Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

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Souffles Rising

Cookbook Review and Giveaway

It seems everyone who loves to cook or eat, particularly French cooking or eating, has a souffle story. Some are happy, some are rather sad. I have my share of both. But for Greg Patent, author of The French Cook – Souffles (Gibbs Smith, March 1, 2014),  most of his life has been a souffle love story. And, it began with the French Chef herself, Julia Child. Already a talented baker under the guiding hand of his Granny who mesmerized him whipping egg whites with a fork during in his “first childhood” in Shanghai, Julia later seduced him with her balloon whisk, copper bowl, and stunning souffles.

Patent, who travels to cooking demos with his own copper bowl and balloon whisk, expertly details all of the elements of making both sweet and savory souffles in this beautiful book (photography by Kelly Gorham). His writing is concise, detailed, and at times almost scientific in describing the how-to’s of making souffles puff. His passion for cooking, baking and souffles comes through in every syllable. At times, it’s as if you can practically hear his soothing “voice” in your ear, building your souffle-making confidence all along the way.

Patent begins the book with an excellent series of descriptions of the four types of souffle bases (bechamel, veloute, bouille, or fruit/vegetable puree), and especially helpful lessons on mounting egg whites, folding, breaking egg whites, the debate over fresh or older egg whites, finally confessing in his down-to-earth manner, “I tend not to fret over the freshness of egg whites in making a souffle.” Beyond the base and the whites, the bottom line is timing. As Patent wittily states, “You must wait for them (souffles); they won’t wait for you.”

If you’re like me, you won’t be able to wait to make the likes of Green Garlic Souffles, Crab & Morel Mushroom Souffles, Meyer Lemon Souffles, and Cold Passion Fruit Souffles. Patent includes all kinds of wonderful derivatives from a standard souffle, including a souffle stuffed crepe, souffle roulade, and frozen souffles, as well as several sauce recipes. The James Beard winning author has penned several cookbooks  and has another winner on his hands in “Souffles.” Julia would be proud.

The French Cook-Souffles by Greg Patent. Photography by Kelly Gorham.

The French Cook-Souffles by Greg Patent. Photography by Kelly Gorham.

Cookbook Giveaway

Like Patent, I love making souffles, but as I said before, I’ve had a few sad souffle stories, including a woefully underdone chocolate souffle at Tour D’Argent in Paris, and a fallen souffle for a tardy photo shoot.

Do you have a souffle story? If so, please share it with me here in the comments section. I’ll select a winner on May 1 and will mail you a copy of Greg’s book.

As always, bon appetit!

 

(Please note: Souffle should be finished with an accent on the “e” but my formatting will not allow me to do it!)

 

 

 

 

 

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Thrice “Baked” Nice

In this, their third cookbook, Brooklyn-based baking dynamos Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito really hit the ball out of the park, or should that be Yankee Stadium?

Baked Elements: Our  Ten Favorite Ingredients (Abrams, September 2012) is jam-packed with the authors’ highly original and decidedly tasty approach to baking and pairing flavors. This book is organized by their 10 favorite ingredients: peanut butter, lemon & lime, caramel, booze, pumpkin, malted  milk powder, cinnamon, cheese, chocolate and banana. The ingredients that “we would take to a desert island or rescue from a burning house,” as the authors’ wittily write.

They traverse the landscape of Americana with soul-warming and regionally influenced treats like buttermilk donuts and devil dogs.  Ironic, absent-minded professor humor (i.e., “If you have ever woken up with a slight hangover and a dubious, half-remembered, half-eaten jar of peanut butter at your side. We can empathize. We have lived this shame.”) that make this not only an extremely informed read, but an extremely fun one as well.

Beautifully organized and photographed by Tina Rupp, it is a must-read for Baked fans and bakers everywhere.  Seventy five delicious recipes with fun names (Lacy Panty Cakes, Lemon Pecorino Pepper Icebox Cookies,  Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Tunnel of Hazelnut Fudge Cake, Banana in a Blanket, and a luscious Cheddar Corn Souffle) are bound to bring out the inner baker in anyone.

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