Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book review of Le French Oven by Hillary Davis

French Village Diaries book review Le French Oven Hillary Davis cookery
Le French Oven by Hillary Davis

My review today is for Le French Oven by Hillary Davis, food journalist, author and cooking instructor who lived near Nice for eleven years and is passionate about French food.

I received the ebook version of this book to review and I was immediately drawn to the fantastic pictures. In fact I would go so far as to say Steven Rothfeld’s photographs in this book are stunning and some of the best I have seen in a long while and as well as pictures of the food, there are shots of the markets of France, vignettes of French life and beautiful scenery. If they look this good in the ebook version I can only imagine that the glossy hardback book must be a work of art and worth it’s price even before you get around to trying the recipes. The only downside I can see is that I would probably be afraid to use it in the kitchen for fear of splattering it and staining it with greasy marks.

Now on to the important bit, the recipes. Every one of Hilary’s recipes in this book (and there are almost 80) is cooked in a crock pot/heavy duty casserole (often referred to as a Dutch Oven), but for the purposes of this book and the fact that the best are made in France, Hilary uses the term French Oven and I’m glad she did. Hilary gives us a history of the French Oven, a handy guide to the best French brands available, and not all of them were names I recognized, as well as a helpful section on which one (or ones) to choose. Be warned, reading this book will make you realize you need more than one!

Even as a lover of using mine I had no idea the French Oven was such a versatile cook pot and I am almost ashamed of my ignorance. As well as the more expected stews and roasting recipes, Hilary also includes some delicious appetizers, soups and desserts and even shares how to bake bread in it. With a potager spilling over with squash I have made the Velvety Pumpkin Pie Soup and it made a really nice change to try something different from my usual recipe, even if I did have to improvise slightly as pumpkin pie spice and half-and-half (a light cream) are not as readily available here as in the US.

I have been inspired by Hilary to use mine when I wouldn’t normally and just this week I made a batch of savory apple sauce in it. If you have one that sits at the back of the cupboard, this book will give you all the encouragement you need to make it a central part of your kitchen.

I don’t think it is too early to be thinking about Christmas pressies and I’m sure this is a book any lover of French food would be delighted to receive.

Le French Oven is published by Gibbs Smith and is available in hardback (go on treat yourself) and ebook format. Links to Amazon can be found below.

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