Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook

Mireille Guilliano, businesswoman extraordinaire and author took time out of her busy schedule recently to speak with me. Yes, me. I behaved myself rather well and didn't fall apart despite the fact that I was beyond nervous to speak to such an icon. I think I blathered on a bit too much about how I'd love to live in Provence, but she was gracious enough to listen to me.

I had read her first book, French Women Don't Get Fat, several years ago and, forgive the pun, absolutely devoured it. I, like so many American women, was searching for the answer to my expanding waistline and the best way to manage it. I thought then, and still think now, that Mireille hit the proverbial nail on the head with her book.

She espoused a more austere form of eating that had more to do with enjoying what one eats than how much one eats. There was no calorie counting or strict rules, just a common sense approach that was a sort of forehead slapping moment once I'd read it. Rather than the whole chicken, why not just a breast - and slowly consumed at that?

We are so busy and unfocused in America that eating has gone from pleasurable and deliberate to haphazard and as fast as we can get it. Mireille gently but effectively redirected us and has now expanded on her first book with a perfectly sensible and wonderfully delicious cookbook.

We chatted about college and the 'freshman 15', how food choices away from home are often difficult to make wisely (she knew this all too well from her own college days) and how getting to know your food can help to make better choices.

Her advice to parents wanting to make a family-wide change is to take your children to the market and helping them to connect with their food and where it comes from. Letting them help prepare is also a great way to help them want to eat better.

Over at Half Hour Meals we like to ask our interviewees which ingredients they can't live without. Mireille shared hers with me:

Dairy - especially cheese. Mireille has cheese every day.
Eggs - for their versatility and thrift. They're also quick to prepare for unexpected company.
Fresh fruits and vegetables.
Olive oil

There are 150 recipes in the The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook - several from her other books because they were requested so often - and each one looks divine.

I'm completely smitten with her Miracle Breakfast Cream and I prepared the Caramelized Chicken with Vegetable “Pancake” and it was one of the best chicken dishes I've ever eaten and so quick and easy to prepare that it's become a regular dish here. In fact, you can watch Mireille prepare it here:

Caramelized Chicken with Vegetable “Pancake”
• S e r v e s 4 •

For the Vegetable Pancake

1 carrot, washed and grated
2 medium potatoes, peeled
and grated
1 small zucchini, washed
and grated
1 garlic clove, peeled and
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground

1. Place the grated carrot, potatoes, and zucchini
in the center of a large, clean kitchen towel. Wrap
tightly and squeeze as much liquid as possible
from the vegetables. Unroll and place the grated
vegetables in a large bowl. Add the garlic, thyme,
and 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix well.

2. In a large, nonstick sauté pan, heat the remaining
2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the vegetable mixture to the pan, pressing
down so the pancake is about 1/2 inch thick and
cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Carefully
flip the pancake over (you can invert onto a
plate first and slide back into the pan if you are
nervous about the pancake falling apart) and continue
cooking until the other side is crisp and
golden and the vegetables are cooked, another 8 to
10 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Season to taste.

For the caramelized Chicken

1 lemon, rinsed, dried, and
12 small green olives, pitted
and cut in half
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless,
boneless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine the lemon, olives, red
pepper flakes, honey, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon
olive oil. Add the chicken breasts, season to
taste, and stir to coat.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a
large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the
chicken-lemon-olive mixture and sauté until the
chicken is cooked through and slightly caramelized,
about 8 minutes per side. Serve the chicken
with lemon and olives and accompanied by a
wedge of the vegetable pancake.

I so appreciate Mireille speaking with me and enlightening me about her books and her way of life - I love this cookbook and highly recommend it - there are no overly fussy recipes, just quick, delicious food that will satisfy more than your tummy.

Book provided by and interview arranged through Simon and Schuster.


H2 said...

Hola, Anne! dondon and hery from the kitchenette of monkey and mouse just gave you a blog award because your blog is awesome :)

Mas-Raden said...

thats very nice blog

i like it
hi from mas raden

Sarah said...

Anne! I just wanted to stop by and tell you how I just can't seem to live w/o your recipes.

You shared some at LOK quite a while ago, but I printed them, tried some out, and still use them.

We had your lemonade on Sunday.. couldn't wait more than an hour or so to drink it... it must be amazing if I actually waited since it was great with the short wait.

We've got the cheddar baked potatoes in the oven as I type, my oldest LOVES them. And cobb salad sandwich and lime ranch ck are also staples during the summer around here.

So I know this doesn't have anything to do with what you posted, just wanted to stop by and let you know. And I'm using DD's name since I still don't have an account yet.

I hope life lightens up for you. You have definitely enriched ours with your cooking.

Anne Coleman said...

How perfectly sweet of you to say so! Made my day :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Love both of these recipes. I should give that cookbook a look. I am SO not French in my eating habits. I'm a big devourer and if I just stopped shoveling my food in, I think I might do better with my diet.

chow and chatter said...

i bet its a great book love the way the French eat

Heidi said...

I recently heard on Oprah, "Eat with gusto!" and I would add "not with guilt!" This books seems to align with that suggestion. Can't wait to try this recipe!

La lanterna dei sogni said...

Nice Blog... and good recipe!