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Around My French Table

Christine's Simple Party Soups

Gerard's Mustard Tart

Chocolate Eclairs with Thick Ganache

Osso Buco a L'Arman

Vanilla Vegetable Salad

Roasted Peppers

Around My French Table

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When Julia Child told Dorie Greenspan, "You write recipes just the way I do," she paid her the ultimate compliment. Julia's praise was echoed by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, which referred to Dorie's "wonderfully encouraging voice" and "the sense of a real person who is there to help should you stumble."

Now in a big, personal, and personable book, Dorie captures all the excitement of French home cooking, sharing disarmingly simple dishes she has gathered over years of living in France.

Around My French Table includes many superb renditions of the great classics: a glorious cheese-domed onion soup, a spoon-tender beef daube, and the "top-secret" chocolate mousse recipe that every good Parisian cook knows--but won't reveal. More...

Dorie Greenspan

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

I WAS RECENTLY MARRIED, JUST OUT of college, and working at my first grown-up job when Michael, my husband, came into a bit of money, a few hundred dollars that seemed to fall from the sky. He took one look at the check and thought, "Car payments!" I, ever the romantic, saw it and almost screamed, "Paris!"

Whoever said screaming will get you nothing was wrong. A month later, we landed in France...

...There were a million reasons I took Paris into my heart. Everything about the city entranced me, from the way the women walked on towering stiletto heels over bumpy cobblestoned streets to how old-fashioned neighborhood restaurants still had cubbyholes where regulars could keep their napkin rings. I loved the rhythm of Parisian life, the sound of the language, the way people sat in cafes for hours...

...I'm convinced my fate turned on a strawberry tartlet. We were walking up the very chic rue Saint-Honore, pressing our noses against the windows of the fashionable stores and admiring everything we couldn't afford, when the tartlet, a treat within our means, called out to me. It was the first morsel I had on French soil, and more than thirty years later, I still think it was the best tartlet of my life, a life that became rich in tartlets.

This one was a barquette, a boat-shaped tartlet so teensy that all it could hold was a lick of pastry cream and three little strawberries, but everything about it excited me. The crust was so beautifully baked and flaky that when I took the first bite, small shards of it flew across my scarf. It was butter that gave the crust its texture, remarkable flavor, and deep golden color, and a little more butter and pure vanilla that made the pastry cream so memorable.

And those strawberries. They were fraises des bois--tiny wild strawberries--but I had no idea of that then. What I did know was that they tasted like real strawberries, whose flavor I must have subconsciously tucked away in my memory...

...FOR YEARS I CONTINUED TO TRAVEL BACK and forth between New York City and France. Then thirteen years ago, I became truly bicontinnental. Michael and I moved into an apartment in Paris's 6th arrondissement, and I got the French life I couldn't ever have really imagined but had always longed for. Finally I could be a regular in the small shops of my neighborhood and at the vendors' stalls at the market, and nicest of all, I could cook for my French friends, and they for me....

...This is elbows-on-the-table food, dishes you don't need a Grand Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu to make. It's the food I would cook for you if you came to visit me in Paris--or New York City, where all of these were tested. The ingredients are readily available in the United States, almost everything can be bought at your neighborhood supermarket, and the techniques are straightforward and practical, as they must be--French home cooks are as busy as we are.

Holding this book of recipes, a record of my time in France, I have the sense of something meant to be: the reason that Michael and I ended up with plane tickets and a strawberry tartlet all those years ago...

Provencal Vegetable Soup

Provencal Vegetable Soup

THIS CLASSIC DISH FROM THE SOUTH OF FRANCE is SO typical of what we love in America that it's easy to imagine it coming from Napa Valley. It's technically a soup, but it's so jam-packed with vegetables that it could double as a stew and a whole summer meal. The only ingredient that must appear in it is the pistou, or French pesto. (In fact, the French call this soupe au pistou.) You can play around with the vegetables, although I'd suggest you keep the zucchini, green beans, garlic, tomato, potato, and beans. I use canned beans--chickpeas or cannellini--but dried flageolets or white or red beans are more traditional. If you’re using dried beans, soak them in cold water for about an hour, then simmer until almost tender; drain before you add them to the soup.

In this version, I've used macaroni and every vegetable that I've ever had in a soupe au pistou plus one: corn, which I love for its color, crunch, and sweetness.

Makes about 6 servings

You can add the pesto to the soup in the pot, or you can ladle the soup into bowls and add a big spoonful to each serving. Either way, top each bowl with a few drops of olive oil and scatter over the fresh basil leaves. You can add some Parmesan or pass it at the table.

The soup can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, but after you reheat it, the pasta will be pretty mushy. If the soup thickens too much in the fridge, as it probably will, thin it with a little water or broth.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 slender carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • 1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup small pasta (elbow, fusilli, or mini penne)
  • 1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 cup rinsed canned chickpeas or cannellini beans (or 1/2 cup dried beans; see above)
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into
  • 1/2-inch half-moons
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes, or a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut into cubes (no need to peel or seed)
  • 1 ear fresh corn, husked and kernels sliced off

  • Basil Pesto, to finish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to finish
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, torn or cut into shreds
  • Grated or shaved Parmesan, for serving

Pour the olive oil into a large casserole--a stockpot or a Dutch oven that holds at least 5 quarts--and warm it over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, season fairly generously with salt (about 1/4 teaspoon), and white pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon), lower the heat, and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the broth or water and herbs and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the carrots and potato and cook for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the beans (green and canned) and zucchini and cook for 10 minutes more. (This is not a soup in which any of the vegetables should be crunchy.) Finally, add the tomatoes and corn kernels and cook for 3 minutes.

Finish the soup with some pesto, drizzle with a little olive oil, and scatter the basil over the top. Top with Parmesan, or pass the cheese at the table.

Copyright © 2010 by Dorie Greenspan and Alan Richardson. Reprinted from Around My French Table with permission from Houghton Mifflin.

Dorie Greenspan

About Dorie Greenspan:

Called a "culinary- guru" by the New York Times and inducted into the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America, Doric Greenspan is the author of the James Beard Award-winning Baking: From My Home to Yours and Baking with Julia. She has been passionately involved with French cooking for the last three decades. She was a food writer and recipe tester at Elle magazine and worked with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud. With Pierre Herme, Dorie wrote Desserts by Pierre Herme, winner of Cookbook of the Year from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, winner of the Gourmand prize for the best cookbook in the English language. She is also the author of Paris Sweets. Dorie is a contributing editor for Parade, a long-time special correspondent for Bon Appetit, and a frequent guest on NPR.

She lives in New York City; Westbrook, Connecticut and Paris.

Also by Dorie Greenspan:

Paris Sweets


Chocolate Desserts


Baking with Julia

Sweet Times

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