Cook the Books! Around My French Table with Dorie Greenspan


The official start of Cook the Books Cookbook Challenge has arrived! What? You haven’t heard? My friend Briggs and I are hosting a year-long cookbook challenge covering a variety of cookbooks. It is going to be great! We have 12 fantastic cookbooks chosen to explore over the year and we’d love for you to join in! (I’ll remind you how at the end of the post.)

With the abundance of cookbooks out there tempting us, it was really hard to narrow it down to just 12. Cookbooks are just so full of promise, aren’t they? Knowing that we couldn’t cover everything we wanted to cover, we ultimately chose to include cookbooks that:

  • sounded interesting and fun to us
  • we thought would end up using often
  • would stretch our current cooking repertoires
  • represented many types of cooking and/or cuisine

This still left out at least 317 serious contender cookbooks. I mean really? I want them all. You should have seen or heard Briggs and I narrowing it down. There was library hold-shelf stalking. (Yes, this is a real thing. And Briggs and Brown are right next to each other on the hold shelf at the library we frequent.) Gchats. Fast flying emails. Trips to libraries and bookstores. Texts. Autocorrects. Finally, we narrowed to 12. Or, if truth be told, 10… as the last few are still under intense negotiations.

It seemed only right to include some classics. French food is classic. Or at least it is classic to western or global north cuisine. Yet, I didn’t want to take on anything over-the-top fancy or complicated. My apologies to Julia, but I am kinda afraid of something that invokes Mastering the technique-heavy French cooking. My attention to detail leans more to the haphazard side and I tend to be a bit willy-nilly in the kitchen. There is a method to my madness, but it is more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants than well-ingrained technique.

Cook the Books! January!

cook the books! grow and resist cookbook challenge

So… first up? Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I really wanted Dorie’s book precisely because it is not a textbook of classic French cooking. She left academia to follow a passion in food. Throughout her years in Paris, she gathered and mastered recipes from merchants, vendors, restaurants, and friends. Around My French Table is French home-cooking and I love home-cooking of any kind.

Dorie’s books are known for being approachable and full of solid, reliable recipes. We are talking solid I-might-actually-make-this-more-than-once recipes. Readers and cooks adore her. There are online French Fridays with Dorie and Tuesdays with Dorie based on her books.

Around My French Table seemed a perfect foray into current everyday french cooking – a mix of classics, contemporary shortcuts, and the inclusion of international flavors. Beef Daube. Cheese-topped onion soup. Lamb tagine. Chocolate (banana!) tarts. Oh friends, I am excited!

Not only does just about everything single thing look fantastic, but all the ingredients are readily available from any store! No obscure ingredients to order online or spend days searching for (Note: I would not actually do this. Me? I just need things to work out. Cooking that causes unnecessary stress? Not going to happen at this point.) 

I hope you will join in and follow along! Briggs and I will be cooking and blogging throughout the month. It will all come together when we get together to make a kick-ass meal extravaganza for our partners. It is sure to be fantastic!

To play along email us a link to your post by Friday, January 25th, midnight PST and we’ll do a round-up on Wednesday, January 31st.

How Cook the Books works:

  • Get the cookbook and pick something to make. Blog about it. Think virtual cookbook club. Book and recipe review. Friends cooking from the same cookbook. We are interested in your stories about the cooking as much as we are your cooking. There is no month-to-month commitment. Hell, there is no commitment of any kind!
  • Last Friday of the month (usually):  We will alternate between the two of us giving an introduction to the new book.
  • During the 3rd week of the month sometime (likely Friday) you will post your entry for the month.  If you think you are going to participate, drop us a line or leave us a comment so we can make sure we have you in our reader. Don’t have a blog and want to play along? You can leave a comment on the round-up post!
  • Last Wednesday of the month (usually): We will post a round-up of participants.
  • The dates are subject to change, but we will let you know in advance about all dates and/or date changes.
  • We will give you a list of the four books at a time so that you have time to get the book.
  • More info here.



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