Sunday 1 November 2009

Rôtis: Roasts for everyday of the week - Stéphane Reynaud

I'm married to a Frenchman whose favourite meal is an English Sunday roast dinner so this book was bound to appeal to me !

The recipes are grouped by type of meat and each chapter is based around a day of the week : Monday is beef, Tuesday's veal, Wednesday's poultry, Thursday's pork, Friday's fish (I'd never have thought of roasting fish but it looks delicious !), Saturday's lamb and Sunday is game - and as seven days isn't enough to pack it all in, Sunday night is leftovers (and not "all the rest" as it's misleadingly translated). Stéphane also includes a selection of vegetable dishes but vegetarians and vegans, keep away, there's nothing much here for you in this book ! Coming from a French chef, it is hardly surprising to see there are also wine recommendations.

I love the contents page, with the days of the week in French (reminiscent of my early French classes at school !) and little red and white animal drawings. The recipes themselves are clearly presented, with an at-a-glace guide to cooking and prep time, to help you choose which dish to create. The "How would you like your beef cooked ?" advice made me smile because you have the choice of very rare, rare or medium - but not the popular English well-done, which would make French gourmet-lovers squeal "sacré bleu" and claim it's old shoe leather !

On the subject of beef, the photos representing the dishes are nice enough but they all tend to look the same - and the very-red-in-the-middle beef roasts may be deemed perfectly cooked by our Gallic counterparts but would be unappealingly underdone to most British readers.

There are some great French classics in here that aren't widely known in Britain - Béarnaise sauce (similar to the commonly used Tartare sauce), French-style green peas (with bacon and onions - yum), piperade and ratatouille (made with Mediterranean vegetables) and the divinely-creamy potato dish, gratin dauphinois. Some of the ingredients may seem unusual or exotic on this side of the Channel but they are classic French-storecupboard basics - French cheeses, Dijon mustard, "endives" (which I always thought translated as chicory but they are called witlof here), goat's cheese ... Try them and I guarantee you won't just be bringing back wine and baguettes on your next day-trip to France !

There are some delicious-sounding recipes in this book - I definitely want to try the peanut-covered caramel roast veal - but some of them sound slightly weird and wacky. I've lived in France for nearly 15 years and have never come across (nor want to !) "beef fillet with garlic and snails" - is this French chef toying with his British readers ?! Other combinations sound vaguely unappealing but the proof of the pudding would be in the eating - whole roast duck with sugared almonds ? roast pigeon ? rolled roast rabbit with kidneys ? They're certainly different but I think I'd rather stick with chicken or lamb thanks ! Other times, it's the cooking method rather than the ingredients that seem a bit crazy - lamb shoulder in a bed of straw ? (Yes, really !) And the cooking times go from one extreme to the other - from 15 minutes for roast beef (it might as well still be running around the field !!) to "7-hour roast pork".

The Sunday night leftovers recipes sound gorgeous and give some great ideas for credit-crunch quick suppers - Thai-style beef croquettes, stuffed tomatoes and peppers, moussaka, lasagne, "the Sunday-night TV sandwich" ...

It's a book that offers some wonderful hearty family meals, guaranteed to get you all seated together around the dining-room table ... except maybe that beef with garlic and snails !!

RRP: £17.99

star rating : 4.5/5

Hardcover: 168 pages
Publisher: Murdoch Books (5 Oct 2009)
ISBN-10: 1741965373
ISBN-13: 978-1741965377

1 comment:

  1. I just got this book for Christmas and can't wait to try it out! Great review- very helpful!


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