We miss French food, there used to be more of it in Los Angeles at all price points, but now it seems to have fallen out of favor and we can’t understand why. Susan Herrmann Loomis, the author of In A French Kitchen, believes it may be that people think French is too heavy or not healthy and she says that is not the case at all and then proves it with her latest cookbook. Her story filled read explains French cuisine and why it’s so remarkable, while sharing the dishes she loves.
Our introduction to her book began with herb infused ice water, always a restorative libation that we keep forgetting is easy and elegant. We are up for making this traditional drink a regular part of our lives, thank you Ms. Loomis for the reminder.
Rosemary, lavender, basil, lemon, orange, cucumber, almost any combination, of fruit, herbs or vegetables will work.
We like simple and Susan introduces a delightful appetizer of breakfast radishes sprinkled with salt then placed atop french baguette slices slather with thick layers of butter.
And not just any salt, but Fleur de Sel Guerande, a mineral heavy, grey salt that Susan finds superlative. Based on how wonderful the radish appetizer is, we have to agree with her.
The melon salad with shallot vinaigrette (page 93), combines sweet and savory in the most refreshing of ways. The citrus, mint, shallots and freshly ground Szechuan peppercorns give the juicy sweet fruit something to play off. We could eat this salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner all summer long.
Mushrooms with chorizo (page 290) is another uncomplicated dish, requiring only that the mushroom cups be filled with Spanish chorizo, cracked pepper and herbs of your choice. They are baked in the oven for about 5 minutes or until hot throughout. Easy, attractive platters fly out the kitchen almost by themselves.
Braised broccoli (page 76) takes advantage of the vibrant color and flavor of the cruciferous gem by honoring its natural character with onion, garlic and herbs.
Sausages with tomatoes and golden rice (page 42) create a hearty dish that allows the spice of the sausages to incorporate with the tomato, onion and spices, the perfect match for turmeric scented basmati rice.
Susan informs us that every meal she has in France, which has been her home for two decades, ends with a big green salad and we were regaled with simple greens lightly tossed with classic vinaigrette (page 96). The perfect ending to a healthy, well balanced and delicious dinner.
Of course we had to partake in her sweet pie pastry (page 208) filled with raspberries and creme. The rich pastry shell is a wonderful base for the sweet-tart berries and the thick yellow creme which come together to form a sweet, tart, creamy, cookie crumble reminiscent fruit tart.
Thank you Susan for reminding us that French food can be healthy, makes the best use of seasonal produce and celebrates the flavors of the French countryside that we can all relate to even if we’ve never set foot in your beautiful village. Until Los Angeles expands her French offerings we are happy to use your guidance to indulge in some time honored French principles from the kitchen.
In A French Kitchen by Susan Herrmann Loomis is now avaialbe through Amazon.
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