Those of us with a penchant for reading food blogs are likely familiar with Clotilde Dusoulier and her long-running blog, Chocolate and Zucchini. Created in 2003, it's a light and lively potpourri of recipes and stories with a Parisian bent. As her blog has progressed, she has shifted her cooking style from classic, meat-centric French to vegetable-focused, seasonal cuisine. This change in diet is the focus of her new cookbook, The French Market Cookbook.
At first glance, Dusoulier's book looks much like the many other vegetarian cookbooks released this year. It's organized by seasons, with a focus on environmental health, and is designed with a feminine touch. Yes, there are a few unique shopping tips scattered here and there (she emphasizes shopping with an eye toward "sturdiness" in addition to seasonality, for example), but these ideas are generally common sense. What really makes this book special—and justifies finding space on the shelf for yet another vegetable cookbook—is the fact that the recipes are unabashedly French.
It is rare these days to see a cool French cookbook. There are plenty of Italian, Middle-Eastern, and Southeast Asian books flooding Amazon cues. And there are even more American restaurant cookbooks imploring home cooks to get out to a famers market, stat. But when was the last time you picked up a new cookbook peppered with inventive recipes for gratins, clafoutis, mousses, and quiches?
To be sure, The French Market Cookbook is not a heavy-handed cheese-filled book. Many of the dishes go light on the dairy, but even the rich ones are full of bold flavors and bright colors. Gougères are laced with parsley and cumin, curried leeks are caramelized under puff pastry for a Savory Tarte Tatin, and a cauliflower Gratin is enlivened with turmeric and hazelnuts. Recipes like Poor-Man's Bouillabaisse substitute silky poached eggs for the seafood, but their creaminess makes for a comforting dish even without the fish. Seaweed tartare is another example of a French classic transformed—it's far different from beef of course, but makes for an umami-bomb of an appetizer, especially when served atop seed-filled crackers and drizzled with a little extra sesame oil.
We'll try this seaweed tartare today before delving into an array of summery French meals. We'll make a Raw Zucchini Tart with Apricot Compote and chickpea crust and then bake even more summer squash into a beautiful Ratatouille Tian. Next, we'll make use of bitter green radish tops in an easy pasta dish. Finally we'll toss together a nutty Green Bean and Red Rice Salad with a rich almond butter dressing.
Win 'The French Market Cookbook'Thanks to the nice folks over at Clarkson Potter, we have five (5) copies of The French Market Cookbook to give away this week. All you need to do for a chance to win is tell us about your favorite vegetarian meal in the comments section below.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.