Recipes are organized as you might expect in any classic French cookbook, starting with a chapter on eggs and then one on cheese, before moving into meaty proteins, salads, vegetables and desserts. Quiches, Tarts, and Savory Pies get their own chapter. Each recipe within gets a personalized twist. She spices a billowy cornmeal soufflé with harissa, infuses mushroom soup with toasted chickpea flour, and takes a favorite Southern summertime dessert “and quite literally turns it on its head” with Peach Cobbler Tatin.
That one’s headed for my oven as soon as the first local peaches arrive. But before spring ends, I want to make that luscious-looking Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Tarragon Tart on the cover that blessedly relies on store-bought puff pastry for the crust.
Her version of ratatouille — in which the legendary vegetable mélange bakes on a sheet pan with chicken parts for a complete hands-off meal — has already passed this household’s taste test. It’s quite a departure from Julia Child’s long-stirring saucepan method. But I suspect the media’s original French Chef would have welcomed the improvisation.
“Dinner in French” by Melissa Clark (Potter, $37.50)
Ratatouille Sheet-Pan Chicken
In her latest cookbook, “Dinner in French,” Melissa Clark simplifies ratatouille by cooking the vegetables on sheet pans, and turns it into a company-worthy main dish by cutting up a chicken and adding it to the pans so that its fat coats and crisps up the vegetables as it cooks. This one is a bit more involved than the average sheet-pan dinner (it requires 3 pans that need to be rotated for even cooking), but it’s well worth the effort. To save a little time, you can marinate the chicken halves, uncovered, up to overnight in the fridge. Already cut-up chicken parts will also work just fine.
Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.
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