French cooking and living has a certain je ne sais quoi. However, true to form Rebekah Peppler has beautifully translated the country's often indescribable effortless sophistication into simple recipes with her new cookbook.
"À Table: Recipes for Cooking and Eating the French Way," is meant to be an inspirational "guide to cooking stylish, easy, fresh French food for a whole new generation of Francophiles."
The American food writer and stylist who rooted her life in Paris, shares her spin on 125 "new French" dishes with elevated yet simple recipes and techniques to recreate that coveted French charm.
"I’d been dedicated to the making of 'À Table' for years, and the book is very personal, which made finishing it in the middle of a pandemic especially hard, but I got it done with the help of an incredibly talented and supportive team," the author told "Good Morning Ameria."
Peppler was open on social media throughout the pandemic about her battle with COVID, shortly after she handed in her manuscript.
"Writing a book at any point in time, pandemic or not, has its challenges and rewards," she said. "[I] was extremely sick during the final edit, design, and photography process -- which any author will tell you is grueling."
With stunning food photos -- many taken at the so-called "golden hour" in Paris, just before sunrise and just after sunset, other photos in the book portray French life; from cobblestoned paths in Paris to picnics along the Canal Saint-Martin and Provençal produce markets.
"Although its production marks a difficult period in my own life and the lives of many others, the resulting book is full of beauty, joy and hope," she said. "And that makes the entire experience even more fulfilling now that it’s out in the world."
The cookbook features recipeis for all different courses including pre-dinner drinks and snacks; main dishes and sides; and sweet snacks and after-dinner drinks.
Check out three of Peppler's recipes below and .
Comté and Sesame Twists
"I was in a tiny butcher shop in Burgundy buying pork chops when I saw them: twisty, buttery, cheesy, crunchy prepackaged puff pastry sticks that gave me un coup de coeur. Literally translated to 'a hit or shock to the heart,' this phrase describes an instant, intense crush for something (the French often use the equally evocative term 'lightning strike,' un coup de foudre, meaning love at first sight). My crush came home with me right away, and I haven’t been able to find that particular brand since. So I wrote this recipe and wish you a lifetime of happiness with her."
Makes: 32 twists
14-ounce (400 g) package all-butter puff pastry
1 1/2 cups (120 g) grated Comté cheese
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 large egg, lightly beaten
fflaky sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Transfer the puff pastry to a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 20-by-10-inch rectangle (about 1/8-inch thick). Sprinkle the Comté and sesame seeds on one long half of the dough rectangle, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edges. Fold the other half over the cheese-and-sesame filling. Cut the dough crosswise into 32 strips (each about 2/3 by 5 inches).
Transfer the strips to the prepared baking sheets and working with one strip at a time, brush lightly with the beaten egg. Twist each strip and sprinkle with salt.
Bake until deeply golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Serve warm or transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely, about 15 minutes.
"This recipe is incredibly simple to make, but you do need to season the chicken the night before, so plan accordingly," Peppler wrote in the book.
4 pounds (1.8 kg) skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (6 to 8)
1 1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed, plus 2 garlic heads, unpeeled and halved crosswise
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 large leeks, tough outer layer and dark tops removed, halved, cleaned and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
5 to 6 cups (1.2 to 1.4 L) extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups (240 g) green olives, such as Picholine or Lucques
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl along with the lemon slices, garlic cloves, thyme and bay leaves and cover with a lid or an upside-down dinner plate. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Place the leeks and garlic head halves in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Add the chicken, lemon slices, and herbs. Pour in the oil (it should cover the chicken completely) and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bake for 2 hours, then add the olives to the pot and return to the oven for 15 minutes more.
Preheat the broiler. Set an ovenproof cooling rack on a baking sheet and use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken thighs to the rack. Broil until the chicken skin is crisp and browned, 5 to 8 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler.
Transfer the chicken thighs to a serving platter and use the slotted spoon to fish out the leeks, olives, garlic, and lemons and scatter them around the chicken. Serve warm.
French Shrimp Boil
"When I was younger, my mom had one of those little ceramic pots from Williams-Sonoma with “herbes de Provence” written in script. Ten-year-old me thought it was peak chic. While we rarely used the mix of thyme, basil, savory, fennel, and lavender flowers, saving it instead for “special” dishes that were few and far between, twenty years later the exact same pot remains in her spice cabinet, now refreshed with herbs brought back from Provence. I wish we had had this recipe then. A French-ified take on a low-country boil (or a New England clambake), a French shrimp boil is communal eating at its finest, best piled over newspaper, avec beaucoup d’amis and napkins on hand."
Serves: 6 to 8
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
2 pounds (910 g) small, red-skinned potatoes
8 baby artichokes, turned (see note)
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups (480 ml) dry white wine
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) head-on, tail-on jumbo shrimp or prawns
mayonnaise (see 2nd note), for serving
unsalted European butter, for serving
radishes, for serving
crusty bread, for serving
In a small dish, combine 1 tablespoon of herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of paprika, and the flaky salt. Set aside.
In a large pot, combine the potatoes, artichokes, garlic, vinegar, mustard, thyme, bay leaves, the remaining 2 teaspoons of the herbes de Provence, the fine sea salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon of black pepper, the remaining 1 teaspoon of paprika, and the cayenne. Add the wine and 6 cups (1.4 L) of water to the pot. Halve one of the lemons, squeeze the juice from both halves into the pot, and add the halves. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes and artichokes are fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the shrimp to the simmering water and cook until the shells are bright red and the meat is slightly opaque and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately strain the mixture through a colander; discard the lemon halves. Spread the shrimp, potatoes, and artichokes on platters or a newspaper-lined table. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges, prepared herbes de Provence -- salt mixture, mayonnaise, butter, radishes, and crusty bread.
Note: To turn artichokes, pull off the outer leaves; trim the end of the stems and 1 inch (2.5 cm) off the tops. Use a peeler to shave off the dark layer of the stem. Halve lengthwise; scoop out the choke; discard. Keep in lemon water until ready to use.
Note: To make homemade mayonnaise, in a medium bowl, whisk together 2 large egg yolks and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Whisking constantly, as slowly and gradually as possible -- literally drop by drop -- add some of the 1/2 cup (120 ml) of grapeseed oil until the mixture thickens. Continuing to whisk constantly, start to slowly pour in the remainder of the grapeseed oil and 1/4 cup (60 ml) of olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Just as slowly, whisk in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Recipes reprinted from "À Table" by Rebekah Peppler with permission by Chronicle Books, 2021.
Peppler previously published "Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way: A Recipe Book" in 2018, a James Beard Award finalist for best cookbook of the year.