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Cooking of Southwest France: Recipes from France's Magnificient Rustic Cuisine [Anglais] [Relié]

Paula Wolfert

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Description de l'ouvrage

16 septembre 2005
"An indispensable cookbook."
- Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue

When Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France was first published in 1983, it became an instant classic. This award-winning book was praised by critics, chefs, and home cooks alike as the ultimate source of recipes and information about a legendary style of cooking. Wolfert's recipes for cassoulet and confit literally changed the American culinary scene. Confit, now ubiquitous on restaurant menus, was rarely served in the United States before Wolfert presented it.

Now, twenty-plus years later, Wolfert has completely revised her groundbreaking book. In this new edition, you'll find sixty additional recipes - thirty totally new recipes, along with thirty updated recipes from Wolfert's other books. Recipes from the original edition have been revised to account for current tastes and newly available ingredients; some have been dropped.

You will find superb classic recipes for cassoulet, sauce perigueux, salmon rillettes, and beef daube; new and revised recipes for ragouts, soups, desserts, and more; and, of course, numerous recipes for the most exemplary of all southwest French ingredients - duck - including the traditional method for duck confit plus two new, easier variations.

Other recipes include such gems as Chestnut and Cepe Soup With Walnuts, magnificent lusty Oxtail Daube, mouthwatering Steamed Mussels With Ham, Shallots, and Garlic, as well as Poached Chicken Breast, Auvergne-Style, and the simple yet sublime Potatoes Baked in Sea Salt. You'll also find delicious desserts such as Batter Cake With Fresh Pears From the Correze, and Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream.

Each recipe incorporates what the French call a truc, a unique touch that makes the finished dish truly extraordinary. Evocative new food photographs, including sixteen pages in full color, now accompany the text.

Connecting the 200 great recipes is Wolfert's unique vision of Southwest France. In sharply etched scenes peopled by local characters ranging from canny peasant women to world-famous master chefs, she captures the region's living traditions and passion for good food.

Gascony, the Perigord, Bordeaux, and the Basque country all come alive in these pages. This revised edition of The Cooking of Southwest France is truly another Wolfert classic in its own right.


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"...Bold and indefatigable...Wolfert writes recipes with such vivid and explicit instructions you might think you were really cooking in Toulousse...." (New York Times Book Review, December 4, 2005)

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Amazon.com: 4.8 étoiles sur 5  28 commentaires
100 internautes sur 101 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent instruction for the experienced cuisinier 17 octobre 2005
Par J. V. Lewis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Wolfert's book has taken the short shelf in my kitchen alongside Richard Olney, Alice Waters, and Marcella Hazan. The Cooking of Southwest France, especially in this new and improved edition, is a rare feat: not only are the recipes detailed, clear, and deeply informative, but the accompanying text is the best I've found for a hard-to-penetrate region of highly chauvanistic local opinion and practice. The introduction and the section on the flavors of the Southwest is an enlightening essay on its own, the bare bones of a great travel book which is fleshed out in the recipes.

Now about those recipes: Richard Olney has long been my standard for great cooking instruction. His recipes manage to be clear and opinionated, true to the region [in his case mostly Provence] but manageable in a big-city American kitchen, relentless in their pursuit of pleasure, dismissive of the narrow and purse-lipped health obsessions of the food-as-medicine Anglo-Saxon crowd, and deeply informed about the ingredients per se. Paula Wolfert, to my knowledge, is the first writer of cookbooks to equal Olney's contribution. Her style is more broadly journalistic and less opinionated, but her recipes are equally true to their sources.

