FOOD AND WINE PAIRINGS IN FRENCH COOKING
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
The French Menu Cookbook
(Ten Speed Press) ISBN 978-1607740025 1607740028
Learn about matching wine to food in seasonal menus in this French cookbook. Richard Olney provides French cooking lessons, which include menu planning, recipes for seasonal food and advice on wine and food pairings. His French menus feature recipes for everyday meals as well as formal dinners.
Cooking French food
Each chapter begins with menus that specify food and wine pairings for formal dinners and informal meals. A discussion of seasonal French foods (e.g., truffles and venison in autumn) follows.
Richard Olney introduces each recipe, with cooking tips and advice on cooking substitutes. For example, in his recipe for ravioli of chicken breasts, he suggests substituting finely chopped truffle peelings for the fines herbes.
Each recipe uses Imperial ingredient measures and provides detailed instructions on preparation and decoration. The French Menu Cookbook features both simple recipes, like artichoke puree and more complex recipes, like crayfish salad with fresh dill.
Chef Olney includes translations for French dish names (e.g., pot au feu translates as boiled beef with vegetables).
Pairing food and wine
Food and wine pairings often give the rationale behind wine recommendations. For example, Richard Olney suggests a white Burgundy that is old enough (five to six years) for bouquet to begin replacing fruit to accompany his turban of sole fillets recipe.
The French Menu Cookbook has no photos. Illustrations by Gosta Viertel depict cooking equipment, including a fish cooker and cast iron enamelware.
Information about French wine
The introduction to the 447-page cookbook features a chapter on French wine, with information on how long to age French wines, how long to cool white wines (two hours in the fridge or a half-hour in the freezer) and what to do with sediment in bottles of wine. Richard Olney also describes French wine regions and how to read labels on bottles of French wines.
The French Menu Cookbook has a chapter on Shopping Sources, which explains where you can buy fresh truffles, copperware, portable turnspits and herbs, like angelica.
The Basic Preparations chapter includes recipes (e.g., aromatic vinegar, tuiles) used in the French cookbook, as well as cooking techniques, like how to use a drum sieve.
Sample French recipes
Sweet potato puree. Apple mousse with peaches. Fresh figs with raspberry cream. Grilled pepper salad. Lamb stew with artichoke hearts. Scrambled eggs with fresh truffles. Cream of artichoke soup with hazelnuts. Rum sherbet. Terrine of sole fillets. Celeriac in mustard sauce. Shrimp quiche. Chicken in red wine. Gratin of potatoes. Apple tart. Warm asparagus vinaigrette. Cauliflower loaf. Apricot fritters.
Contents of The French Menu Cookbook
- French Food and Menus Composition
- French Wine
- Kitchen Layout and Equipment
- Shopping Sources
- Basic Preparation
- Two Formal Autumn Dinners
- Two Informal Autumn Dinners
- A Festive Autumn Meal for Two
- Four Simple Autumn Menus
- A Note on Truffles
- Two Elegant Winter Suppers
- An Elaborate Formal Dinner Party
- Two Informal Winter Dinners
- Three Simple Winter Menus
- Two Formal Spring Dinners
- Two Informal Spring Dinners
- Four Simple Spring Menus
- Two Elegant Summer Dinners
- A Semi-formal Summer Dinner
- Four Simple Summer Luncheons à la Provençale
The French Menu Cookbook author
Richard Olney wrote several French cookbooks, including Simple French Food and Lulu's Provencal Table.