Book review: ‘French Main Meals Made Easy’ – Boeuf aux Carrottes
Over the years I’ve discovered that one of the easiest ways to bring French inspiration into your daily life is by way of food.
Whether via a gourmet feast at your favourite French restaurant, the chewiness of a freshly baked baguette, or the pure satisfaction you receive when you crack the top of a creme brûlée, there are equal parts magic and joy in French cuisine. And these qualities extend to the French dishes we cook at home.
Despite the fact that French cuisine can whisk you off to a Parisian bistro without you having set foot outside your very own kitchen, many home cooks avoid cooking French inspired meals. The common perception is that they are just too tricky, fussier than necessary and contain an overload of ingredients.
A fabulous new concept: ‘French Main Meals Made Easy’
If you happen to fall into the category described above, the team here at MyFrenchLife™ are excited to let you know about a fabulous new concept, designed to help you overcome your fears of cooking French cuisine. MyFrenchLife™ contributor Carolyne Lee has teamed up with French chef Régis Jaubert to take the mystery out of French cooking!
Together Carolyne and Régis have curated a fabulous collection of French recipes, entitled ‘French Main Meals Made Easy: Week 1’. Carolyne herself describes the publication as a booklet rather than a book and the short, easy-to-read format certainly helps to make tackling French cuisine at home far less daunting.
What I liked about ‘French Main Meals Made Easy: Week 1’
True to its name, ‘French Main Meals Made Easy: Week 1’ contains seven easy to follow recipes – one for every day of the week. If you happened to treat the recipes as a meal plan, you would create a weeks worth of well balanced recipes.
The booklet contains seven truly classic recipes. As Carolyne mentions in the book’s introduction, French cookbooks often seem to contain everything but traditional French recipes, particularly if they’ve been tailored for English-speaking readers. This is not the case with ‘French Main Meals Made Easy: Week 1’ – Régis has clearly taken the time to convert the recipes for those of us who live outside France, without sacrificing the integrity of the dishes.
Carolyne and Régis’ booklet provides easy to follow instructions and pictures that show you what the steps are supposed to look like, which is always helpful. Be sure to read the recipes all the way to the end: while the ingredient lists are more than manageable, sometimes a secret touch or two is contained in the recipe steps. If you shop only off the list of ingredients at the start of the recipe, you might miss a special something.
What I wasn’t so sure about
I didn’t want ‘French Main Meals Made Easy: Week 1’ to finish so soon. I know, I know. That defeats the purpose of the whole ‘not overwhelming’ concept but as a keen home cook I devour cookbooks and I could have happily continued to read! Luckily for me a desserts book is coming soon.
But the proof is in the tasting
I’m a firm believer that you can’t rate a recipe until you’ve actually cooked it. And the same sentiment goes for cookbooks: if you can’t actually cook anything from it, it is not worth the space on your book shelf. I’m pleased to say that it appears that ‘French Main Meals Made Easy’ is not going fall into that category.
On a recent, frosty Melbourne Sunday I decided to try Régis’ version of Boeuf aux Carrottes. The recipe reminded me somewhat of Boeuf Bourguignon in that it needs a 24-hour head start and contains beef, shallots, wine and carrots. But that is where the comparisons to Boeuf Bourguignon end. It was so easy. If you are able to chop carrots and shallots you’ll be able to create Boeuf aux Carrottes.
I was surprised at the complexity of flavours given how few ingredients the dish contains and the beef absolutely falls apart. When I asked the fussiest eater in our household whether he enjoyed the meal I received rave reviews. It is safe to say that I’ll be cooking Boeuf aux Carrottes again soon.
If you are looking to bring French inspiration, ease and taste into your weekday meals, ‘French Main Meals Made Easy: Week 1’ should definitely be on your reading list. You can pick up an electronic copy of the booklet here.
Do you find cooking French food overwhelming? Do you wish you had more French recipes in your repertoire? Have you already read ‘French Main Meals Made Easy: Week 1’? Let us know your thoughts!
- French Main Meals Made Easy cover, via amazon.
- Boeuf aux Carrottes © Scott Gould