Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells
Think France, think Paris, a nice small bistro in a small street, off centre, 15th arrondissement, nothing fancy and not a Michelin star in sight. It’s 12.00, time for a quick lunch. You enter the restaurant, take a seat and order today’s dish, the plat du jour. It turns out to be a generous helping of lentils with two fried sausages, mashed potatoes and mustard. A beer works beautifully with it. After having enjoyed your lunch, you think about the joy of good food, French mustard and the beauty of lentils. Time for coffee.
It’s the kind of dish you would expect in a book called Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells. In the book we found two recipes with lentils, one salad and one soup with smoked sausages, the delicious Montbéliard.
When going through the index we spotted a recipe for a salad with squid, tomatoes, thyme and red wine vinegar. Unfortunately, our fish monger is on holiday, so we had to use pre-cooked octopus as an alternative. The salad is colourful, tasty and uplifting. A great starter, especially when enjoyed with a glass of rosé.
For years Brasserie Flo was not only the name of an excellent brasserie in Paris, it was also a chain of restaurants in Nice, Metz, Barcelona and of course Paris (Julien, Terminus Nord, La Coupole and many more). In 2018 the original Brasserie Flo was renamed Floderer, after one of its founders. One of the recipes in Bistro Cooking is called Brasserie Flo’s Roast Duck. The name caught our attention and we decided to prepare it. The main ingredient is a whole duck, roasted in the oven. A bit too much for the two of us so we decided to combine the vegetable sauce with pan fried breast of duck. We expected the sauce to be fairly simple (tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, Herbes de Provence) but the result was delicious and a great accompaniment of the duck. Patricia Wells serves her duck with a glass of Julienas, a cru from the Beaujolais. Very good choice. We opened a bottle of Gamay made by Domaine La Tour Beaumont from the Loire region.
Bistro Cooking includes pictures of typical Bistro scenes showing waiters serving food, people reading their paper and enjoying a small coffee or guests sitting on a small terrace drinking an aperitif while chatting with friends. The pictures illustrate the typical bistro atmosphere and show France like it was and sometimes, if you’re lucky, still is.
All recipes benefit from a nice introduction, discussing the origin of the recipe or one of the ingredients. Should Bistro Cooking be on your bookshelf? Yes, if you enjoy comfortable, warm and tasty food and are not too much influenced by today’s culinary trends.
What You Need (Salad with Octopus)
Octopus, 3 Ripe Tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of chopped Parsley, 1 Scallion, 1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Pinch of Thyme, Pinch of Chili Flakes
What You Do (Salad with Octopus)
If using squid, cook the rings quickly in water until soft. Or better, let them stew slowly (!) in olive oil until soft. Peel, core, seed and cube the tomatoes. Chop the parsley. Thinly slice the scallion. Make a dressing by combining the vinegar, the lemon juice and the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, the parsley, the scallion, the thyme and the chili flakes. Add the sliced octopus (or the squid), mix and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Enjoy with crusted bread.
What You Need (Brasserie Flo’s Duck) –
Breast of Duck
For the Sauce 100 grams of Onions, 100 grams of Mushrooms, 400 grams of Tomatoes, Teaspoon of Herbes de Provence, 1 Garlic Clove, Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Thyme, Bay Leave), 25 grams of Green Olives, pitted, 25 grams of Black Olives pitted, Black Pepper, Fresh Parsley
What You Do
Peel and chop the onions. Chop the garlic. Peel, core, quarter and seed the tomatoes. Slice the mushrooms. Cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms, the tomatoes, the Herbes de Provence, the garlic, the olives and the bouquet garni. Season with black pepper. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for one hour, stirring from time to time. Transfer the duck from the refrigerator to the pan and fry for 12-15 minutes on the fat side and 2-3 minutes on the meat side. Wrap in aluminium foil but don’t cover the fat. This way it will remain crispy. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the lid from the pan and reduce the liquid. Add a teaspoon of the duck fat and the meat juice. Add a generous amount of chopped parsley to the vegetable sauce. Slice the meat and serve on top of the sauce.
Thank you Jeen and Michiel for this excellent review. You certainly live up to the name of your blog, Cook and Drink – The Art of Flavors, https://cookanddrink.org.