Two posts in one day?? Go team! Well… they kind of go together so I figured I would post them on the same day. Wini Moranville is the author of The Bonne Femme Cookbook – the next book in my cook along book club project! She has graciously given me a bit of her time to answer some questions. Thanks so much Wini!

Simply Fresh – In the ‘About Wini’ section of your book’s website, you mention that you have been spending the summers in France since the early 90s. In all that time, while learning the French Food culture, what would you say was the biggest surprise, or difference, in the way the French approach food compared to us those of us in North America? 

Winni Moranville – For me, what is surprising is how little the French fuss when entertaining. Most cooks that I know on this side of the Atlantic really knock themselves out when gathering friends in their homes. But I just loved the easygoing way that French women cook for friends. They’ll bring a few of their favourite dishes to the table, yes, but round out the offerings with the best artisanal foods their towns offer: great charcuterie and olives, fabulous cheeses and breads, and gorgeous pastry-shop treats. Often in my book, I offer ways to round out the menu with such items so you truly do not have to go crazy in the kitchen when having guests. 

What has been your favourite French dish to eat out? And which is your favourite to make at home? 

I love Sole Meuniere (sauted sole finished with a browned butter) and other bonne femme classics, like choucroute garnie, coq au vin, beef bourguignon, and any number of French daubes (stews). In summer, I’m a huge fan of composed salads—I just love the way the way chefs at seaside resorts combine really good fresh ingredients for main-dish salads. 

Many of these dishes are also home favourites, but at home, I cook a lot of dishes in the “Sauté, Deglaze, and Serve” mode. I devote an entire chapter to the book; each recipe calls on sautéing the nights meat in a pan, deglazing that pan with wine and broth while stirring up those yummy pan juices; each recipe comes with its own touch, apples and apple brandy for Chicken Calvados, olive and garlic with lamb chops, capers and mustard for pork chops, etc. It’s 30-minute cooking at its true-to France best.

Thanks so much Wini!

What made you decide to write a cookbook?

As a food writer and editor, I was often surprised at how many home cooks think that French cooking is expensive, indulgent (lots of butter and cream), and difficult. Yet everyday French home cooking isn’t necessarily any of these things. French women work outside the home as much as we do—but at the end of their days, they want to eat splendidly, night after night. I decided to write a book about how they do it. 

My readers and I are planning to cook a few recipes from The Bonne Femme as part of our Cook Along Book Club – do you have any recommendations for recipes from the book that we simply have to make? 

That’s a hard question! I suggest making whatever sounds really good to you. As for my personal favourites: For sit-down start salads, I love the Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese, the Melty Goat Cheese Salad with Honey and Pine Nuts, and the Belgian Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts.

For a quick weeknight meal, try the Pork Medallions with Apricot-Sage Sauce (use pork chops if you prefer), the Chicken Francese, or the Coconut Shrimp. Serve these with Any-Night Baked Rice. Also try the Choucroute Garni Mardi Soir—even if you think you don’t like sauerkraut, you should give this a try—once you’ve had sauerkraut the French way, you may change your mind.

For friends, try my Blanquette de Pork or the Boeuf Bourgignon. Both are great with the Any-Night Baked Rice.

For dessert, everyone should try Floating Islands at least once in their lives—and remember, you don’t have to make the caramel and chocolate sauces yourself. Buy high-quality purchased sauces (make sure the caramel sauce has butter or cream as an ingredient). I would also suggest the Crêpes Belle Helene, and the Chocolate-Cherry Pound Cake Bonne Femme.

If you could let the masses know anything about French cooking and cuisine, what would that be? 

That the joys of the French table are open to everyone, no matter where you live or what your means. The French prove again and again that you can live modestly, yet dine splendidly, night after night.