Table for Two - Cookbook Review
French Recipes for
by Marianne Paquin
writer Marianne Paquin's latest book is devoted entirely
to gastronomic pleasure for couples. Most of the 80 recipes
are stunningly simple, require a short list of ingredients,
and entail brief preparation and cooking times.
Paquin's Table for Two reminds me of shopping in Paris. You wander
down some side street off the Boulevard St. Germain and
stumble upon a tiny, enchanting shop that sells one item,
like mustard or olive oil. The window display is elegant
and composed, but not over-the-top. You cannot resist taking
a peek inside. An hour later you walk out with a bagful.
Somehow, those ten square meters so perfectly captured the
book's introduction is an excerpt from Brillat-Savarin's Influence of Gourmandism Upon Conjugal Happiness classic,
relevant and right to the point. It sets the stage for what
comes first. Paquin suggests "structured, generous,
full-bodied wines," and develops a winter-perfect menu
with such dishes as Chicken Breasts with Chanterelle Mushrooms
and Wild Rice, Tagliatelli in Cream with Walnuts, Hazelnuts,
Pistachios, Olives and Parma Ham, and Stuffed Fillet of
Cod. The salads are all worthwhile and desserts include
Chocolate Truffles with Custard Sauce. Her
version of delicious chicken requires only eight ingredients
(including pantry staples like salt, pepper and olive oil).
It will take you 20 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to
cook. And that's pretty typical of what you'll find in Table
for Two. Although scattered challenges arise from the
translation, they're easy to solve after a few minutes of
reading and thinking.After
Cocooning in the first chapter, Paquin eases us into Dinner
By Candlelight where Champagne rules and the food is fine:
like Soft-Boiled Eggs with Caviar Fingers, Scallops with
Ginger and Lime, and Lamb Sweetbreads with a Salad of Fava
Beans. Then it's In the Kitchen for informal foods including
Spinach Salad with Egg, Smoked Duck Breast and Roquefort,
Fresh Tuna Pizzas, and Madeleine-inspired Tiny Coconut Hearts.
The dining then goes al fresco in A Riverside Lunch, laden
with the likes of Prawn Toasts with Avocado, Salmon Crêpes
with Herbs, and refreshing Lemon Granitas with Verbena. Figs,
truffles, foie gras and unexpected combinations are big
players in Bedside Dinners. I, for one, cannot imagine skipping
over the Crème Brûlée with Foie Gras,
and when it's in season I'll definitely try Pineapple with
Szechuan Pepper. Springtime on the Terrace is just the right
place to finish, and that's where I would linger over a
glass or two of Muscadet, Spring-Vegetable Tart, and Strawberry
Soup with Mascarpone and Pink Sugar.
for Two is a big, pretty book filled with lots of color,
and plenty of luscious photographs from Jacques Boulay.
The recipes are inspired and exciting but also sensibly
grounded and definitely delicious. Whatever the season or
occasion, think about using this book next time you set
the table for two.
BREASTS WITH CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS AND WILD RICE