Sunday, 3 April 2011

Oh la la! I couldn’t possibly…. OK, maybe just one….

The Skinny French Kitchen By Harry Eastwood. 

I’m not one for low calorie cooking, and, if we’re being honest, I only bought this book for one reason: the author was in Selfridges signing when I popped in for a couple of bits, and I love a signed book. Eastwoods first book was a triumph, but a book on being skinny? Where’s the joy in that?

But joy there was.

Be taken, firstly, with the stunning, elegant cover that suggests anything but ‘Low-fat’ - you shouldn't judge a book by it’s cover, but a quick scan of the pages shows you that, in this case, you can. The recipes looked and sounded like a butter covered dream; even if the book fails in low-fat, it would succeed in stunning photography of delightful recipes to make you drool. 

The Skinny French Kitchen is more like a food memoir of a girl who, through her own 
admission, tends to pile on the pounds, but loves French food. Leaving England, she moved back to Paris, having grown up there, in a 7th floor flat (with no lift!). The aim was to create recipes traditionally French in taste and nature, but without the traditional fat content. And Mon deur, has she done it!

And how has she done it? By bringing French recipes into the 21st Century. By keeping true to the recipes but not going overboard – by not using 2 tablespoons of cream when a teaspoon will do, by using 50g of strong cheese instead of 200g of mild. By not trying to change something that can not, should not, be changed (Eastwood refuses to include a proper tart tatin – it should be rich, sticky with sugar and slick with butter; it would be sacrilege to change it and to her credit, she doesn’t try). Clever tricks that, when it all adds up, makes slimmer food without compromising on taste. In short, she has made traditional French food modern and light (and, if we can take her word, has converted the French too as only recipes approved of by her butcher/grocer/concierge made the cut!) 

Secondly, the warm, friendly nature of an author who loves food comes across in this book, aided by the wonderful photography throughout; however, as lovely as the photos of Paris and Eastwood are, they out-number the photographs of the food itself, particularly the savouries. A real shame, particularly given how lovely the photographer has made these delightful recipes look – like you could just eat them from the page.

Even if you are not dieting, invest in this book. It will give you the ability to create menus that read like they’re heavy and coronary inducing, but in fact will allow you to eat your meal and continue to polish off that (case of) Burgundy without having to go off for a nap.  And I'll be testing this theory out over the next couple of weeks when I cook the quintessentially French Boeuf Bourguignon followed by Crème Caramel.

This isn’t a diet book; this is delightful, elegant, modern book on French food.


  1. I've been intending to pick a copy of this when I see one - I have her last book Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache and I really liked that. Big fan of French food so hopefully I'd like this.

  2. Hi Sarah, I'm sure you'll like it, I'm yet to try any recipes but the book itself is such a pleasure to read. I'll post once I've tried some, hopefully this weekend. B x