02 September 2009

The Impressionists' Table

The Impressionists' Table is one of those cookbooks that draws on old cookery texts to try to recreate the food that might have been eaten at an earlier time. The cookbook is then laced with period pictures, making it a cookbook/art book. The advantage of these books is you can look at them and never think of cooking the recipes.

This title plays with the gastronomy of nineteenth century France. Alexandra Leaf had many available texts from which to choose the recipes. There are many cookbooks from the era as well as menus and other ephemera that allow for a rather accurate portrayal of exactly what the Impressionist might have consumed.

Ladies Lunching at the Moulin Rouge

After gathering her recipes, acclaimed French chef, Jacques Pépin choose appropriate wines to accompany the menus.

Leaf has adapted the old recipes, giving them that modern touch of accurate measurements and exact cooking times. There is a nice bibliography of the texts she consulted. Frankly, I feel more cookbooks should have bibliographies. Seriously, if you cooked it, someone else probably cooked it before you did, so try and give them a shout out.

I consume a lot of cauliflower. It is, perhaps, my favorite vegetable. I think more people would eat it if were reverted to the French, chou-fleur. Here is a nice, yet straight forward chou-fleur sautéd in butter. And as Julia taught us, everything is better in butter.

Chou-Fleur Saut
é au Beurre

1 large unblemished head cauliflower
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fines herbes

Cut flowerets from the head of cauliflower and place in a large kettle of generously salted boiling water. Boil for 5- 10 minutes, or until they are about three-fourths cooked. the stems should be slightly firm when pricked with a fork. (You may steam them if you prefer.)

Melt the butter in a large skillet, add the flowerets, and cook until golden, turning frequently. Transfer to a hot serving dish and pour the pan juices over the flowerets. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs and serve.

Jacques Pépin's wine selection: Pouilly Fumé/Domaine Tempier (Bandol).

This chou-fleur was taken from Louis Eustache Audot's La cuisinière de la campagne et de la ville, published in 1888.

1 comment:

  1. Gidgets Vintage Finds on Etsy will soon list a copy of this wonderful cookbook for sale!


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