French Classics Made Easy: A Review

June 17, 2011

We seem to have the impression that French food is overly fussy and time consuming.  In Richard Grausman's new book, French Classics Made Easy, he makes French food accessible everyday for the home cook.  He provides readers with the basic knowledge for a recipe while letting them be creative.  Also, he has liberally cut the quantity of fat, salt, and sugar in recipes, saying that they "far exceed the dishes' needs."  This book, of course, is an interpretation of French food and the author admits that his recipes are "free from the restraint of the classic French kitchen."  This being said, Grausman remains true to the nature of the dish and its basic flavors.

The book is divided into five sections: first courses, main courses, vegetable and other accompaniments, pastries and desserts, and basics.  In total, the book features 250 recipes.  Each recipe is layed out in an easy to follow step by step fashion.  Most recipes have notes that contain time saving tips, serving suggestions, wine recommendations, and dish variations.  I especially love the suggested variations because it expands the cook's repertoire and allows them to practice other cooking techniques.  You will find all the classic French dishes from 10 minutes souffles, to a quick cassoulet, to a modern bouillabaisse.

We have been spoiled by cookbooks with beautiful photos that make you want to run to the kitchen and cook.  Grausman's book does not contain any photos, rather techniques are illustrated by drawings (similar to those seem in Cook's Illustrated).  Having no photos often discourages cooks because they are unable to visualize the final product.  However, the omission of photos does keep the cost of the book low.   I personally feel it is a book that I can take into the kitchen with me and not worry about ruining it.  This book gives home cooks the chance to try all the recipes that they believed they didn't have time for.

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Richard Grausman's picture

Thanks for your thoughtful review. For all readers of my book, I offer "House Calls". If you have any problems or questions about the recipes, just send me an e-mail and photos if possible and I will solve them with a return e-mail. Send call for help to:

Richard Grausman