This is my kind of cookbook; somewhat challenging, vibrant in nature and spirit, colorful photos throughout, free spirited …all while exploding with seasonal flavors at each turn of the page. If you’re the kind of foodie who shows up at a Farmers Market, draws in a deep breath and is hopeful beyond belief astonished by the scope of choices then THIS is to the book for you.
This is not a book for the lazy. Good food takes time. It requires some patience, a sense of your own direction and confidence in your own taste preferences despite the recipe laid out in front of you. Slow down and be the slow food movement you admire. As the author of this book, Chef François de Mélogue says, “Put your smartphone down, turn off the TV and enjoy your family. Involve your children in food. Show them what an apple orchard looks like or a farm. Teach them the relationships between the earth, the plow, the table and your stomach. Enjoy!” Great words – just sayin’.
I ask guest reviewer Adrianne Morrison to join me for this review . She brings a distinctive mind set to the kitchen and cookbook functionality. And make no bones about it, she likes cookbooks to have lots of colorful photos. I love a cookbook that shares the sense of place and taste the author brings to the literary table. I get a sense of excitement when I see recipes I can recommend to certain friends and can imagine adorning my table for family and friends to indulge in.
I’m thrilled to have read this outstanding cookbook, Cuisine of the Sun:A Ray of Sunshine on Your Plate. I truly loved my first look through this book, totally enjoyed the personal writing style and I anticipate perusing it again and again to feast on the photos that coax me into choosing the next dish to attempt. I know it contains chef’s recipes yet even as a home cook I feel empowered.
Multi talented Chef François de Mélogue gifts us with style, wit, personal rants and beautiful photography. His story-telling inspires me to become a better cook. He speaks of his mother, “She was a free spirited natural who cooked like a jazz musician riffs. Edible poetry in constant motion. She had a fearless style that was never daunted by lengthy recipes or even the need to follow them religiously.” And, tells us, “I often told apprentices in my kitchens that you can give two equal cooks the exact same bag of groceries and even the same recipe and you will end up with two different dishes. The person who cooks with passion and love always prepares the tastier, more soul satisfying meal. …Emotion is intoned and verbalized in food. Food and emotion are so strongly interconnected perhaps science cannot rationally document that phenomena.” (p. 13) You feel this emotion and intense love of creation using the best possible produce and proteins available. This is an excellent read that will whet your appetite for excellence in all your next meals.
This book is definitely not for sissies. Its recipes can be somewhat time consuming and challenging–but in a good Zen kind of way. They will require your rapt attention and a full pantry of varying meats, vegetables, fish and spices.
Cuisine off the Sun is a journey to good taste. Start where you are and learn, learn, learn. For example, explore the distinctive, seasonal dish opportunities. Learn why you should visit Boonville for its “third spice,” how to properly skin a pepper and the Ten Easy Rules for a Perfect Chicken.
Exquisitely photographed, it is an edible love letter to the South of France featuring recipes for rustic dishes like Olive Tapenade, Marseille Fish Soup and a Rosé scented Daube of Lamb that is sure to transport you to the French countryside one of my favorite places and home to famous winemaker Gerard Bertrand. Grab a bottle of Bertrand’s dry French Rosé to complete the experience.
Chef de Mélogue sends his best wishes for great dishes with this outstanding recipe featured on page 17.
Artichoke Tarte Tatin
Chef de Mélogue
Pair with: Château La Sauvageonne Wild Woman (Gerard Bertrand Wines)
Caramelized Fennel and Onion, Goat Cheese, Olive Emulsion
Note from the author: Growing up I learned to cook at my mother’s apron strings. She made a lot of tarte tatins over the course of my childhood. When I became Chef of a Southern French restaurant in Chicago I decided to honor her Provençal roots with a savory interpretation using the classic flavors of artichokes, fennel, goat cheese and olives. It became a signature dish that followed me throughout my career.
½ red pepper, sliced
½ fennel bulb, sliced ½ sweet onion, sliced 1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
4 large artichokes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
10 pitted Niçoise olives, chopped
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mild olive oil
1 tablespoon butter, room temp
Assemble the tart
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan
2 ounces fresh goat cheese
4 puff pastry circles
Sauté the vegetables in olive oil till soft and lightly caramelized. Season with sea salt and pepper, then reserve.
Trim artichokes using a serrated paring knife till all the outer leaves are removed and there are no more bitter dark green spots. Cut the top off just above the bottom and use a teaspoon to scoop out the choke.
Cook in rapidly boiling salted water with olive oil and sliced lemon till a paring knife easily pierces the bottoms, about ten minutes.
Mix chopped olives with egg yolks, black pepper and vinegar. Whisk over boiling water till light and creamy. Combine olive oil and butter then slowly whisk into eggs. (Same method as making a Hollandaise.)
Assemble the tart
Drizzle a little olive oil in four small blini pans. Slice artichokes thinly and fan out in the pans. Top with a generous tablespoon of the caramelized vegetables, shaved Parmesan, ½ an ounce of goat cheese then press a circle of puff pastry. The puff pastry should be a slightly larger diameter than the pan you are using. Push the edges firmly around the artichoke. Bake at 450 degrees till golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Flip out onto a warmed plate, top with a spoonful of olive emulsion and enjoy!
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Cuisine of the Sun: A Ray of Sunshine on Your Plate
Available at Chef François’ blog