Friday, November 21, 2008


I have had the cookbook The French Kitchen by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde for well over a year now. It was one of my first purchases while seeing local England. Joanne Harris is well known for writing the book Chocolat, along with many others ( I highly recommend her, very vivid writing). And as my husband loves my love for French life, he was excited to delve into the culinary aspect of my preferences. So we bought the book. We gazed at the pictures. We read all the recipes and anecdotes, and dreamed of cooking from it.

However, we live in England, and they do not use the same measurements here. Things are measured by weight instead of volume, and I did not have scales. True, I could have ordered the American version of the book, but my love of cooking has caused me to realize weight is a much more accurate way to measure. A few months ago I ordered my Salter scale. It's digital, measures in both grams and ounces, also liquid (I was quite confused on that one) and actually doesn't take up much room at all. I've used it quite often (we use the weight measurements from the Williams-Sonoma cookbooks), but had yet to use it for our favorite cookbook.

Until today. Today I made a nice dinner for us to enjoy. I made up a baby leaf salad, mixed up a Maille dijon vinaigrette, and cooked some salmon filets with lemon and sea salt. But wanting to have a carb of some sort I began looking through our cookbooks. Normally, I would roast some baby potatoes and call it a day, but inspiration struck and I opened French Kitchen.

I chose to do the Boulangere Potatoes. It called for a mandolin, an item I have yet to buy as I slice things quite thin by hand. Today was no exception, I was able to get the majority of the potatoes thin enough you could clearly see light through them, some as thin as wisps of paper. Garret stripped the sprigs of thyme and heated the stock as I sliced and layered the potatoes and onions. The only thing I think I will change next time is to use a smaller but deeper dish, since it took so long to brown the top of these that I think it slightly overcooked the inside (not that you could tell from the way we indulged!). Also, the thick layer upon layer of potatoes would have been more noticeable in a deeper dish, the potatoes cook down in volume quite a bit.

In the end it turned out how I imagined it would, the potatoes layered over each other in, as Garret described it, a fish scale pattern. The top was crispy, the insides soft with an amazing buttery onion and thyme flavor. We will be making this again.

While uploading that photo I realized I never did post the pics of the cake I made. It didn't turn out quite as I had imagined. Instead of all fondant, I ended up using the buttercream base as the real icing, and adding fondant circles. But the guest of honor at the baby shower, and everyone else for that matter, thought it was great, so mission accomplished.

1 comment: