"French Comfort Food" the Latest Cookbook by Hillary Davis

Home Cooking Au Francais

The French have a way with food, and Monadnock area resident Hillary Davis has savored and selected the best versions of home-style cooking across France. She lived in Paris for two years and for 11 in the south of France, all the while learning and experimenting with the cuisine.

This book is a beautiful compilation of 80 recipes Davis has adapted for ease and flavor. Find an inspiring gamut of comfort foods from the French version of mac and cheese to a hearty French onion soup to a oven-fresh banana tarte tatin. Each recipe has personal notes and preparation tips. This book will make you want to don an apron and turn up the flame. Bon appétit.


Excerpt and recipe from "French Comfort Food"

Spirals au Pistou (Knitting Needle Spirals with Pistou)

Whether you neatly stack them like logs or heap them in a pile like pick-up-sticks, these crunchy little puff pastry spirals are the perfect accompaniment for wine at l’heure de l’apéro — that point in the day when work is done, the light turns golden and evening is just beginning.

The first time I made them, from a picture in a French magazine, I couldn’t get the shape right. So I played with my knitting needles and came up with a way to produce the lovely spirals. I’ve filled mine with pistou, the Niçoise version of Italian pesto. As the spirals bake, the scent of basil, garlic and cheese fills the kitchen and lingers until the guests arrive.

Makes 24 6-inch spirals

Special Equipment: Food processor, rolling pin, pizza cutter, 1 knitting needle #11–#15 or a chopstick, 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper

5 ounces Parmesan cheese, plus 1⁄2 cup grated
4 large cloves garlic
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4  teaspoon salt
2 dashes cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to grease knitting needle
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Slice the 5 oz. of Parmesan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook Pistou
Toss the garlic, sliced Parmesan, basil, salt and cayenne in a food processor and process for 10 seconds. With the machine running, slowly pour in 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil until the mixture becomes a spreadable paste.

Spirals Lightly flour a clean work surface and unfurl the pastry sheet on it. With the rolling pin, roll out the pastry until it is 12 inches long. Thickly spread the pistou over the bottom half of the rectangle, leaving a 1⁄4-inch border on the left, bottom and right sides. Fold over the top half to cover the bottom half. Using your thumbs, press down all the way around the edges to seal.

Sprinkle the surface with grated Parmesan and black pepper. Gently press down with your fingers then, with the rolling pin, roll up and down until the rectangle is 12 inches long. Using the pizza cutter, cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch strips then cut again vertically to make 6-inch long strips.

Grease the knitting needle with olive oil and loosely wind one of the strips around and around the needle. Slide it off onto a baking sheet. Press the top of the spiral into the baking sheet to secure it, gently stretch out the spiral and press at the other end. Continue until all the spirals are made.

Bake for 9–11 minutes, until golden. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Ideas and substitutions
If you have any pistou leftover, freeze it and use as a topping for pasta.


Categories: Book Reviews, Features