Everyday Eggplant & “In a French Kitchen” Review

Everyday Eggplant & "In A French Kitchen" Review | She Paused 4 Thought

I have always dreamed of taking a cooking class in France. So when a milestone birthday came along, my husband took me to Paris. That was when I first met Susan Herrmann Loomis.

I enrolled in her Market Cooking Class. We began the class by learning to shop at the local farmer’s market for the best produce of the season. Once in the kitchen, we got our “hands in the dough” transforming all the goodies into a fabulous, fresh, French meal.

susan loomis cooking class Paris | She Paused 4 ThoughtShopping at Marché Raspail & plating Duck Breast a l’Orange with Braised Asparagus.

I was in heaven. You can read about my adventure here. When Susan mentioned she was teaching French cooking classes in the Black Hills of South Dakota in a few months, I jumped at the opportunity. It was fabulous as we learned and lived food for four days.

A few months later I found myself at Susan’s 12th-century renovated convent in Louviers, France. The building is directly across the street from the flamboyant French gothic church of Notre Dame. The town is charming, beyond expectation and imagination.

Louviers France | She Paused 4 Thought

While in Louviers we chatted with farmers at local markets and learned what defines good produce. Susan and I laughed, talked, cooked, and cooked some more. She taught me so much about the French way of life in and out of the kitchen.

Louviers-France | She Paused 4 Thought

She confirmed everything I wanted French cooking to be.
Fresh. Fabulous. Fuss-free. (with good looking farmers being a bonus)

When I purchased Susan Herrmann Loomis’ latest book In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France I devoured it like it was a finely prepared meal, savoring each chapter. It reads like an endearing memoir, yet contains 85 recipes with plenty of unique French techniques.

I was amused and fascinated by her culinary commrads, making me feel as if I would be among friends in their kitchens. Below are a few of Susan’s featured friends.

Susan-Loomis-friends | She Paused 4 ThoughtFrom left: Nadine, Betty, Louis, Edith, Susan, Nathalie, Lena.

I was suprised by how different each home chef approached his/her work in the kitchen. All emphasized simple, seasonal and, no matter how busy the cook or the eater, pleasurably relaxed. So wonderfully French!

One of my favorite stories from Susan’s book is about what she did with 60+ pounds of beef cheeks, which you learn about in Chapter 4. I just happened to be one of the lucky recipients of that escapade when I was in Louviers.

Beef Cheeks from - In A French Kitchen

Susan taught me how to make beef cheeks with with braised carrots and a squash puree. Pure bliss. Recipe on pg. 77.

Susan describes food and France in way that makes you starved for more…

“After a French breakfast, once everyone has gone on their way, the lingering peace remains. I love walking into a French home at that moment. There is the scent of tasted bread, the underlying aroma of butter and the tempting perfume of coffee. Bowls–which are, somehow, always pretty, rarely color coordinated, filled with personality as each belongs solely to its owner–are right where they were left, there is that messy scatter of crumbs on the table. The tableau speaks of warmth, comfort and togetherness.”

Excerpt from In a French Kitchen pg. 148 – Painting below is my interpretation inspired by Susan’s kitchen.

kitchen painting by Cathy Arkle

In a French Kitchen Book Event

Susan was recently in Los Angeles on a book tour and stopped by Melissa’s Produce to talk to a packed house of media, food bloggers, old friends and plenty of new ones.

Susan Loomis at Melissas Produce | She Paused 4 Thought

Susan, seen here demonstrating the art of eating the French Breakfast Radish with leaves in tack, on top of a slice of baguette slathered in butter, topped with Fleur de Sel — so simple and yet extraordinary.
Tip: Don’t throw away radish greens, add them to your salad.

Susan Loomis French Breakfast Radish

We also had a delightful array of dishes from In A French Kitchen.

In a French Kitchen recipes | She Paused 4 ThoughtMelon Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette Pg. 93, Garden Salad with Classic Vinaigrette pg. 96, Braised Broccoli pg. 76 & Sweet Pie Pastry with Berries and Creme pg.208

Susan Loomis at Melissas Produce 2015Susan talking about Mushrooms with Chorizo – recipe pg. 290

Another favorite recipe from Susan’s book is an untraditional version of Matafan, with baking it instead of frying. This results in a light and savory bread/cake, which is perfect for supper.

matafanHunger Beater (Matafan) Recipe on pg. 17

Today’s Recipe:

Everyday Eggplant (Aubergine Pour Tous Les Jours) is a perfect example of simplified French cooking. This recipe is an easier and lighter version of Eggplant Parmesan.

In A French Kitchen-Eggplant recipe | She Paused 4 Thought

Baptiste Bourdon, one of Susan’s favorite market gardeners, whose produce always makes every dish shine, inspired this recipe.

