French Country Cooking: Authentic Recipes from Every Region, written by Françoise Branget, features 180 recipes submitted by the members of the French National Assembly from throughout France and the overseas departments. A few highlights include Eggs Poached in a Burgundy Wine Reduction, Breton Apple Cake, Savoyard Bread Pudding, Cabbage Soup with Smoked Pork and Sausage, and Praline Ice Cream. I will also be sharing a recipe for Gougères (French Cheese Puffs) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this copy from Arcade Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Françoise Brante represents the Doubs department in the National Assembly of France and is a member of the Union for a Popular Movement political party (recently renamed Les Républicains).
French Country Cooking
French Country Cooking jumps right into to the recipes submitted from across France and overseas territories. The resulting compilation is a variety of dishes representing the diversity of French regional cuisine, from simple comfort food to the more complex and extravagant products meant to impress. The book was originally published in 2011 in France by Le Cherche Midi Editeur. It was translated by Jeannette Seaver in 2012.
There are no specific chapters, but the recipes are organized based on departments in alphabetical order. Each department includes 1-5 recipes.
The contents page at the beginning of the book has a full listing of the recipes for easy searching. The name of the dish is provided in English and French. Every recipe has a headnote with background information on the French department it comes from, a note from the deputy of that department, and tips for the dish. Measurements are provided in US Customary. Most of the recipes include a full page photograph of the finished product.
Gougères (French Cheese Puffs)
Gougères (Cheese Puffs) are savory pastry bites from Yonne, Burgundy that are perfect for the holiday table. These little cheesy mounds of dough become light and airy when baked with a hollow center (that some stuff with food such as ham and mushrooms).
These Gougères are a great accompaniment to wines such as Burgundy wine or Kir, the aperitif of Chablis wine laced with black currant liqueur. They can be made larger to be used as a first course. Hénard, a Parisian pâtissier who moved to Flogny-la-Chapelle, was the first to create the Gougère from the Parisian ramequin.
They can be served warm or cool. I personally preferred warm from the oven. The cheese puffs are best the day they are prepared. You can mix and match different types of grated cheese, but the most traditional are Gruyère, Comté, or Emmental.
The dough can get a bit sticky. I wet my hands to make it easier to form into balls. The batter can also be transferred to a pastry bag with an extra large round tip and piped onto the prepared baking sheets.
I also made Storzapreti (Quenelles of Swiss Chard and Cheese), Flamiche aux poireaux (Leek Tart), Poulet au curry (Curried Chicken), and Gâteau au chocolat (Chocolate Cake).
Storzapreti (Quenelles of Swiss Chard and Cheese) from Haute-Corse are little dumplings made of swiss chard (or spinach), mint, brocciu (or ricotta), and parmesan. They are served with a tomato sauce. Haute-Corse (Northern Corsica) is known for its use of the soft, fresh whey cheese brocciu. I did not have that cheese available, so I used ricotta.
Flamiche aux poireaux (Leek Tart) is a regional specialty from Somme, Picardy. The recipe comes from Marie-Christine Klopp’s Michelin star restaurant in Roye. Leeks are reduced with butter and water to form a compote, then mixed with cream. They are used as a filling for discs of puff pastry and baked until golden.
Gâteau au Chocolat (Chocolate Cake) from Paris is a simple cake made from dark chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and a little flour. The egg whites are beaten to add the light texture to the cake. I served the slices with scoops of vanilla ice cream. They can also be topped with powdered sugar.
Poulet au curry (Curried Chicken) comes from the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. Pieces of chicken are simmered in a white wine sauce lightly seasoned with curry powder. The sauce is finished off with the addition of creme fraiche. It is served with an oven-baked rice pilaf. This was particularly good as leftovers the next day.
Looking for more French recipes?
- Broyé du Poitou (Shortbread from Poitiers)
- Palmiers (French Palm Tree Pastries)
- Pistou (Provençal Basil Paste)
French Country Cooking is a great choice for those interested in regional French cooking. Most of the ingredients are easy to find in the average American grocery store. A few of the more difficult to find ingredients include French andouille, certain cheeses, orange blossom water, chickpea flour, boudin blanc sausages, and foie gras. Recipes range from appetizers to desserts, but no beverages.
Gougères (French Cheese Puffs) Recipe
Gougères (French Cheese Puffs)
- 1 cup water
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Gruyère or Comté cheese reserve a couple of tablespoons for topping
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- In a saucepan, bring to a boil water, butter, salt, pepper. When butter is melted and water boils, remove from fire and put flour in all at once, stirring vigorously. Return to fire and stir until dough detaches itself from sides of pot. Set aside to cool until tepid.
- Add eggs one at a time while continuing to stir to achieve a smooth paste. Stir in cheese, reserving a small amount for topping.
- Line a large baking sheet, or two, with parchment paper. Divide dough into small balls, the size of a ping-pong ball, and place 1 1/2 inches apart. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese. (Or you can opt to cut thin strips of cheese and place one or two on top.)
- Bake 25-30 minutes until gougères are puffed high, and golden. Serve.