French Food at Home

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-05-07
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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Written in a breezy, thoroughly engaging style, "French Food at Home" focuses on the simplicity, familiarity of ingredients, and ease of technique that make French cuisine unique. Calder shows how cooking a la Francaise is both practical and easy.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
First Courses
Dinner Fairly Fast
Dinner Slightly Slower
Side Dishes
Index 221


French Food at Home

Carrot Juice Chicken

Serves 4 to 6

Three-star chef Alain Passard did this on TV once with a rabbit and I, recalling my late grandfather's homemade carrot juice which I loathed to drink in my youth, thought, "ick." Fortunately, that "ick" was overwhelmed by my fascination with the idea of cooking meat in carrot juice, and so I tried it. Well, what a revelation. Carrot juice added in judicious ladles over browned chicken pieces in a pan cooks down to a caramelized orangey glaze that coats the meat and gives it remarkable taste, flirting with both acidity and sweetness. I still won't drink carrot juice, but I'll do this. Try it with rabbit or veal, if you like.


4 chicken legs (about 1/2 pound/250 g each), split between thigh and drumstick
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
11 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 cups/1 l carrot juice


Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a sauté, pan until hot, and brown the chicken pieces well on all sides (working in batches -- if necessary), a good 20 minutes. Pour all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan and scatter the herbs over the chicken.

Now ladle in about 1 cup/250 ml of the juice and cook until reduced to a syrup. Turn the chicken. Ladle in another 1/2 cup/125 ml and let it reduce. Continue adding the juice by 1/2 cups (125 ml), turning the chicken occasionally, until it is tender and coated in a shiny orange glaze. When the last ladle of juice has reduced to a sauce-like syrup, transfer the chicken to a serving platter, drizzle over the pan sauce, and serve.

Salmon Poached in Olive Oil

Serves 4

It's not that this recipe takes any time to make, but it is luxurious with all the olive oil, even if you do use an inexpensive kind, which I recommend. What's remarkable about the gentle poaching in warm, fragrant oil is that the fish emerges extraordinarily supple, cooked to absolute perfection. The garnish of diced tomato and shredded basil leaves mixed with a bit of the warmed oil and spooned over is all that's needed. Serve the salmon on Green Beans with Shallots and Toasted Almonds (page 174), substituting toasted pine nuts in place of the almonds. Cucumber slices lightly sautéed is another good base. Once the fish is poached, cool the leftover oil, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve, and store it in a jar in the refrigerator for the next time. Halibut and trout are also otherworldly cooked like this, so "next time" should be soon.


4 skinned salmon fillets (1/4 pound/125 g each)
Salt and pepper
About 1 1/2 cups/375 ml olive oil, more if needed
1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
8 basil leaves, shredded
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and lay them in a frying pan or saucepan just large enough to hold them. Pour in oil to just cover them. Heat gently until the oil is quite warm to the touch. Turn off the heat and let the fish sit in the oil to poach until cooked but still pink in the center, 10 to 15 minutes.

When it's cooked, remove the fish to serving plates. Pour all but 1/4 cup/60 ml of the oil out of the pan. There will be a bit of fish residue at the bottom, which you want to hang on to for flavor. Add the tomato and basil to the oil, taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Heat for just a minute, then spoon around the fish, and let fall a few raindrops of vinegar around each. Serve immediately.

French Food at Home. Copyright © by Laura Calder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from French Food at Home by Laura Calder
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