10 February 2009

Good Food From France

H.P Pellaprat was the head chef and teacher at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris for thirty years. He tried to adapt the famous and professional recipes he taught to chefs for the home cook. The problem with Pellaprat’s concept is that his recipes ended up being simplified to the point that they fail to be instructive.

Good Food From France was published in 1950. It is hard to imagine in 2009 just how strange French cuisine was when Truman was President. In today's kitchen, a cook could pick up a copy of Pellaprat's book and follow along with his recipes, but in 1950, it would have been more difficult. It would be another eleven years before Julia Child’s Mastering The Art Of French Cooking was published. Then another 2 years after that before Child took to air waves to show America how to prepare French cuisine.

Here is a simple recipe from Pellaprat for a Crème Chantilly.

Sweet Whipped Cream

Whip heavy cream until it is almost stiff. Sweeten with confectioner’s sugar, allowing 3/4 cup of sugar to a pint of cream. Flavor with 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

While we have a great variety of milk in the USA, 1%, 2%, skim, or vitamin D it all seems to be a watered down whole milk. Where as every little village in France offers cream, heavy cream, double cream, crème fraîche, in most of the USA it is Half and Half or Whipping Cream, but in many places, you can find Heavy Cream. There are variations in the butter fat content. Roughly:

Half and Half 10.5 %
Light Cream AKA Coffee Cream or Table Cream 18 -30 %
Whipping Cream 30 -36%
Heavy Cream 36 -42%
Whipped "desert topping" 0% -- it's all vegetable oil, do not under any circumstances buy this stuff!!

I prefer to use Heavy Cream. It won't be as stiff as whipping cream, but is a much lovelier texture for me. I am not that fond of cloying sweetness so 3/4 cup of sugar is way too much for two cups of cream. Generally, I us 1 tablespoon of sugar for every cup of cream. Instead of vanilla, try adding a teaspoon of spirits. With cream for berries or citrus, I use Cointreau. For chocolate, I am partial to Jack Daniels.

While Pellaprat taught chefs, it took Julia Child to teach home cooks how to make really “Good Food From France”.


  1. Lucinda,

    It should be chefs (not with the apostrophe) and a comma afterward to separate from the "it took...."

    Otherwise, what a great idea to fete
    JC's work.

  2. Thanks for checking my atoochus, atrowsush, BAD spellings!


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