‘My French Family Table: Recipes for a Life Filled with Food, Love & Joie de Vivre.’ By Beatrice Peltre – Roost Books, $35

I was just starting to get into the rhythm of autumn when I picked up the stunning cookbook “My French Family Table: Recipes for a Life Filled with Food, Love & Joie de Vivre,” by Beatrice Peltre. I almost wish I hadn’t.

The photos – excuse me for gushing – are among the most gorgeous I’ve seen in a cookbook, and writer Beatrice Peltre takes you on an easy, comforting trip to her family table, covered with brightly colored vegetables, fresh fish and decadent desserts.

But this is the perfect book for an entirely different season.

As I perused the recipes, I longed for a summer walk through the farmers market, where the tables are lined with the radishes, peas and greens Peltre features heavily on her table. I wanted to swap the root vegetables and squash of winter that I am buying now for juicy tomatoes and herbs fresh from the garden.

Raised in France and now living in Boston, Peltre writes the award-winning La Tartine Gourmande blog. The book, like her blog, is filled with photos and stories of her family life. Peltre is also a food stylist, which should come as no surprise to anyone who flips through this book.


Peltre subtitles her book, “Recipes for a Life Filled with Food, Love & Joie de Vivre.” In her introduction and sprinkled throughout, she tells of her family’s love for food and the new chapter opened to her with the birth of her daughter, Lulu, six years ago. From her daughter’s earliest days, Peltre knew food would be “an essential part of her education.”

Peltre says she approached “My French Family Table” wanting to compile nutritious dishes inspired by French cooking that both adults and children would enjoy. The recipes focus on simple, quality ingredients. She organizes the book around the rhythm of her family meals: from breakfast to light dishes to children’s snacks she cooks with Lulu.

The book includes a healthy dose of tempting desserts, including French macarons and mini clafoutis with peaches and lemon balm. More than 120 of the recipes are gluten free, which Peltre briefly mentions in the introduction while talking about her own dietary preferences, but doesn’t otherwise dwell on.

I was tempted by a tomato tart with mustard and honey, but decided to save that to try when I can get tomatoes from my local farm stand, not the grocery store.

I knew I had a winning recipe when I flipped to the one for chicken stuffed with herbs, walnuts and grainy mustard, although I am still wondering why the title says “walnuts” when the recipe itself calls for hazelnuts and pecans. Peltre suggests serving the chicken with mashed celeriac and potato, but I opted this time for traditional mashed potatoes.

The mascarpone mix had a strong, bright flavor that complemented the chicken well. I was pleased that the skin was crispy and meat perfectly moist. This roast chicken is easy to make, but feels special enough for a dinner party or holiday meal.


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A puzzling title, since the recipe calls for hazelnuts and pecans. No matter, it still tastes delicious. You will need a pastry bag, cooking twine and a kitchen thermometer to make this recipe. In the recipe’s first line, Peltre suggests you “Rinse the chicken and pat dry.” In fact, the USDA suggests you avoid that practice: “Washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, or veal before cooking is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.”

Serves 4 (use larger chicken if you want leftovers)

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 large shallot, peeled


2 tablespoons hazelnuts

2 tablespoons pecans

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

1 tablespoon grainy mustard


1/4 cup olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

1 (41/2-pound) organic chicken

2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 garlic cloves, the shallot, hazelnuts, pecans, parsley and cilantro. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl and stir in the mascarpone, mustard and 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag without a tip; set aside.

Carefully stretch out the chicken skin on top and, using the pastry bag, pipe the stuffing uniformly under the skin, being careful not to tear the skin. Massage the chicken with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Place the remaining 2 garlic cloves and the bay leaves inside the chicken. Tie the legs of the chicken close to the body with cooking string.

Place the chicken in a large oven dish and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue to roast for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, checked by inserting a meat thermometer in a few places.

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