At some point in the wee hours of this morning, Paris time, views of this culinary blog soared past 100,000. That’s not huge by web standards. Last year I met a fellow at a cookbook conference who told me his videos on pastry making got 250,000 hits a day. But for me this is a milestone that deserves celebrating — and so I give you one of my favorite recipes, a fish dish that is supremely French, quick and easy to prepare, and certain to win applause when brought to the table. A perfect dish for an everyday French chef.
Saumon à l’oseille / Thick-cut salmon with sorrel sauce
A quick word about the recipe before turning to the blogging past and future of this site. If you can’t find sorrel, not to panic. Baby spinach leaves are a perfectly acceptable substitute — you will just need to add some lemon juice to the sauce to replace the tanginess of fresh sorrel. The salmon may be fresh (preferable) or frozen. The sauce is the crowning glory.
Now, getting back to the 100,000. First and foremost, I’d like to thank every reader of this site for your interest and support. When I started The Everyday French Chef a year and a half ago, it was more or less on a dare — from my then 12-year-old daughter. After a period of giving cooking lessons in my Paris kitchen, I wanted to publish a cookbook. I contacted a top cookbook agent, who told me that I would first need to have ‘tens or hundreds of thousands of followers.’ Tears ensued. This is where my daughter stepped in. ‘Mom, don’t cry,’ she said. ‘Just start a web site.’
I took her up on it, and it’s been an adventure. Plenty of things have gone wrong. Like the day last winter when a friend came over to shoot a video of me making mayonnaise and the sauce kept curdling. We couldn’t figure out why — until my hands started shaking so hard that I dropped the bottle of oil, which spilled all over the floor. Only then did we realized how cold it was in my kitchen. The only heat source was from the adjacent bathroom, and we’d closed the door to get the light right for the video! Well, mes amis, without warmth mayonnaise won’t ‘take’.
But what’s amazing is how many things have gone right. I’ve had visitors from the States get in touch via this site to attend cooking lessons — and made some fascinating acquaintances as a result. Lots of other bloggers have been in contact, usually to propose some sort of recipe sharing. Last fall I had the thrill of meeting — and cooking for! — Georges Blanc, one of the most famous of France’s three-star chefs. And, best of all, more and more people from across the globe are signing up to follow this site.
After 18 months of forgetting about the cookbook idea, I’ve now started thinking about it again. It wouldn’t be the all-encompassing Julia-Child-modernized type of book I originally envisaged. That’s what this site is for — the full range of French cooking — and I’m having so much fun with it I’m not about to stop. Instead I’m thinking about doing a smaller book with a theme, for example French veggies, French soups, French desserts. Or — or — or — maybe a book of seasonal menus with recipes attached. The menu section has proved to be one of the most popular on this site. If you haven’t yet been there, check it out. There are everyday and weekend menus for vegetarians and vegans as well as for omnivores like myself — and by the way I’ve just posted the latest menu update.
So here’s a request for input from you, my wonderful worldwide network of French cooking enthusiasts. What kind of book would you like to see? Or do you think the site stands alone and no cookbook is needed? It’s true that one can find recipes of any kind on the web. But personally I still enjoy browsing through books of recipes and taking them with me into the kitchen, learning the lore of another chef and being creative in new ways.
Mes chers amis, I will look forward to your suggestions. Tonight I will raise a glass to you all — and to the joys of French cuisine. Thank you! And happy cooking.