plums. You can't fault the recipes, they work every time, and I find myself going back again and again to the tuna spread, Provencal tomatoes, aubergine, onion & courgette stew, Sisteron lamb as well as orange wine, melon conserve and the potted cheese paste with marc. And yes, the photos are to die for.
A great selection of recipes drawn from Provencal cuisine - olive oil, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, seafood & fish, cepes, wild boar & more. Each chapter begins with a description of ingredients. For example, the chapter on salads & vegetables begins with market gardening, season by season. This is then followed by the recipes - in the same chapter this includes herbed cepes with brandy; stuffed baby vegetables; aubergine, onion & courgettes stew. The chapter covering meat includes chicken (a particularly good but easy chicken saute provencale), quails, lamb, beef, wild boar, rabbit, veal & venison. The fish chapter includes sea bass, salt cod, tuna, sardines and includes recipes for the usual southern French staples such as bouillabaise & bourride. There is also a final chapter on desserts & cheese. Many of the desserts are fruit-based (peaches in rose syrup, praline-dressed figs with ricotta). Others include sabayon, lemon tarts & unusual lavender creams with scented syrup. I haven't tried the latter but it sounds lovely. There is also a fabulous white nougat ice cream.
One nice touch is that at the end of each recipe there is a suggestion for wine, etc to accompany - the wines are not confined to those of Provence but range all over the world.
I would also mention that the photography is gorgeous. I am not normally bothered about photos in cook books and even less bothered about photos which don't show the final dish. This book includes high quality photos of most, if not all, recipes but also more general photos redolent of the south of France. I like cooking & love France so this works for me on two levels: this is one of those books that gives pleasure even if you don't cook from it. I have a number of books on provencal cooking but this is probably the best.