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Book Brief: Essentials of French Cooking

Book Brief: Essentials of French Cooking

France is home to one of the world's most celebrated cuisines, embracing diverse regional specialties that have been perfected by centuries of dedicated cooks. One of the newest cookbooks from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of French Cooking takes you on a culinary tour of this food lover's paradise, exploring its signature recipes, techniques and food traditions.

At the heart of French cooking is the notion of terroir, which ties the distinctive character of local dishes to the land itself. Dining tables reflect the rhythms of nature, showcasing ingredients that are in harmony with the seasons. With this in mind, the book begins with a guide to the country's varied regions, followed by more than 140 recipes, each identified by its native locale.

Open-air markets are colorful testimony to French cooks' love of fresh produce, which plays a vibrant role in a variety of recipes. Serve apéritifs with a puff-pastry tart topped with wild mushrooms, leeks and goat cheese. In a classic Parisian preparation, earthy wild mushrooms are baked in parchment packets, a dish that makes a wonderful accompaniment to poultry and fish. Savor a taste of Provence with a vegetable tian made with tomatoes, eggplant and basil and topped with crispy bread crumbs.

Local meats and seafood provide a flavorful foundation for France's regional cuisines. For a coastally inspired lunch or supper that is ready in minutes, try plump mussels steamed with wine, garlic and thyme, the perfect complement to the briny flavors of the shellfish. Round out the meal with a simple green salad and a crusty baguette.

French cooks are famous for their dinner parties, and this book provides plenty of delicious ideas. Delight your guests with a succulent leg of lamb seasoned with herbes de Provence. The meat is roasted on a bed of potatoes and onions, creating an irresistible side dish. Crown your feast with elegant crepes suzette, flambéed with brandy and Grand Marnier.

Making it easy to prepare meals with authentic Gallic style, this volume is filled with step-by-step color photographs illustrating culinary techniques as well as photos of the finished dishes. You will also find a guide to French viticultural regions with food-and-wine-pairing suggestions, plus a section on French cooking equipment. This beautiful cookbook is an essential kitchen companion that will inspire many years of memorable gatherings with family and friends.