12 September 2011

nobody does it better…

Trish Deseine is a lovely Irish lass. For twenty years she has been an Irish lass living in France. Writing cookbooks. Her book Ma Petite Robe Noire was awarded the Priz La Mazille at Perigueux, one of France’s highest culinary honors, making Deseine the first non-French author to ever win the prize.

In 2007, she put her love of French cooking into an English language book appropriately titled, nobody does it better…Why French home cooking is still the best in the world. Our love of French cooking and cookbooks is well noted and while French home cooking might just be the best in the world, I am convinced the French food photography is clearly the best in the world. Frankly, the food could be absolutely abysmal, but the pictures of the food make it look fabulous.

Deseine is not a trained chef, but learned to cook in the French style the same way most home cooks learned, at the elbow of other women. She watched them cook and more importantly, she watched them shop. She read and experimented and before long, she was the woman with the elbow everyone wanted to stand beside. Of course, her fist inspiration was Elizabeth David…”the only guru you needed or heeded, she was the first foreign cook you wanted to emulate.”

Of course, like most French cookbooks, this one has a battery of recipes that you know and love (and find in every other French cookbook you own), but there are many other new and luscious recipes just waiting to be added to your personal repertoire. Like this joues de porc braisées au cidre.

Pig Cheeks Braised in Cider

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for frying

50 g butter

1 kg pig’s cheeks

4 –5 shallots

750 mi dry cider

200 g button mushrooms

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160 C/325 F/Gas mark 3

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-based casserole with a lid. Brown the meat with the shallots for a few minutes, then pour over the cider and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze, bring to a boil and cover. Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Some 20 minutes before serving fry up the mushrooms in a little olive oil and add them to the casserole.

Serve with fresh ribbon pasta.

Chefs just love to make pig’s cheeks and they make such a fuss about cooking them, like only a big old chef would be able to master such a recipe. And here is a recipe that anyone can make and everyone will want to eat. Oh yes and even the picture is yummy.

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