Your Kitchen Can Be a Bistro Too

Wonderful memories of France and mouth watering bites of simple, yet elegant, dining come to mind as you browse through
Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells. It's not just a cookbook; it's a visit to French kitchens. All 200 recipes transport you to another place, accompanied by new friends: the fishmonger, the baker, the gardener and the local chef, all providing their recommendations and personal tips for culinary success, as well as serving suggestions.

Bistros are establishments that serve uncomplicated home cooking. In other words, French comfort food. They're found everywhere, from Paris to the smallest country town. Their hallmarks include local produce, fresh herbs, the butchers' best and hot baguettes always served, of course, with a local wine.

Wells' recipes use typical French ingredients, and you'll find almost all of them available in your local grocery store. The recipes are easy to understand and replicate at home, normally in six steps or less. There are no complicated cooking terms. The measurements suggested are precise and the cooking times are accurate. I've prepared more than half of the dishes, many of them multiple times. Whether you're an accomplished cook, or a beginner, you'll enjoy tremendous success with these recipes.

My favorites include Roast Leg of Lamb with Potato, Onion and Tomato Gratin, an easy, elegant and delicious one-dish meal for even the fanciest occasion; Provencal Mussels, prepared with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and white wine; and Fresh Pineapple Flan, a creamy custard poured over pineapple wedges and baked until golden.

There's also a list, of well over 100, of Wells' favorite bistros located throughout France in a chapter titled "When In France." This is more than just a nice touch; it's a jackpot of dining information. Among her long list of credentials, Wells has been the food critic for
The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune. Her most famous book is The Food Lover's Guide to Paris, now in its 4th printing.

I highly recommend the book. It will create vivid, happy pictures in your mind of reading menus in old town Nice, visiting friends at a farmhouse in Provence and eating a plat-du-jour lunch in Lyon, even if you've never been there. And, best of all, you'll be able to recreate these wonderful recipes, time and time again, with complete confidence. Your guests will pay you the greatest compliment possible: enjoying your food.