Side Dish: Cookbook transports readers to France _lowres

 

“A Kitchen in France:

A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse”

by Mimi Thorisson

Clarkson Potter/Publishers, $40

304-page hardcover

HHH

After seeing a couple of recipes using fresh strawberries in a beautiful cookbook by French food blogger Mimi Thorisson, I wanted to try them. And, what a perfect time to do so. Louisiana strawberry growers are now showing up at local farmers markets with plenty of bright red, sweet smelling berries.

Reading “A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse” by Thorisson is the next-best thing to actually being in France. Thorisson transports the reader to France as she writes about moving from Paris with her photographer husband, their children and dogs to a small town in the out-of-the-way Médoc region.

A “city girl,” she found their move from Paris to the remote Médoc “a bit of a shock,” she writes. But, now she founds she is more aware of the changing of the seasons, she grows her own vegetables, and has made friends with local winemakers, snail farmers and hunters.

“In France, when it comes to food, there is a right way to do everything — but everyone’s right way is not the same,” she says, and “seasonal cooking is one of life’s greatest joys; it may present a challenge, but the rewards are ample.”

Thorisson, who is also the author of “Manger,” a blog about French home cooking written in English, and the star of two French cooking shows, divides her book by seasons, beginning with spring. Each season has recipes for starters, main courses and desserts.

The book is lovely — it’s gorgeously photographed by Thorisson’s husband, Oddur Thorisson — and makes for great armchair traveling. But, Louisiana readers might find some of its recipes rather expensive to make or ingredients difficult to find. Among the recipes are Lobster With Jura Wine Sauce, Parisian Sole, Duck Confit Parmentier, Black Locust Flower Fritters, Almond Mussels, Langoustines With Armagnac, Escargots à la Bordelaise, Seared Foie Gras With Grapes and Figs, and Chestnut Velouté.

One simple recipe, Bugnes With Orange Flower Water, results in little confectioners’ sugar-covered fritters that seem similar to Louisiana’s beignets. Mimi Thorisson says they are traditionally made in France in February and March during Mardi Gras season.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is csonnier@ theadvocate.com. Strawberries in Wine With Mascarpone Cream

Serves 6. Reprinted from “A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse.” © 2014 by Mimi Thorisson. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

33/4 to 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered, depending on size

1 cup dry red wine, preferably a Bordeaux

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup mascarpone

2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved

2 to 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3

1. Put the strawberries in a large bowl and pour the wine over them. Sprinkle in the granulated sugar and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 12 hours.

2. Just before serving, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, mascarpone, vanilla seeds, and confectioners’ sugar to taste until stiff peaks form.

3. Spoon a generous amount of the whipped cream into each dessert bowl or ramekin. Top with the strawberries and wine sauce.