Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells
Most simply, a bistro is “a small neighborhood restaurant serving home-style, substantial fare…. In bistros, people don’t whisper, they shout, and diners are on a first-name basis with the harried waitress…. You might not even get to choose what you eat or drink. The patron may usurp this right. And in bistros, you will often find yourself chatting across tables with perfect strangers, sharing their platter of french fries while you wait for yours to come sizzling from the kitchen.” BISTRO COOKING, INTRODUCTION, PATRICIA WELLS.
With an introduction like that, who would not want to read more or at least not yearn to transport themself to the nearest Parisian bistro? And ‘transport’ this cookbook definitely does. With over 200 recipes celebrating simple, rustic, and flavourful French cuisine, accompanied by concise step-by-step instructions, the mouth-watering food of small back-alley bistros immediately comes to life. I am not much of a meat-eater and seldom eat pork. Still, I was compelled to try the dish that Wells credits as one of the first bistro meals she and her husband sampled in France. Just like Julia Child’s first bite of sole meunière that was a game-changer for Childs, Saucisson Chaud Pommes à l’Huile has a profound impact on Wells. Without further ado, here is my attempt at this recipe with only one modification (which I will tell you about at the end).
Saucisson Chaud Pommes à l’HuileThe Recipe Seriously, how easy does this recipe sound? It was so simple that I didn’t even employ Richard for chopping. (He snoozed on the couch while I prepared our meal. But I did leave him with cleanup!)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 shallots, finely minced
- 360 grams fresh country-style sausage
- 750 grams small red potatoes
- 1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
- Small handful fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine EVOO + shallots in small bowl.
- Lightly simmer sausage on stove for 30-40 mins.
- Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain, then slice potatoes.
- Whisk sherry into oil and shallots.
- Add potatoes to vinaigrette, top with parsley.
- Mound potato mixture in centre of plate and surround with cooked sausages.
The Results: This dish was as easy to prepare as it sounds. All steps, from laying out the ingredients to serving the completed meal, took approximately 45 minutes (all at a very leisurely pace). Most importantly, it looked good on our plates and tasted even better. Richard and I agreed this was a wonderfully satisfying recipe (and quite a change from our regular weeknight fare). I will definitely be making it again.
ABOUT THAT ONE SIMPLE MODIFICATION I followed the ingredients, measurements, and recipe steps precisely as written, except for one substitution. Have you already guessed what it was?
Exactly! I swapped out country pork sausage with Field Roast Italian Garlic and Fennel Plant-Based Links. Richard and I had tried vegetarian sausages before but have yet to like them. Field Roast Italian Links use traditional sausage-making practices but replace the meat with fresh eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic, lemon, red wine and apple cider vinegar. They held together brilliantly, and the flavour and texture were impressive (Richard knows I am not likely to cook with pork but guessed that they were turkey sausages — usually the next closest in taste to pork). Although this alternative reduced the fat and saturated fat of traditional pork while increasing the protein, iron and calcium, they still contained gluten and remained high in sodium. Here is the nutritional breakdown.
Les Restes Another benefit of Bistro Cooking is that it is filled with tips to make home cooking easier and more efficient, including tips for using leftovers (les restes). Although the recipe I used was meant to serve four people, at the end of our meal, we had very little food remaining (a sign of a delicious dinner). But we did have enough to transform into breakfast the following day. Perfect! We must have been hungrier than we first thought! Still, there was just enough for breakfast the next day!
THE FINAL VERDICT This review was written as part of Cookbook Confidential Book Club. For each review, our burning question remains “Is this cookbook worthy of taking precious space on your kitchen bookshelf (and hard-earned cash from your pocket)? While I don’t personally feel the need for a physical copy, the Kindle edition is currently available in Canada for $3.99. That’s a great bargain for this quick trip to France!
Retirement Reflections Prior to retirement, Donna lived and worked in Beijing, China, for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, she and her husband retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document this transition and their new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born
Donna Connolly http://www.retirementreflections.com
Thank you, Donna, for the wonderful review of Bistro Cooking and also telling us about Oops Vegan, and giving us a review of their product.