Bake the Book: Frenchie


[Photograph: Djamel Dine Zitout]

Born in France and raised in an orphanage in Nantes, chef Greg Marchand sought refuge in the kitchen. Early on, he learned the pleasure that comes from feeding others, and proceeded to do so in kitchens in London, Hong Kong, New York, and Paris. His varied training and broad culinary education shines in Frenchie, which contains recipes from his eponymous Parisian restaurant. Nicknamed 'Frenchie' from a stint in Jamie Oliver's kitchen, the name stuck, and it serves as a mark of pride.

Frenchie is a visual primer on everything that makes Greg Marchand unique. Not entirely French, but never forgetting his roots, his technique is free and easy, but sharply intelligent. It might seem like a shortcut to rip peaches up by hand to serve in a rustic summer salad, but Marchand does so because the flavor of the dressing is better able to penetrate the flesh. Frenchie is filled with examples like these, where food is cooked more by feel and flavor balance rather than tedious measuring and arranging. Of course, these are recipes simplified for the home cook, but that's what makes it great; Marchand is clearly excited about the food he prepares, and has found a way to make it exciting for you, too.

The book itself is bright and bold, with the kind of in-your-face photography that has become so popular in current cookbooks. It's also arranged by season, an organizational technique that is both de rigeur and logical. After all, when your fruit and vegetable supplier work on the same street as your restaurant, why not maximize the bounty of each season?

As always, we are here for dessert. We've plucked several gems from the pages of "Frenchie" that highlight Marchand's penchant for seasonal food and bold, inventive flavor pairings. The best example of this is a Brillat-Savarin Cheesecake with Mango and Passionfruit, a very French take on the classic dessert. Its thin coating of passionfruit glaze is the very thing a palate aches for after a long, cold winter. In that vein, we're also making Chamomile Panna Cotta and Citrus Soup, a panacea for winter's harshness. The herby gentleness of chamomile is beautifully offset by the tang of citrus. In keeping with the theme of exotic fruits, there is also Chocolate and Passionfruit Pots de Creme with Lychee and Candied Ginger, a panoply of fruit flavors enhanced with chocolate. Lastly, to ease us into spring, we shall have Strawberries, Poached Rhubarb, and Shortbread Cookies.

If you're lucky enough to live in or travel to Paris, visit Frenchie on the rue du Nil, which has been transformed from an unloved street into a bustling hub, containing the original bistro, Frenchie Bar a Vins, and Frenchie to Go, a takeout spot featuring Marchand's favorite foods from around the world.

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at Artisan, we are giving away five (5) copies of Frenchie this week. All you have to do is share the name of your favorite French indulgence.

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