French native Beatrice Peltre's debut cookbook La Tartine Gourmand is subtitled, "Recipes for an Inspired Life." The photos, recipes and stories border on precious, but are charming and inspiring nonetheless. Peltre's stories and inspiration come from Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and her current home in Boston, but it's her childhood in France and travels around that country that can really be seen behind most recipes.
In part one of the cookbook, Peltre introduces you to "My Kitchen," and the pantry staples, basic techniques and kitchen equipment she relies on. While this isn't a gluten-free cookbook per se, she does not eat gluten. There is information on various gluten-free flours such as rice, buckwheat, amaranth, and millet, and how to work with them. And there are recipes for basic tart and pie crusts using various combinations of flours. There isn't a recipe for gluten-free bread however, which is a shame since there are many recipes for tartines--or open-face sandwiches--in the book. Heck, "tartine" is even in the title.
Chapters are divided into breakfast and brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Familiar French dishes such as shredded carrot salad, oeufs en cocotte, fingerling potato salad, and buckwheat blinis are represented. There are also unique twists on the classics like cumin and parsley-flavored cheese gougeres, chocolate crepes and lavender île flotantes. But Peltre's well-traveled life has influenced her cooking and recipes. There's a Spanish style tortilla de patatas with Jerusalem artichokes, spinach, asparagus and potatoes in the frittata like dish, a fennel and green pea soup spiced with Sichuan peppers and topped with wasabi-flavored whipped cream, a Gorgonzola and pear risotto, and beet and quinoa tabouli.
The recipes are written with both metric and imperial measurements, as well as volume and weight options. While some dishes sound simple, the ingredient lists get quite lengthy on most. A simple sounding carrot and red lentil soup also requires coconut milk, red onion, leek, tomato, tomato paste and cilantro. Not items in everyone's pantry, but at least they're readily available at the supermarket. And while various flours are required in a handful of recipes, many recipes don't require much flour, if any at all. Desserts include panna cotta, baked apples, clafoutis, and chocolate crème caramel. There are tomatoes stuffed with pork, potatoes, olive, and sage, a summer vegetable tian, omelet wraps and fish baked in parchment. With delicious sounding dishes like these, who needs flour?