Rustic French Cooking Made Easy: Authentic, Regional Flavors from Provence, Brittany, Alsace and Beyond features a wonderful collection of French home cooking inspired by Audrey Le Goff’s childhood. A few highlights include Ficelle Picarde (Cheese, Ham and Mushroom Stuffed Crêpes), Nonnettes (Marmalade-Filled Honey Cakes), Cervelle de Canut (Herbed Cheese Spread), Tarte au Caramel et aux Noix de Grenoble (Salted Caramel Walnut Tart), and Poulet Basquaise (Basque Braised Chicken with Peppers). I will also be sharing her recipe for Gaufres Fourrées à la Vergeoise (Little Sugar Waffles) following the review.
DisclosureI received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements 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.
Audrey Le Goff
Audrey Le Goff is a recipe developer, photographer, writer, and consultant for companies in the food and drink industry. She was born and raised in Brittany, France and currently lives in Niagara, Canada. She created the blog, Pardon Your French, as a way to share her love of French cuisine from classics to regional dishes.
Rustic French Cooking Made Easy
Chapters are divided based on course: L’Apéro (Small Bites), Entrées et Petits Plats (Starters and Casual Fare), Repas en Famille (Family Meals), Desserts Maison (Homey Desserts), and Le Goûter (Afternoon Treats). The Contents include a list of the recipes with page number for easy reference.
Audrey begins with a short introduction of her time as a child traveling through France and how those memories helped develop her love of the different regional cuisines with “its rich history and varied ingredients.” She has put together this book to share that passion with others along with personal stories in an uncomplicated way for the home cook.
The photography is provided by Audrey Le Goff and Karly Schaefer. Every single recipe is accompanied by a full-page photo of the finished dish. There are even a couple with step-by-step photos to demonstrate specific techniques such as folding Kouign-Amann and forming the Barbajuans (Fried Ravioli). Titles are written in French with the English translation underneath. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, personal stories, notable ingredients, helpful tips, and serving size.
Gaufres Fourrées à la Vergeoise (Little Sugar Waffles)
Similar in style to Stroopwafels (Dutch Caramel Waffles Cookies), Gaufres Fourées à la Vergeois are delicious little waffles filled with a layer of creamy beet sugar. They were developed in French Flanders along the southern border of Belgium following the development of sugar refineries near the city of Lille.
The trick is to work fast with the very hot waffle. They need to be cut in half horizontally to fill with the creamy sugar immediately after cooking. As they cool, they harden and will crack with handling. I used a thin, sharp bread knife to do this. If your hands are sensitive to heat, I have found a paper napkin folded in half works well to create a barrier while still giving you the control you need to delicately cut the waffles in half. Once filled, they can be served warm or allowed to cool.
I used a petite waffle cone maker to cook the waffles, but Audrey made some gorgeous Gaufres Fourées à la Vergeoise using a pizzelle maker (which may be a little easier to find). I did not have beet sugar (Vergeoise) available, so I went with her suggestion of brown sugar to make Gaufres fourrées à la cassonade.
I also made Préfou (Parsley Garlic Bread), Barbajuans (Fried Ravioli), Bisteu (Bacon, Onion and Potato Pie), and Piperade aux Oeufs (Onion, Pepper, Tomato and Egg Skillet).
Préfou (Parsley Garlic Bread) is the very first recipe in the book! This incredibly flavorful bread comes together easily in a short amount of time. Slits are cut across a baguette (one that is slightly under-baked is best) and filled with a parsley and garlic butter before baking until golden.
The Barbajuans (Fried Ravioli) were a personal favorite for me. According to Audrey, “they’re said to originate from the small village of Castellar, where locals would prepare them and sell them to markets in Monaco, and they are now the national dish.” These delicious fried treats are filled with onion, leek, spinach, Swiss chard, and ricotta. I followed her lead and formed them into squares, but they can also be round or shaped into triangles.
The Bisteu (Bacon, Onion and Potato Pie) is quite the comfort food! Crisp puff pastry holds together layers of creamy sliced potatoes, bacon, and caramelized onions to create this savory household staple from Picardy. It is also known as Flaouzou in the south.
From the French Basque Country, this Piperade aux Oeufs (Onion, Pepper, Tomato and Egg Skillet) is another comforting option with onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, and spices. The vegetables are sautéed until softened, baked with eggs and slices of Bayonne ham, and served with toasted baguette slices and a sprinkling of Espelette pepper.
Rustic French Cooking Made Easy is a great pick for those looking for homestyle French recipes. I especially love the focus on regional cuisines. Many of the dishes come together quickly, while others take a bit more prep work or longer simmering/baking times. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few that may require further searching include orange blossom extract, Espelette pepper, chickpea flour, crème fraîche, Calvados, buckwheat flour, Trappist ale, and juniper berries.
Gaufres Fourrées à la Vergeoise (Little Sugar Waffles) Recipe
Excerpt from Rustic French Cooking Made Easy
Gaufres Fourrées à la Vergeoise (Little Sugar Waffles)
For the Waffles:
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) instant yeast
- 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature and cubed
For the Filling:
- 1 cup (200 grams) beet sugar or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter melted
For the Waffles:
- To make the waffle dough, in a small saucepan, bring the milk to a lukewarm temperature over medium-low heat and stir in the yeast to dissolve. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, until foamy.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, eggs, and milky yeast. Mix until just incorporated. Add the butter in small additions, continuously kneading until the butter is fully incorporated. Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth and let sit in a dry environment for at least 2 hours or until doubled in size.
- After 2 hours, shape the dough into 20 to 22 balls (about 25 grams each). Place them on a tray, cover with a kitchen cloth, and let sit for 1 hour.
To make the Filling:
- Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and melted butter until creamy.
- Grease and heat a thin waffle iron. Place one dough ball in the iron, and bake until golden, about 2 minutes. Working quickly, remove the waffle from the iron, cut in half horizontally, smear the inside with a generous dollop of the filling and close the two halves. Repeat with the rest of the balls.
- Enjoy warm or cool.