Tapenade

tapenade2The very thought of this flavor-packed spread evokes gnarled olive groves and thyme growing wild by the side of the road in southern France, where tapenade originated. Ubiquitous in Provence, it is usually made with black olives, but green olives are sometimes used. It may be made with garlic or without, with a dash of cognac or none. You can serve it on toast or as a dip at cocktail hour, and it also works well as a sauce for fish.

Tapenade / Black olive spread from Provence

Now some news. I was approached this week by an American book publisher about possibly doing a cookbook for their series. The up-side was that I would finally have accomplished my dream of publishing a recipe book. One down-side was that it would not be The Everyday French Chef Cookbook, but would bear a different title with little reference made to this site. The other down-side was that they needed the material by mid-July — 300 recipes and 150 sidebars! And photos too. That appeared to me to be a superhuman task, and in the end we decided we were not a perfect fit.

Nonetheless, this experience fired me up again for the idea of doing a cookbook. Certainly not by mid-July, but maybe in the year ahead. And once again, I’d like to ask for your feedback. Would you prefer an all-encompassing book on French cuisine à la Julia Child, but modernized and simplified? Or would you rather see a series of smaller books on specific categories of food — soups, vegetables, desserts, etc. — or perhaps four volumes on seasonal cooking? I can’t really pay you for this, but I’d like to offer a free cooking lesson to anyone who replies — next time you come to Paris. In the meantime, happy cooking!


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14 Responses to Tapenade

  1. Nan says:

    I would love to see modernized classics (seasonal if you will) both the standard recipe treatment and then the way the French really cook – with shortcuts, a little of this from Picard and that from the cupboard. I always end up finding my own shortcuts and it would be a great help to be pointed in the right direction for the days when time is finite.

  2. Brad Oates says:

    Our daughter shared your website with us and now I make it a once a week “must read”. I like the idea of a series of books that focus on specific categories of food such as soups or desserts. I often have trouble coming up with a side or soup to have with a main course and would appreciate a book dedicated to a specific category. My wife and I will be in France with a group of friends in mid June and I am very excited to visit the markets and specialty shops. Good luck with the book and keep up the great work on the blog.

  3. Mary says:

    I thoroughly enjoy the authenticity of your recipes and that they are easy and straight forward to follow. I think people are becoming more and more aware of cooking seasonally, although it tends to come naturally here in France as we follow what’s featured at the markets. I look forward to seeing your final cookbook! Best wishes and thank you for the opportunity to provide input. Interesting to read everyone’s comments.

  4. Lenita Firth says:

    I like the idea of a cookbook that is an updated version of French cuisine; however, you could actually combine your two ideas: modern French cuisine that is put in the book in a seasonal way. I would suggest doing one cookbook.

  5. Linda Colvin says:

    Meg – Since you asked, I have a cookbook created back in the 70s by a writer for a Seattle local paper from her columns which she organized by month with a menu/listing of the various pieces that could go together based on seasonal availability. I have always loved it, used it copiously, and appreciate that level of organization. For me, that approach would work well with your writings. I would concur with some of your readers – one volume might be easier to keep track of.

    In the meantime, I have followed you since you gave me the heads-up at our reunion that you would be creating this, and have used and created meals around your recipes for the benefit of friends, and have not yet taken the opportunity to actually thank you for the inspirations. We are now at the level of food happening at the winery and I refer others to your ideas as well! Thanks so much for sharing your talents!

    • Meg says:

      Hi Linda and many thanks for your suggestion. A lot of respondents seem to think an overall cookbook organized seasonally might be the way to go. Meantime, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site! As a winemaker, maybe you could add some ideas for wines to accompany the recipes from time to time. Just a thought…

  6. Thank you for the opportunity to give feed back. I love your recipes and look forward to receiving the recipes and notes. I live in Paris though am American. When I prepare and serve your recipes to French friends they are always very complimentary and also surprised that I can cook “French” food! I prefer a cook book that is all encompassing just because I don’t like to keep track of smaller books and try to remember what is in each of them. Perhaps a larger book divided seasonally? Cheers, Brenda

  7. Meg says:

    Many thanks for all these comments! I will combine all the ingredients you’ve suggested and try to cook up something fabulous…

  8. Andrea says:

    I like the idea of an all encompassing French cookbook with the explanation that it is EVERYDAY FRENCH cooking. I think it would attract many people who think French cooking is too difficult and time consuming for them. I think once you publish one such cookbook you could publish a whole series – even sold in advance (after people see the first one) – with specific categories and perhaps others with seasonal cooking.

    I LOVE your recipes since I like recipes that have few ingredients and even fewer directions.

  9. Gisele Bourque says:

    In keeping with the spirit of your site and how you introduce your readers “seasonally” to traditional/classic dishes (often times with a updated twist), I recommend the seasonal approach. Whether that is produced as 1 book, divided by season, or 4 volumes, I’m not sure. perhaps as a first venture into publishing, 1 single book, with contents presented seasonally could sell better.

  10. Donna Coffey says:

    I would prefer a modern, updated all encompassing book rather than a set of specific volumes. It is easier to find the recipes you want in on index rather than searching through several. However, I like the idea of a seasonal approach, at least I. A cross reference index. One request I would have was that the cookbook have ready US substitutions for specific French ingredients , for example levure chimique. I hope you have great success!

  11. Laura says:

    I started out thinking I’d like all recipes in one book, but then thought about it a little more and really like the idea of seasonal recipe books. It is a unique way to market a cookbook, showcasing recipes using foods that we like to eat at different times of the year, and using food available seasonally.
    Good luck, Meg.

  12. Wanda Porter says:

    I love your website and look forward to it each week. I vote for the all-encompassing book on French cuisine, but modernized and simplified. I think it would be very well received! I live in Hawaii, so some ingredients used in French cooking are not always available, but we come to France each year and I take advantage of the open markets – we’ve been in Vaison-la-Romaine, Sarlat, now in the Loire. Paris next week for two weeks -can’t wait!

    • Meg says:

      Thank you, Wanda, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch when in Paris to sign up for your free cooking lesson!

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