Baptiste-Bourdon | She Paused 4 Thought

Everyday Eggplant
Author: 
Recipe type: Meatless Main
Cuisine: French
 
This is a simple, quick, fresh, and light version of a dish Eggplant Parmigiana. Perfect for a meatless main.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup (6oml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ pounds (750g) eggplant, rinsed, stem end removed
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium (5-ounce; 150g) onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, green germ removed, minced
  • 2 pounds (1kg) very ripe tomatoes, preferably an heirloom variety like coeur de boeuf, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf (from the Laurus nobilis) or dried imported bay leaf
  • ½ cup (5g) fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup (5g) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 ounce (3og) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated (scant ½ cup)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and position a rack in the center. Brush a heavy baking sheet with about 2 teaspoons of the oil.
  2. Cut the eggplant into ½-inch (1.4cm) rounds and set them on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the rounds with more oil and season them with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is softened and golden on the side touching the pan, 12 to 15 minutes. Flip the slices, brush them lightly with oil, season with salt and pepper, and continue baking until they are tender all the way through, 5 to 8 minutes more. Remove from the oven.
  3. While the eggplant is baking, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions and when they start sizzling, reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are nearly translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until it starts to turn translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaf, stir, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring regularly so the tomatoes don't stick, until the tomatoes are softened and beginning to form a sauce, about 20 minutes.
  4. Coarsely chop the herbs.
  5. Place the remaining oil in a heavy, 1½-quart (1.5L) baking dish. Place one layer of eggplant on the bottom. Sprinkle with one-third of the chopped herbs, and pour over one-third of the tomato sauce. Repeat, and then sprinkle half the cheese on the tomato sauce. Top with the remaining slices of eggplant, basil, and tomato sauce, and the remaining cheese. Cover and bake until the dish is hot throughout and the eggplant and tomato sauce have married, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
Serves 3-4

Quote of the Day:

“Cooking like the French, in a French kitchen, is the shortest route to happiness, warmth, pleasure and delicious times.” –Susan Herrmann Loomis

I think cooking like the French in any kitchen gives that! Bon Appétit.
…and then, she paused for thought.

About Cathy Arkle

Cathy Arkle is a food blogger, culinary explorer, graphic artist, and cooking class junkie. Her inspirations come from her travels across the globe (50 countries) in the last 20+ years partaking in various ethnic cuisines while working as a graphic artist for major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX & ESPN). She has collected a few Emmys in the field of graphic design for sports & entertainment. Cathy is also a graduate of the Pro Chef courses at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA

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21 Responses to Everyday Eggplant & “In a French Kitchen” Review

  1. Kelly Page (@TastingPage) August 25, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    Thanks for the wonderful French food trip. I’m now missing France a lot and the food even more! I’m going to have to check out her book. It sounds perfect, and man, I remember those radishes everywhere. It took me a while to get used to eating radishes that way and now I love it!

    • Cathy Arkle August 25, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

      I have always loved radishes and was so excited to learn how to eat them with butter and salt. You would really enjoy Susan’s book.

  2. Teri Ciani August 25, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

    Lovely, thank you.

    • Cathy Arkle August 25, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

      Thanks Teri! I have such wonderful memories of Susan’s class at your beautiful home. Miss you.

  3. Natalie August 25, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

    Oh, I just love this! Thank you for sharing your adventures!

    • Cathy Arkle August 25, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

      Thanks Natalie! The adventure continues! 🙂

  4. Sue @ It's Okay to Eat the Cupcake August 25, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    This makes me want to hop on the first plane to Paris! Beautiful photos and even more beautifully written…thank you for sharing your adventures with us!

    • Cathy Arkle August 25, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

      Thanks Sue. I really hope you can get to Paris and take one of Susan’s classes. They are fabulous.

  5. SUSAN HERRMANN LOOMIS August 26, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    Cathy, THANK YOU SO MUCH. What a beautiful post, your photos and images are so vivid, and that painting. How on earth do you do so much???? Come back to Louviers soon!

    • Cathy Arkle August 28, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

      Thanks Susan! You always inspire me!

  6. sippitysup August 26, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    I am going to add this book to my Amazon list. It’s exactly what I love about cooking. Thanks for the intro. GREG

    • Cathy Arkle August 28, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

      Greg, it is a wonderful read. You will get lost in it.

  7. myimpkitchen August 29, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    Lovely day! Lovely recipe! Wonderful review about this fabulous lady! Thanks Cathy!

    • Cathy Arkle August 29, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

      Thank you, it was a wonderful event & book.

  8. Julie Grose August 30, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    Love eggplant — thank you for sharing a wonderful new way to prepare it — can’t wait to try making this dish soon. You never fail to inspire….. Thank you so much Cathy! xo cousin julie

    • Cathy Arkle August 30, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

      Thank Julie. I suggest doubling the recipe. I almost ate the whole pan myself in one setting. 🙂

  9. Susie August 31, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    just read this post….how fun. And your blog site is beautiful. I am looking at blogs through fresh eyes as I have just started one myself, for a six- week trip to France. In October, I’ll be at one of the Blvd. Raspail lunch classes with Susan. Your description makes it sound like a very special treat.

    • Cathy Arkle September 1, 2015 at 8:57 am #

      Susie, you are going to have the time of your life in France. You will love Susan’s classes. I look forward to reading about it in your new blog! If you have any questions or need help with your blog give me a shout, I will try to help you in any way I can.

  10. Lisa @ Whisk & Cleaver September 23, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    What a wonderful travel adventure! I’m jealous 🙂 I love France, Paris especially, and it’s fun to see your trip through the village. I’m going to check out her book. And your painting is gorgeous!

    • Cathy Arkle September 23, 2015 at 11:13 am #

      Thanks Lisa. Everything about France, Susan & her book is inspiring to me. Glad you stopped by!

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