Cooking, Field Notes

Summer Reading: French Cooking Edition

Take a page from the French and savor the summer with good books and good eats. We have collected a few of our favorite cookbooks that celebrate French cooking, eating, and reading. Bon appétit!

Simple French Food by Richard Olney
Originally published in 1974, Simple French Food has become a classic French cookbook. Richard Olney was an influential American food writer who brought the joys Provençal cooking to the American table. His promotion of local, seasonal ingredients influenced the food movement in California and inspired prominent chefs like Alice Waters, who keeps a copy of this book at Chez Panisse. Simple French Food is as much a work of literature as it as a cookbook. It deserves to become well-worn and cherished, in a kitchen cabinet or tucked away in the living room.

Simple French Food is a training manual for the dedicated home cook. Olney’s words flourish across the pages in deliberate and robust explanations. Appreciating his language is as important as the content of each dish. Within are recipes for braised fennel, squash gratin, crêpe batter, and marinated roast leg of lamb. Some recipes appear simpler than others, though they all maintain the integrity of the Provençal kitchen. An essential addition to any cookbook collection, this is a timeless classic of ingredient-driven cooking.

Tasting Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier
Tasting Paris is a snapshot of the contemporary Parisian foodscape. This modern cookbook offers 100 recipes to eat like a Parisian. Paris native Clotilde Dusoulier writes as if she is sharing a secret with the reader—each page offers advice for finding authenticity in a city notorious for tourist traps. Well-suited for the coffee table, this sizable book transports the reader to Paris through elegant photographs and stories. Tasting Paris is a gentle approach to French gastronomy that encourages you to cook like the locals do.

Dusoulier includes some classic French dishes such as brioche with café au lait for breakfast and duck magret for dinner. Less traditional (but no less delicious) is the potato chip and chive omelet, made famous by Michelin-starred chef Éric Frechon at the Saint-Lazare train station bistro. Even more impressive are the dishes from immigrant communities in the city. Among these are baghrir, Moroccan crumpets served with melted butter and honey, and Turkish lamb served over roasted eggplant and cheese sauce. Together, these recipes create a memorable and flavorful taste of Paris.

Le Picnic by Suzy Ashford
Le Picnic is a playful recipe book that elevates the average picnic to a sophisticated affair. It offers a spread of chic food for on-the-go excursions and afternoons in the sun. Suzy Ashford, an Australian writer and avid Francophile, brings whimsy to the packed lunch with impressive yet straightforward recipes. Le Picnic is both a practical guide for meal prepping and also an excuse to daydream of summer fun and frivolity.

Ashford categorizes her recipes into Le Snack, Food for Sharing, La Salade, Sweet Delights, and La Drink. Some standouts include baked savory figs with goat cheese and walnuts, comté and asparagus tart, salade Lyonnaise, and rosé granita. These recipes are perfect for summer entertaining, whether along the banks of the Seine, in your local park, or on your back patio. Crafting stylish picnic food is a delightful way to spend a summer day with friends.

Find these books and others in our French collection. Happy reading!

Field Notes, Modern Grange

Good Books

Feeding the mind with good books is nearly as important as feeding the body with good food. Both ensure that you will remain straight and tall in all the important ways.

We’re devoted to all kinds of books — particularly those about food and farming — and have an extensive personal cookbook library that we share with our customers several times a year.

We host readings and authors and are committed to continuing the local “Luminarias” series with the Healdsburg Literary Arts Guild.

But perhaps most personally pleasing is our monthly in-store book club.

Composed of staffers, SHED regulars, and that person who is just interested in the book being currently read, our book club allows for far-ranging conversation from a wide variety of view points. It’s also a lot of fun!

To start the New Year in the most thoughtful manner possible, we’ve arrayed all of our favorite new and not-so-new books for display in our Healdsburg store.

If you’re not able to stop by, don’t worry! Here are some of the books SHED friends and staff have recently enjoyed.

Here’s hoping that you do, too. Please feel free to add notice of your own favorite book in the comments section. We’d love to know!

Friend + Staff Picks

Imbibe by David Wondrich was one of my favorite books in culinary school, it is packed full of useful information for bartenders. —Riley Schmidt, SHED Cafe Manager

Simple French Cooking by Richard Olney was one of the first cookbooks that I purchased. That was over forty years ago.  The recipes are timeless classics. The techniques in the book are the basis of European cooking. —Franco Dunn, Chef

I love The Holistic Orchard. It’s the best book I know of for caring for fruit trees. Michael Phillips is an unassuming farmer and tree whisperer. His solutions, literal and figurative, work wonders. —Yael Bernier, Farmer

Mushrooms Demystified is my favorite mushroom hunting companion, because David Aurora takes the science of mushrooming and makes it hilarious.  —Chevon Holmes, SHED Retail Liaison

Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier is a concise well-written book on small scale farming. It’s my go-to guide when I am trying something new or am looking for answers. —Rebecca Bozzelli, Farmer

Joel Salatin’s “Fields of Farmers” takes a creative, enterprising look at a serious problem in our country: ever-aging farmers and the challenge of passing down agricultural legacies. —Evan Wiig, The Farmers Guild

Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate — Wendy Johnson is true local hero when it comes to farming for the Earth. Wendy was my first mentor in the farming world and I feel so blessed to have had her in my life. —Rebecca Bozzelli, Farmer

Heidi Swanson’s Near & Far is the perfect cookbook for anyone afflicted by wanderlust. All of her dishes are beautiful and healthy, and there are even recipes for travel snacks, in case you get the urge to buy a ticket and go somewhere.  —Stephanie Callimanis, SHED Grange Manager

