In his warm and (utterly) wonderful first book, Daniel Galmiche says he apparently stood in the middle of the kitchen (aged 5) and announced, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a chef!”  (Make that a Michelin one).  And at the end of his personal intro he adds, “…if you use this cookbook on a regular basis, it will make me very happy.”

Well “oui” will definitely be using this book (again and again).  I spent a whole Sunday evening (pre-Downton Abbey) drooling over the photos in the French Brasserie Cookbook, preparing some of the recipes in my head before testing a few favourites. It’s an easy, inviting read and the recipes are very accessible – there isn’t so much as a hint of Michelin attitude on any of the 200 pages.

You’ll find “Les Plats Vegetariens” (Tomato Tart with Goat’s Cheese, Provencal Vegetable Gratin and Crepes with Mushrooms & Tarragon)… there’s Fish & Shellfish (Pan-Roasted Salmon Steaks with Lime & Coriander Mayonnaise, Dover Sole with Lemon & Parsley Butter and Cod, Coriander, Tomato & Garlic Parcels – mmm!)…then on to French brasserie classics like Roast Leg of Lamb with Garlic & Lavender and a Pork Belly Confit with Apples.  (Not finished yet!)  Past the Cheese section where Daniel whisks you on a French Cheese Tour across France’s green, creamy pastures…then just as you don’t want the book to end it ends with on the sweetest notes with.. “Les Desserts”!

Ready? Get your pudding plate out for a helping of Raspberry Clafoutis (or as Daniel would say, the much more gorgeous-sounding “Clafoutis a la Framboise”) – you can also make delicious little mini-ones in ramekins.  Daniel whips up almost angelic looking, light-as-air and perfectly crisply-edged Orange Souffle Pancakes which ooze with a floaty Vanilla Custard-based Orange Souffle Mix.  My favourites are the trio of rustic-chic Coffee Creme Caramels, two beautiful Creme Brulees with Raspberry Puree – a rather romantic looking pair of mini-puddings,all golden, bubbly, bruleed and creamy looking, with a fuschia shock of raspberry puree (surprise!) at the bottom.  And “Chocolat” fans will be pleased to know it makes an appearance in some decadently elegant Bitter Chocolate Mousses with Orange Zest which I could eat every night for a month (or 12).

Cookbooks come and go as do the seasons, but the real test is – is it a keeper?  You fall in love with the food, wear down the pages and keep returning to the recipes which feel like familiar friends. This book oozes warmth and is a joy to read, no doubt because it’s written from the heart.  The French Brasserie Cookbook will remind you that French brasserie cooking doesn’t just feel “very right, right now”, but rather, this way of cooking is as connected to nature and timeless as food itself.

FRENCH BRASSERIE COOKBOOK by Daniel Galmiche – “Classic French Cooking with a Modern Twist”

£20 from Amazon and other booksellers. One for the Christmas list.

Daniel Galmiche’s website:

Published by Duncan Baird