Elegant Everyday Eating
Paperback, 320 pages
Laura Calder is my favourite female chef in Canada. I loved her even before this book came out, her laid-back yet graceful manner in the kitchen and the way she manages to balance classical French cooking techniques with a seemingly nonchalant approach.
She hosts Food Network Canada's French Food at Home, which will soon be appearing on the new U.S. Cooking Channel.
As she glides through the kitchen, effortlessly creating French or French-inspired dishes, Laura Calder makes each dish seem so very do-able.
Her latest book, French Taste, is filled with beautiful and elegant dishes that are blissfully uncomplicated. Rather than just admire them in the book, you will be moved to create them in your own kitchen.
Here's what we created this week:
This light-as-air Vegetable Terrine seemed magical when I put it together. Made in a loaf pan and gently cradled by Swiss chard leaves, the mousse-like layers of cauliflower, pea, carrot and Parmesan purée create a delicate and delicious appetizer.
A personal favourite was the Pan Bagnat. Bagnat means bathed and indeed the sandwich is bathed in olive oil, red wine vinegar, and tomato juices. The combination of eggs, olives, tomatoes, onions and basil is totally delicious. We shared some with a neighbour who was under the weather, as I am sure a sandwich this flavourful must have curative properties.
A fun side was the Accordion Potatoes. The spuds were slice almost through, leaving a little joined at the bottom, rubbed with butter and olive oil and stuffed with herbs. Seasoned and roasted, they were perfect with a grilled dinner. Perfectly easy too.
One of hubby's all-time favourite meals is Laura's Mushroom Ravioles. A French entrée that is both simple and delicious. Large sheets of fresh pasta are cooked and layered with a sautéed mushroom mixture and drizzled with brown butter. What could be better than that? We liked it so much, we have made it twice now.
My son Elijah's birthday was the perfect occasion to try these Muddy Middle Chocolate Cakes. These are the classic molton cakes that have been popular for some time, but I had never tried them before. I love Laura's version as you make the batter well ahead of time, portion it into ramekins, and chill them until you wish to bake them. Perfect for party baking, you don't have to fuss while your guests are there.
Great for a wine and cheese party or even after a light meal, this Blue Cheese and Dried Fruit Terrine was a delicious success. I loved the nuts and dried fruits studded in the bold and creamy cheese base, such an elegant twist on a cheeseball-type affair. This would be perfect to take to a potluck cocktail party.
Having been a fan of Laura Calder's for some time now, I was not surprised to love her new book and the dishes I have tried. I am so happy for the U.S., that they will soon be able to watch her shows, and I hope this new Cooking Channel makes its way up to Canada as well.
If you would like to browse through French Taste, click here.