"A Ray of Sunshine on Your Plate"
Thrilled to receive this outstanding book for review. You will enjoy Chef's writing style and return to its pages again and again to feast on the photos and be coax into choosing your next dish to attempt. Yes, it definitely contains a chef’s recipes yet even as a home cook I feel he believes in me. I am empowered!
Book Review: Cuisine of the Sun, A Ray of Sunshine on Your Plate
Author: Francois de Mélogue
Image by François de Mélogue © Kurman Communications Inc.
Multitalented Chef François de Mélogue gifts us with style, wit, personal Rants, beautiful photography, and his story-telling inspires me to become a better cook.
Chef remembers his mother, “She was a free spirited natural who cooked like a jazz musician riffs. Edible poetry in constant motion. She had a fearless style that was never daunted by lengthy recipes or even the need to follow them religiously.”
And, he tells us, “I often told apprentices in my kitchens that you can give two equal cooks the exact same bag of groceries and even the same recipe and you will end up with two different dishes. The person who cooks with passion and love always prepares the tastier, more soul satisfying meal. …Emotion is intoned and verbalized in food. Food and emotion are so strongly interconnected perhaps science cannot rationally document that phenomena." (p. 13)
You experience the emotion and intense love of creation using the best possible produce and proteins available. Chef encourages me/us to seek out local farmer’s markets, a butcher you can talk with, and add herbes de Provence and French Olive Oil to the pantry.
Chef de Mélogue tempts us to improve our cooking skill with A Simple Roast Chicken,Ten Easy Rules for a Perfect Chicken (p. 62) and implores us to be mindful of the value, both for our food preparation and wallet, of making and maintaining our own stock as a home kitchen staple.
“In my kitchens, my crew was taught to save vegetable trimmings for use in the countless stocks that quietly simmer around the clock in professional kitchens.. … I started applying that concept in my own home. I keep a stainless steel bowl in my freezer. Every time I peel a carrot, garlic or an onion I add the peelings to it. After a week it fills up. The most commonly used vegetable peelings that end up in there are fresh herbs (thyme, tarragon, chives and rosemary), celery, garlic, tomatoes and sweet peppers. … I use stock for pan steaming both my morning and dinner vegetables. I use it for quick sauces for my lunchtime proteins and I absolutely adore soups. The use for stocks is unlimited and easily provides a lot of umami to home cooking. Most days I have a stock pot sitting on my stove bubbling away, filling my home with delicious scents and my tummy with great favors!” (p. 64-65)
There are great sounding recipes — just read through the table of contents and be wowed by dishes like, “Cured Black Cod: Fried Chickpeas, Piquillos, Chorizo Croquettes & Anchoïade” or “Beef Cheek Daube: Slow Cooked Beef, Olive & Orange stew, Saffron Risotto.” And then there is “Tomato Confit.”
Chef reminds us to slow roast tomatoes to add to, or serve alongside our dishes. (p. 81) Sounds simple enough but how many of us routinely do this rather than just using them raw in salads and sandwiches? This cookbook will appeal to cooks regardless of their current cooking skills and, to chefs as inspiration, and even if you don’t cook, it’s an excellent read that will whet your appetite for excellence in all your next meals.