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French Farmhouse Cookbook    by Susan Harmann Loomis order for
French Farmhouse Cookbook
by Susan Harmann Loomis
Order:  USA  Can
Workman, 2004 (1996)
Hardcover, Softcover
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Patricia Wells, in her foreword to French Farmhouse Cookbook, says that 'Susan Loomis has France in her bones.' Alice Waters tells us that 'Susan Loomis's new book is that rare thing: a cookbook that expresses accurately the milieu of its recipes. It is a milieu that she knows and loves: agarian France, still fiercely proud of its traditions.' It's clear from Loomis's own words in her Introduction, that she holds a great regard for France and its farmers, who produce the ingredients that she uses in her recipes. From the cover: 'In over 250 recipes and a wealth of austuces - tips passed down through generations of cooks - Susan Lomis captures the authentic cuisine du terroir, the rustic and richly flavored farmhouse cooking that is the basis of French cuisine and a perennial inspiration for French chefs.'

On to the recipes. There's a plethora of good food and austuces to keep any chef cooking their best. Pumpkin and Chestnut Soup sounds wonderful just as Fall is approaching. Warm Camembert Tart! What a delicate flavor that must be. Carrots with Juniper Berries. Can't imagine that and can't wait to try it. Chicken with Lemon Thyme. And the French Fries - which 'don't necessarily mean fat. If the oil is at the right temperature, the frites will absorb little. They will be rich and golden and richly tasting of potatoes rather than of the fat they were fried in (though immersing them in hot goose fat does give them a spectacular edge).' Long Loaf - those long crusty loaves of bread that are synonymous with France. Perfect this and you'll be the cook of the year! Tomato and Sweet Pepper Pizza. I've had pizza in the country in France and it was divine. This recipe uses Gruyere cheese as did the one I tasted. Sheer ecstasy. I can almost taste Pasta with Onion Confit. Warm Green Beans in Walnut Oil - delicious.

The recipes in French Farmhouse Cookbook slide from one mouthwatering dish to the next. Accompanying them are histories of the dishes. Intriguing on their own, these vignettes make the foods even more special. To my mind this is downhome cookin' at its best with the added attraction of the French flair, using spices, herbs, the freshest ingredients, great dollops of wine and a love of what is being produced. Susan Loomis shows us what we can do to present the finest of foods. What are you waiting for? Let's get to it.

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