Side Dish: Cookbook a family affair for Pépins _lowres



“Kids Cook French Les Enfants Cuisinent à la Française” by Claudine Pépin

Quarry Books, $21.99

96-page hardcover

Croque-monsieur, ratatouille, crème brûlée, quiche, Salad Niçoise and crêpes — some of the dishes Americans think of when discussing French food plus many more are included in Claudine Pépin’s cookbook for children.

“Kids Cook French Les Enfants Cuisinent à la Française” is a fun cookbook geared for both parents and school-age children. Since it is written in both English and French, kids might not only learn how to cook, but also a bit of French, too. It is illustrated with full-color drawings by Pépin’s father, renown chef Jacques Pépin, but includes no photographs of completed dishes.

Claudine Pépin notes that while her father and her husband are chefs, she is a home cook who doesn’t cook kids’ food. “I just cook good, fresh food. … The idea of ‘kid food’ disturbs me. It’s fine to make a dish simpler or less spicy when kids are going to eat it, but we can not decide what they will like and what they won’t. … Growing up, I was always given the same food that my parents and their friends were having, albeit I might have eaten earlier and a smaller portion.”

She says while many of the recipes in her book have French names, they are relatable to American recipes and are the simple, classic dishes she ate growing up and that she cooks for her family today.

The book has plenty of cooking tips and includes recipes for starters, main dishes, sides and desserts, plus suggestions for seasonal menus.

This is a cookbook sure to please a young Francophone and future chef.

Cookbook signing

Dale Curry will be signing copies of her cookbook “Gumbo: A Savor the South cookbook” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in uptown New Orleans.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is

Spinach With Béchamel

Serves 4. Recipe is from “Kids Cook French” by Claudine Pépin, who writes, “This was my first recipe, and it was by accident. I was about 11 years old and doing a photo shoot for House Beautiful with my father (chef Jacques Pépin), of course, and we were making this recipe. I put the raw spinach in the béchamel, which was not the way it is done, and it turned out great! Now, it is how it’s done!”

1 (12-ounce) bag prewashed spinach (young is okay, but not baby spinach)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

10 ounces milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Pinch nutmeg

1. Pull any heavy stems from the spinach leaves and wash the leaves, if necessary.

2. In a medium (8-quart) sauce pot with a lid, melt the butter on medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

3. Add the spinach into the béchamel and cover. Stir occasionally, turning the spinach over to coat the leaves. When all the spinach is wilted, remove the cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to reach a thick consistency that will hold its shape on the plate.


Makes 24 (2-inch) round cookies. Recipe is from “Kids Cook French” by Claudine Pépin, who writes, “These little cookies are a French version of a sugar cookie and are simple and delicious. They are perfect for everyone to decorate and can be topped with your favorite jam or even dipped in dark chocolate.”

1 cup all-purpose flour

1?8 teaspoon kosher salt

5 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but not melted, plus more if not using a nonstick cookie sheet

2 egg yolks

1. Heat the oven to 325 F.

2. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a medium mixing bowl.

3. Add the softened butter and rub it into the flour mixture with your hands.

4. Stir in the egg yolks.

5. Knead the dough until blended completely.

6. Roll the dough into a 2-inch diameter log. Cut into ¼-inch-thick slices. Arrange on a nonstick or buttered cookie sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom.