Dinner In French – A Book Review


Dinner in French


From my perspective, the fact that more of us are cooking at home is one positive that’s come from this rather nasty situation.

All around the world, the Covid -19 crisis is changing the way we live our lives.

But cooking at home always requires some level of inspiration. And often that inspiration is difficult to find. So when the publisher’s of Melissa Clark’s new cookbook Dinner in French chose to send me a copy, I was keen to get myself into the kitchen.

And, as I suggested in my last post, cooking up a French meal is an ideal way to bring a touch of France into ‘lockdown life’.

I’ve been enjoying cooking from this book for about five weeks now. Which also means I feel like I’ve done enough testing to write up a review.
Now, I have to share that I couldn’t always get every ingredient Melissa Clark named in her recipes. This was due to some of the shortages we’ve been seeing on Australian shelves. From that viewpoint, it may not have been the best time to road test a cookbook. But happily, I was able to improvise where required.

Title: ’Dinner in FrenchMy Recipes By Way Of France’
Author: Melissa Clark
Published: 2020 by Clarkson Potter, Hardcover, 338 pages.

What I Liked:

  • The number of recipes that I want to cook from Dinner in French. Although Melissa Clark is a famous cookbook author, I wouldn’t categorise her as a ‘celebrity chef’. And from my perspective, that can only be a good thing. I’ve been gifted many cookbooks released by ‘celebrity chefs’ over the years. While I often find them pretty to look at, I find that I rarely cook more than a recipe or two from them. Not so with this book. Already I’ve cooked numerous meals, including Seared Duck Breasts with Figs, Rosemary and Lemon. And I am looking forward to playing with many more.
  • The number of practical vegetable recipes. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more veggies into our diets. But, let’s be honest. Vegetables rarely feature in French cookbooks. So I was pleasantly surprised to find an abundance of French inspired vegetable recipes within Dinner in French. So far our favourites include Roasted Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Raisins and Capers and Roasted Carrots and Fennel with Pomegranate Vinaigrette.
  • The writing style. Every recipe comes with a little background note. These snippets are both informative and entertaining. As a New York Times Food columnist since 2007, Melissa Clark has clearly had the opportunity to perfect her writing style. I also enjoyed the premise behind the title. Melissa suggests that she can’t speak French, but that she can cook in French. Which is a concept that really resonates with me.
  • The gorgeous photography. With a mix of pictures depicting delicious looking dishes and snippets of the French lifestyle, this book is simply beautiful. If it wasn’t actually a really good cookbook, Dinner in French would make a very nice coffee table book.

What I Wasn’t So Sure About:

  • It’s not often that I review a book that I love everything about. And when I do, it’s a true joy. Particularly as – up until now – I’ve generally shelled out my hard earned dollars to purchase it. As I was gifted this book by the publishers, I really wanted to find something I wasn’t sure about so that readers would know that this review is as balanced as any other. But I have to tell you, this book is so good. It was tough going to find something (which probably explains why Dinner in French made the New York Times best sellers list). The only thing I could come up with is the fact that the Lentil Stew with Garlic Sausage and Goat Cheese is kind of unattractive to look at. Delicious, but certainly not pretty. Which possibly explains why there was no picture of the finished dish to accompany the recipe.

Have you picked up a copy of Dinner in French? Do you have a favourite French cookbook? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

While all opinions are my own, I’d like to thank the team at Clarkson Potter for sending me a copy of Dinner in French.


About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.


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One thought on “Dinner In French – A Book Review

  • kairosia

    I hadn’t noticed this book among the NYT bestsellers, and I’m grateful for the recommendation. I appreciate, too, that you tap into some features that I find de rigeur in cookbooks: practicality, visual appeal, and strong on veggies. I do wonder, though, why this clever writer failed to spruce up the unattractive lentil stew. A sprinkling of parsley and a few gratings of lemon zest? Sliced cherry tomatoes and chèvre crumbles? Call me mystified.