French Food at Home

French Food at Home

3.6 15
by Laura Calder

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The French cooking of everyday life is lighthearted, accessible, and suited to modern tastes. Whether it's getting weeknight dinners on the table fairly fast (Basil Beef, Rhubarb Chops, or Carrot Juice Chicken) or leisurely cooking for dining at a slightly slower pace (Lamb Tagine, Holiday Hen, or Fennel Bass), Laura Calder shares recipes she's created at


The French cooking of everyday life is lighthearted, accessible, and suited to modern tastes. Whether it's getting weeknight dinners on the table fairly fast (Basil Beef, Rhubarb Chops, or Carrot Juice Chicken) or leisurely cooking for dining at a slightly slower pace (Lamb Tagine, Holiday Hen, or Fennel Bass), Laura Calder shares recipes she's created at home in her own French kitchen.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
The Paris correspondent for Vogue Entertaining and Travel, Calder has delivered a warm, no-nonsense volume of classic recipes (tarragon chicken, potato torte, steak au poivre), nearly all of which are simple to make, even if you don't have the luxury of shopping in big-city food markets. — Dwight Garner
Publishers Weekly
Proving that French cooking can be liberating and accessible, the Paris-based correspondent for Vogue Entertaining and Travel presents more than 100 recipes she developed. Some are inspired by the work of French restaurateurs, and most are easy to prepare. To accompany aperitifs, Calder suggests Frenchified Popcorn flavored with garlic, herbes de Provence and celery salt, or Hot Mussels, which start out like Moules Mariniere and end up being quickly broiled on the half-shell with a dollop of butter, garlic and parsley. Pea Green Soup is nothing more than cooked frozen peas, cream, salt and pepper. An easy dinner is Bacon Cod, fillets topped with lemon slices, bay leaves and thyme sprigs and wrapped with pieces of bacon before being slipped into the oven. Tarragon Chicken is a simplified version of a dish often gussied up by others. On the other hand, Filo Fish in Red Wine Sauce requires a bit of dexterity, and Holiday Hen glorifies a boned guinea hen (Calder supplies deboning instructions). A few of the recipes are off-the-wall, such as Hay Ham, a smoked ham actually simmered in pot with two large wads of fresh hay. Desserts are relatively easy, such as Flamb ed Bananas or Parmesan and Pink Pepper Strawberries, fresh berries wedded to those unusual tastes. Highly engaging headnotes explain each recipe and offer alternative techniques or ingredients. (Feb.) Forecast: This is not a book for those looking to perfect their Gallic expertise, but it will appeal to cooks with a yen to master uncomplicated dishes with a certain French flair. Many of the savory meals are served up with a quite effortless sauce of reduced juices fortified with a dab of butter. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Calder, the Paris correspondent for Vogue Entertaining and Travel magazine, presents an amusing narrative spliced with more than 100 of her personal recipes to illustrate her premise that French cooking is "a state of mind." Indeed eclectic, her recipe collection includes many simple classics like Endive Salad and Potato Omelets, yet there are also more unusual dishes like Duck on a String, which requires a salted duck breast to be hung in the open air for seven days; and Hay Ham (yes, hay, which Calder says imparts a unique, smoky flavor to the meat). The recipes are written in a casual style, often with less than precise instructions, and they often seem secondary to the author's preceding chatty comments and anecdotes. A better selection is Patricia Wells's The Paris Cookbook, also written from the perspective of an American in Paris, which provides simple, well-written recipes that can be successfully prepared by both experienced and novice home cooks in North American kitchens.-Mary Schlueter, Missouri River Regional Lib., Jefferson City Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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7.37(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.60(d)

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French Food at Home

Carrot Juice Chicken

Serves 4 to 6

Three-star chef Alain Passard did this on TV once with a rabbit and I, recalling my late grandfather's homemade carrot juice which I loathed to drink in my youth, thought, "ick." Fortunately, that "ick" was overwhelmed by my fascination with the idea of cooking meat in carrot juice, and so I tried it. Well, what a revelation. Carrot juice added in judicious ladles over browned chicken pieces in a pan cooks down to a caramelized orangey glaze that coats the meat and gives it remarkable taste, flirting with both acidity and sweetness. I still won't drink carrot juice, but I'll do this. Try it with rabbit or veal, if you like.


