Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

cookbook reviews

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!)

 

 

 

 

 

WSJ Has Kind Words for Cream Puffs

 

Wall Street Journal’s Gastronomy columnist Aram Bakshian, Jr. wrote a very flattering review of The French Cook: Cream Puffs and Eclairs(as well as 4 other cookbooks) in this past weekend’s (December 14 and 15) edition. What a lovely Christmas present!

The French Cook: Cream Puffs & Eclairs

The French Cook: Cream Puffs & Eclairs a new release, October 1, 2013 (Gibbs Smith)

Here’s an excerpt from the column:

“There’s a bit more puff to the pastries described in Holly Herrick’s “The French Cook: Cream Puffs and Eclairs” (Gibbs Smith, 127 pages, $21.99). The latest addition to its publisher’s volumes on aspects of French cooking, this is a slender tome about a fattening yet exquisitely airy and oh-so-French dessert genre: cream puffs and éclairs. The lightness comes from the choux pastry base of simmered butter, water, flour and eggs, which Julia Child described as “one of the easiest pastries to make,” once you get the hang of it. Whatever its size or shape, the choux pastry serves as a model home for hundreds of fruit, custard, crème, cheese and chocolate fillings. Many of them are included here, from quick-cooking fruit sauces like Coulis aux Framboise (raspberry sauce intensified with crème de cassis) to the multilayered flavors of Profiteroles (cream puffs) with Salted Caramel Macadamia Nut Ice Cream and Warm Caramel Sauce (a great combination of a lot of sweetness with just a touch of savoriness). Ms. Herrick, an award-winning pastry chef herself, is the ideal docent for this classic gallery of French desserts, and her recipes, for even the most complicated items, are concise and clear.”

Mr. Bakshian also rightly states at the top of his piece that “Christmas remains a bastion of culinary custom, a time to open our hearts, loosen our belts, and enjoy food rather than obsess about it.” Indeed! Wishing you and yours an especially warm, loving, beautiful and delicious Christmas and good tidings for 2014.

Bon appetit!

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