La Cuisinière Provençale
When we’re not completely sure about a sauce or a dish, we search for a recipe and inspiration in La Cuisinière Provençale. This comprehensive cookbook was first published in 1897 and was written by Jean-Baptiste Reboul. It includes 1119 recipes for an enormous variety of dishes and it provides background information on fish, meat and vegetables. It also gives traditional, seasonal, French suggestions for lunch and dinner for every day of the year. For instance for today, the third Monday of May, the two course lunch consists of moules farcies aux épinards et tendrons de veau bourgeoise. Or in English, mussels stuffed with spinach and veal tenderloins with carrots and onions.
You will find chapters about soups, hors d’œuvres, typical Provençal dishes, fish, sauces, mutton, veal, vegetables, eggs, jams and everything else you can think of.
This is one of the few cookbooks that uses the concept of formulas. For example: the recipe for Truite à la Meunière is very short: it simple states a few specific steps and then refers to formula 135, the one for Loup à la Meunière. We like this concept because it supports the idea that you can and should be flexible with ingredients. If for instance you can bake a pie with chard, then it’s probably a similar formula to bake a pie with wild spinach or beet leaves.
The recipes do not come with a separate list of ingredients, so you must make your own shopping list while reading the recipe. Not great, but we got used to it. The advantage is of course that the publisher could squeeze in even more recipes in the book.
Daube Provençale is one of our favourites from this book. It is not too much work and you can also be fairly flexible with the recipe, as long as you use excellent, marbled beef. Well known chef Hélène Barale (La Cuisine Niçoise, Mes 106 Recettes) uses beef, veal and pork with tomatoes and dried mushrooms, Hilaire Walden (French Provincial Cooking) suggests marinating the beef in red wine and adds orange peel and olives whereas La Cuisinière Provençale suggests adding vinegar to the marinade but doesn’t use tomatoes, mushrooms or olives. We use carrots, shallot, garlic, mushrooms, black olives and red wine to make an intense, heart-warming stew.
La Cuisinière Provençale (in French only) is for sale via your local bookstore or the well known channels for 25 Euro or US dollar.