4 chicken legs (about 1/2 pound/250 g each), split between thigh and drumstick
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 cups/1 l carrot juice


Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a sauté, pan until hot, and brown the chicken pieces well on all sides (working in batches -- if necessary), a good 20 minutes. Pour all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan and scatter the herbs over the chicken.

Now ladle in about 1 cup/250 ml of the juice and cook until reduced to a syrup. Turn the chicken. Ladle in another 1/2 cup/125 ml and let it reduce. Continue adding the juice by 1/2 cups (125 ml), turning the chicken occasionally, until it is tender and coated in a shiny orange glaze. When the last ladle of juice has reduced to a sauce-like syrup, transfer the chicken to a serving platter, drizzle over the pan sauce, and serve.

Salmon Poached in Olive Oil

Serves 4

It's not that this recipe takes any time to make, but it is luxurious with all the olive oil, even if you do use an inexpensive kind, which I recommend. What's remarkable about the gentle poaching in warm, fragrant oil is that the fish emerges extraordinarily supple, cooked to absolute perfection. The garnish of diced tomato and shredded basil leaves mixed with a bit of the warmed oil and spooned over is all that's needed. Serve the salmon on Green Beans with Shallots and Toasted Almonds (page 174), substituting toasted pine nuts in place of the almonds. Cucumber slices lightly sautéed is another good base. Once the fish is poached, cool the leftover oil, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve, and store it in a jar in the refrigerator for the next time. Halibut and trout are also otherworldly cooked like this, so "next time" should be soon.


4 skinned salmon fillets (1/4 pound/125 g each)
Salt and pepper
About 1 1/2 cups/375 ml olive oil, more if needed
1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
8 basil leaves, shredded
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and lay them in a frying pan or saucepan just large enough to hold them. Pour in oil to just cover them. Heat gently until the oil is quite warm to the touch. Turn off the heat and let the fish sit in the oil to poach until cooked but still pink in the center, 10 to 15 minutes.

When it's cooked, remove the fish to serving plates. Pour all but 1/4 cup/60 ml of the oil out of the pan. There will be a bit of fish residue at the bottom, which you want to hang on to for flavor. Add the tomato and basil to the oil, taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Heat for just a minute, then spoon around the fish, and let fall a few raindrops of vinegar around each. Serve immediately.

French Food at Home. Copyright © by Laura Calder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

LAURA CALDER is host of Food Network Canada’s and the Cooking Channel’s James Beard Award–winning series French Food at Home. She is also author of the cookbook of the same name, as well as of the bestselling French Taste, which won the Cuisine Canada gold medal and was one of’s top 100 books of 2010. After a decade in France, Laura is now based in Canada. Check out her website at

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French Food at Home 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a must for anyone interested in French cooking. Calder's honest and hilarious commentary makes you feel like she's divulging the secrets to easy, delicious French recipes just to you. Nothing has too many ingredients, nothing is too complicated, and everything is tres bon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw Ms. Calder's cooking show on cable and loved it. She is so refreshing about cooking. Doesn't make it complicated. I had to have her cookbook. Absolutely love the book. Not complicated recipies like her cooking show. If you like to cook and like French food, purchase this book.
readerresearcherteacher More than 1 year ago
This work features stories, commentaries, and recipes that are exceptional to read and easy to follow. The result has been a heightened enjoyment of reading the cookbook cover to cover just for the stories alone, reinforced by some tasty products. While I haven't tried all her recipes as yet, interjecting several each week will have me through this book in no time with much enjoyment. Thanks so much, Ms Calder. My husband, children, and I are devotés!  
MiddleIslandEd More than 1 year ago
This is the worst Nook Book I've ever bought. It is so unprofessional. The table of contents just lists chapter titles. there is no list of recipes in each chapter. There are no pictures of any recipes. The recipes aren't ordered like most are - comments, then the ingredient list and then the instructions. It's just like one paragraph for each recipe. The index just lists every ingredient one after the other. Laura is great. Her recipes are great. But this is as though someone sat down at a desktop and just typed the book in. I think this Nook Book should have cost about $4.00. I've never seen a book translated to eprint so poorly. Has Barnes & Noble turned the Nook department over to 12 year olds?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm sure the recipes are lovely the only problem is the ebook version for nook does not have pictures...
davecavy65 More than 1 year ago
Lot's of fun. Easy read and easy to follow. Thanks Laura. "Bon appetit!"
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She bathed and it was the first bath shes had in a while (go back to fds to see the dsmage i have on me)