That being said, her sources are French. French farmhouse kitchens and French starred restaurants. So these recipes can be arduous, a real stretch for the average American home kitchen. Many recipes require not only equipment most Americans don't own, but techniques that are dificult to master and even harder to research. But we welcomed Julia Child by spending more time in the kitchen and more money buying kitchen tools, and Wolfert's recipes deserves that same dedication. As Richard Olney said, paraphrased: "The best food requires effort and skill and a sensitivity to the raw materials". So, after stretching my well-equipped kitchen to the limits this last weekend making a beef daube with cepes-prune sauce, stuffed onion a la Michel Bras, and God knows what other multi-page recipes only He can forgive, I can say that if your stove can't sloooow simmer, if you don't have a fine seive, if you don't have access to real cepes, if the idea of reducing two bottles of Cahors to two cups of sauce makes you shudder, and if you don't want to stand at the stove skimming and re-skimming, then this book isn't for you. Don't just open this book on the evening before the boss is due for dinner. Start a week ahead and plan well, and know that your efforts will be rewarded if you are true and steadfast.
64 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Superb Survey from the Master. Buy It! 17 octobre 2005
Par B. Marold - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This completely updated revision of `The Cooking of Southwest France' by premier cookbook author, Paula Wolfert is like a long drink of cold water to someone who looks forward to superior cookbooks. This volume may be just a tad less definitive than the author's landmark `Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco', but not from a deficiency on the part of the author, who has made things just a bit more challenging for herself by expanding the range of `Southwestern France'.

The range of her book covers, according to her map of the `Greater French Southwest', about two fifths of the country, from La Rochelle in the northwest to the Spanish border, then north along the Mediterranean coast to Montpellier on the Gulf of Lion, then north to include the provinces of Auvergne, Limousin, and Perigord in addition to the southwest heartland of Guyenne, Gascogne, and Languedoc.

While Provence and the rest of the French southeast is devoted to the use of olive oil and the French north loves its Normandy butter fat, the defining fat of the French southwest is animal fats, primarily lard from pork, duck fat, and chicken fat. These lipids are so central to the cooking of this region that many of the recipes look more foreign to our modern culinary sensibilities than recipes from Southeast Asia with its reliance on peanut oil.

Ms. Wolfert is quick to assure us early in the book that pork and duck fat is actually less saturated and less cholesterol laden than is butter fat. For the sake of enjoying this book, I will accept this and warn you that to fully appreciate the recipes in this book, I suggest you search out a good source of lard and duck fat. To aid you in this quest, Ms. Wolfert includes one of the best listings of Internet sources I have seen in a long time. The other rare ingredient you will need or be able to produce is verjus (sour grape sauce) which is a remarkable throwback to the cooking of ancient Rome. I recently queried my local megamart and could find no trace of this product.

The other hallmark products of the region are foie gras from both geese and ducks, black mushrooms, walnuts, chestnuts, cepes (porcini mushrooms in Italian), Bayonne ham (not available in the United States at all. Procuitto or Serrano hams are very acceptable substitutes), chicken, baby eels (available from Spanish speciality stores), snails, salt cod, verjus (sour grape juice) and red wines (Bordelais).

Aside from devoted Paula Wolfert fans, those who will find this book most useful are people who are especially fond of dishes with duck, geese, and chicken. Close to half of the main course dishes involves one of these three birds. The only catch is that the best duck for most of these recipes is the Moutard, which is both more expensive and harder to find in the United states than the common Pekin and Muscovy ducks easily obtained from D'Artagnan in your local megamart. The book is also an important authority on those most important dishes of the area, Garbure (a meat and bean stew), Terrines, Rillettes (shredded meats), and Cassoulet. And, it has more variations than I have seen anywhere else on the theme of chicken in a wine sauce. Most of these recipes use baby chickens (poussins) rather than elderly male chickens.

I appreciate Wolfert's books not only for their terrific insights into important European and Mediterranean cuisines, but in quietly competent way she goes about presenting her material, with just the right amount of detail and compromise to what can be done in an American kitchen without loosing all touch with her subject's `terroir'. The recipes are done with all the right amount of detail, but not too much so that you become bored with the repetition. You will find no extravagant or breathless statements. Everything is done with a depth of knowledge which is unmatched by any other contemporary writer I have read. While you can get the broad outlines of this region's cuisine from surveys such as Elizabeth David's `French Provincial Cooking' and Waverly Root's `The Food of France', you simply cannot get from these works the fine details of preparing these recipes.

And, Ms. Wolfert never goes off message. Unlike many books of Italian regional cooking, there is no coloring outside the lines by bringing in recipes from Provence or Dijon or Normandy. Among Ms. Wolfert's other books, I would rate this better than `The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen' and at least as good as `Mediterranean Grains and Greens'. It is probably as good as her `The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean', and it is more interesting in that it's subject is much more compact and coherent than the whole of the eastern Mediterranean.

