Q & A With Dorie Greenspan: Her New Book, the Pierre Hermé Fan Club + Why Baking Is More Fun Than Gerontology
Dorie Greenspan is one of those people who, in a perfect world, would live in the house next door. She would advise you about pie crust over coffee on the front porch. You would leave a plate of anonymous cookies on her front step, knowing how ridiculous it was to bake for the author of Baking: From My Home to Yours, but liking her too much not to want to share.
Alan Richardson Dorie Greenspan
The James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, food blogger -- of In the Kitchen and On the Road with Dorie -- extraordinaire, champion of macarons, and Friend of Pierre, took some time the other day to chat about her latest book, Around My French Table, due out in the fall, as well as a few other things. Turn the page for our interview, and check back tomorrow for Part 2, as well as Greenspan's recipe for La Palette's Strawberry Tart. A small suggestion: unless you have some on hand, go out and buy a quart of ripe Gaviotas or Albions or Chandlers now, because you're going to want to go straight into the kitchen once you read the recipe. Or at least that's the response some of us had.
Dorie Greenspan: It's a really exciting book for me because, like Baking From My Home to Yours, it's really a kitchen diary. In fact, I think of Around My French Table as a companion book to Baking, but in this book, the stories and recipes (more than 300 of them!) come from my life in France. And I love the food in it. It's got my takes on some classics, lots of the food I cook when I'm at home in Paris and so many easy and really unexpected recipes from my French friends, things like a delicious Basque tortilla with crushed potato chips standing in for the usual spuds, or a luscious chocolate mousse made in a flash from a back-of-the-wrapper recipe.
SI: So how many books is this? 9?
DG: Hard as it is for me to believe, Around My French Table is my tenth book.
SI: This is not, it seems, a baking book...
DG: No, it's not. While it's got about 60 terrific dessert recipes, AMFT is a cookbook-cookbook, meaning it's got nibbles and hor d'oeuvres, soups and starters, main courses and vegetables, too. In other words, it's got recipes for everything you want to eat before you get to the cookies and cakes and that wonderful chocolate mousse.
SI: How much time do you spend in France? And why France?
DG: I spend about 3 to 4 months a year in France, primarily in Paris, where we've got an apartment, but I spend it in little chunks of a couple of weeks at a time, which means I get to see the country in every season. (And yes, I know how lucky I am - I still pinch myself every time I land in Paris.) I'd love to have a long stretch of time to stay, but for now I've got a busy and happy life in the US - one that includes testing my French recipes with American ingredients - so I'm a bi-continental commuter.
As for 'Why France?' it was almost an imperative. My husband, Michael, and I went to France shortly after I finished college and the instant I set foot on the sidewalk in Paris, I felt sure it was were I was meant to be. I'd never had that feeling about a city before or since.
Oh, and there's the food ...
SI: One of the many things you've done in France is worked with Pierre Hermé. How'd you get involved with him?
DG: I met Pierre in Paris almost 20 years ago - neither one of us can remember just when it was - when he was the pastry chef at Fauchon and I was researching a story about chestnuts for The New York Times. I thought we'd have a quick chat (I'd set aside 15 minutes for the meeting, knowing he was busy), but instead we tasted pastries and talked for over 2 hours. We've been talking ever since.
SI: Some chefs have this kind of Jekyl/Hyde thing going on when they get near stoves. What's Hermé like in the pastry kitchen?