I would [also] recommend Diane Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking. This is another book that I acquired many years ago.  I wore out my first copy and am on my second. Diane Kennedy is the doyen of Mexican cocina. This is a book that I have given as a gift many times. —Franco Dunn, Chef

The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower by Michael Phillips. Michael lives, eats, and breathes apple farming and uses a sustainable and biodiverse approach in doing so. —Rebecca Bozzelli, Farmer

Perfect for meditating on the New Year, Finding Yourself in the Kitchen by Dana Velden is an open invitation to eat and cook mindfully, rest and reflect deeply, and give and receive wholeheartedly. —Katherine Harris, SHED Executive Assistant

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart is one of my favorite cookbooks. Whether you are a beginner or a trained chef, this book is all you need to make great bread! —Ginny Gilcrease, SHED Office Manager


‘Saving the Season’

We often remark upon cookbooks that are as good to read as they are to cook from, but Kevin West’s 2013 text Saving the Season takes the art of the readable cookbook up a literary notch.


Artisan Producers, Chefs, Cooking, Modern Grange

Cooks with Books: Chef-Authors at SHED

Autumn is when the leaves certainly rustle in the book business! This year's crop of cookbooks by esteemed chefs may be the best harvest we've yet seen. We're fortunate to have a wonderful slate of new books by esteemed author-chefs filling our calendar for the coming months.

There are, of course, celebrity chefs. And then there are celebrity chefs — those whose renown has been earned at the stove, not on TV; whose cooking has actually changed American palates and habits; who have made a true and lasting impact on their communities.

So while the chefs we're looking forward to hosting this season may never have had to make a meal on a sound stage wearing a cojoined apron that helplessly ties them to another cook (as Top Chef memorably did to its contestants in 2010) or wrangle a Spam challenge (2013) — they have earned a celebrated spot in our food culture.

On Thursday, Oct. 16, join us for an aperitif and nibbles with Jean-Pierre and Denise Moullé, whose new title is French Roots: Two Cooks, Two Countries, and the Beautiful Food along the Way (Ten Speed Press; $35). Jean-Pierre cooked at Chez Panisse from 1975 until his retirement in 2012. Along the way, he and Denise — both French, they met on a Berkeley street corner and were soon married — divided their lives between Northern California (they still keep a house here in Healdsburg) and their native Bourdeaux. 

French Roots tells their story interwoven with recipes both simple and complex. Jean-Pierre can happily spend hours in the kitchen; Denise's style is more straightforward. Both rely on the simplicity of excellent ingredients.

They join us for a very traditional French moment, the aperitif, which Denise describes as that moment when we allow "the day to fall away" and prepare for the evening to come. We'll serve Sonoma Aperitif, locally made from area fruit, as well as traditional foods (gougeres, rilletes, salmon tartare, and more) made from the recipes collected in the French Roots cookbook, and raise a toast with Jean-Pierre's own Vin d'Orange Champagne. It promises to be a relaxed, sophisticated evening with plenty of good stories and fun!

Tickets are just $20 and will go fast. 5:30pm.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, we'll share news of what Petalumans have known about for years: Kathleen Weber's insanely delicious and thoroughly addictive breads and other baked goods. Her Della Fattoria bakery on the Boulevard simply boasts the best grilled cheese sandwich in the North Bay and her secrets are no longer closely kept. With her new title, Della Fattoria Bread: 63 Foolproof Recipes for Yeasted, Enriched & Naturally Leavened Breads (Artisan; $29.95), Kathleen takes bakers step-by-step from the most basic to more advanced breads, offering insight into her own experiences as well as hard-won advice gleaned from decades of coaxing yeast and flour and water to make miracles. Kathleen appears from Oct. 25 from 11:30am to 1:30pm to sign copies of her book and answer your questions. Free!

On Saturday, Nov. 1, we ramp it up considerably with an unusual night honoring James Beard Who's-Who inductee Charles Phan. His Slanted Door restuarant was also just awarded a James Beard Outstanding Restaurant laurel as well. This man is the real deal.

Charles travels north to SHED in support of his first cookbook, The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food (Ten Speed Press; $40) and comes to us for something of a gala night.

We begin outside with specialty cocktails and appetizers known to Slanted Door fans, move upstairs to the Grange for a communal meal with more Slanted Door food — this time paired with wines — and then return downstairs to the coffee bar for a dessert buffet, after-dinner drinks, and hot beverages for those who'd like them. While we dine, Charles will be in conversation with our own Lora Zarubin about his career and cooking. This promises to be an intimate, fun, delicious evening with one of the country's most talented chefs. We're pretty wowed about it ourselves!

Tickets are $175, all-inclusive. We know it's pricey; we know it's worth it. We hope you'll join us. 6pm.

On Monday, Nov. 10, help us to welcome Gabrielle Hamilton, owner of New York City's acclaimed Prune restaurant and author of its new eponymous cookbook, for a sit-down luncheon and far-ranging conversation. 

One of only two chefs to have won James Beard Awards for both cooking and writing, Gabrielle's previous book was the much beloved Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. The recipient of an MFA in creative writing from University of Michigan, Gabrielle is a home cook turned profession whose newest cookbook, Prune (Random House; $45) is a clever take on the back-of-the-house binders actually used in restaurant kitchens. 

As she does for her own chefs, Gabrielle lays out exact specifications for the dishes in Prune, including notice of when you've taken a prep too far, things to watch for, and other homilies that help to make the food you like in restaurants a reality at home.

We're hosting Gabrielle to a luncheon featuring her recipes and including a wine pairing. Ticket-holders also get a copy of the book for with admission. $95 per person; $145 for a couple, all-inclusive. Join us on Nov. 10 at 12:30pm!