Part of her not straying from her core subject is the fact that there are no bread recipes and relatively few dessert recipes. The recipes come from professional chefs of the region, amateur chefs living in southwest France, and Wolfert's adaptations of local recipes based on her own experiences in the region. And, she is scrupulous in identifying from what source each recipe comes.

A fine index is provided to all recipes by region and by course in addition to the conventional index.

Simply reading this book is a treat. Cooking from it may be just a bit of a challenge until you get a reliable source of duck, cured ham, and verjus, but this should be no more difficult than requirements of cooking, for example, Vietnamese cuisine.

An especially valuable addition to the literature on French cooking.
42 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Newer, but not always better 1 janvier 2006
Par A reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I would join with the other reviewers here in recognizing this work as a tour de force in the field of authentic, regional French cooking. I have owned the earlier edition for a number of years and have used it to produce successful, one-of-a-kind results. I would also echo the comments of others in warning prospective purchasers not to expect any simple, quick, or uninvolved recipes in this book. Many main courses require several steps of preparation spread over more than one day. It is also true that many of the recipes still call for ingredients that are hardly on the shelves of the average (or even above average) pantry (e.g., ventreche, piment d'Espelette, rendered duck or goose fat, etc.). Having said all that, there are some wonderful recipes here. However, the changes worked into this new edition sometimes leave me baffled. To take one example, both the old and new editions include a recipe for duck "ham," an air-cured preparation that, when it works, produces a prosciutto-like result. The substantive difference between the old and new versions of this recipe call for the cook to "shave off the duck skin [from the duck breast that is used to make the ham] leaving the fat underneath intact." This really calls for an illustration or at least some additional explanation, in my opinion, because the skin and subcutaneous fat on the duck breast I examined after reading this instrucion are, as I expected would be the case, as one. Note that in the earlier version of this recipe, the skin was left intact. I've found a few more such amendments to recipes that didn't seem to make things any clearer (not to mention easier), and while I cannot say that there aren't any recipes that have been improved by revision, they haven't jumped out at me yet. A few of the new recipes look interesting, but they rise to the same level of challenge as all of the other recipes in this collection always have. Still, for those willing to invest a great deal of time and attention in the preparation of authentic Southwestern French cuisine, this is THE text in English.
47 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A superb introduction to regional cooking 3 mars 2000
Par Michael Kaan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
There are few books in English on regional French cooking that aren't about Provence, so a work like this is a real find. More important, Wolfert has written with her usual anthropological detail and authenticity. I think this is one of the best books on regional French cooking of any kind. The book is well organized by course and by type of meat. There is a special chapter on cassoulet as well, and very detailed instructions on making a confit that is as good as Madeleine Kamman's. Because most of this is peasant or bourgeois cooking, there are few things in the recipes that will be hard to find, and there is a lot on fascinating new techniques. There's an interesting recipe for mussels in which they're packed upright into an iron pan and covered with dried pine needles which are then set on fire. Also, Wolfert offers some very useful tips on reducing certain kinds of fat content while preserving taste, and what's best is that this is done for the sake of taste and quality, not with all the usual eating-disordered hand-wringing. Anyone interested in some of the real classics of French cooking--cassoulet and confit--will love this book. Most recipes demand a certain amount of experience and comfort in the kitchen, but the payoffs are superb. Great armchair reading too.
25 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Best of the Sud-ouest in English 19 février 2006
Par Aceto - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
A few additional remarks besides the excellent review by Mr. Marold:

Even if you are not up to cooking these great dishes, this book is one of the most useful books if you plan on going there. Wolfert covers many specific places you may want to visit. She locates some important restaurants and chefs (even in San Francisco). She tells you what to eat in many cities. She tells you about things you may want to bring home, including some of the specialized pots which are very hard to obtain here; one exception is the U.S. maker of the pot on the cover. You can order the "Diable Charentais" by Googling and selecting the translation of the potter's page. Wolfert shows you how much diversity there is within short distances across this region.

For the cook as well as the traveler, no book in English is so perceptive, comprehensive and accurate. With attention, you can reproduce "the truth". She is also helpful to those of us who cannot assemble the authentic equipment and ingredients.

The importance of this new edition is the current information on people and places, and especially on the sources now accessible from home.
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