Book Club Tuesday: Maman – The Cookbook

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetWhat I’ve come to realize about myself since the pandemic with its myriad lockdowns — I truly am an introvert. While I love the idea of being out with my friends and family for beautiful, leisurely weekend brunches, in the back of my mind that little voice quickly reminds me: “Uh oh! People!” Which is why I love cookbooks from bakeries, cafes, and restaurants that allow you to recreate the dining out experience in the comforts of your own home.

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Sweet Corn Soup, p. 134

One weekly ritual my family looks forward to is Saturday morning breakfast because I often cook special recipes while listening to the radio. We sit together to enjoy good food (eaten off our “weekend plates”) and great conversation. So, when I received a copy of Maman: The Cookbook by Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte with Lauren Salkeld, I looked forward to the prospect of introducing some new brunch-y recipes into our breakfast rotation. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Maman in NYC (or either of the Canadian locations in Montreal or Toronto), I think the recipes, photography, and design of the book give a good idea of what the real-life experience would be like: relaxed. The flat lay photos of rustic wooden farmhouse tables full of delicious-looking food on blue patterned transferware plates surrounded by vintage silverware and cups of coffee are warm and inviting.

So much so that when I got to cooking and baking from Maman, I couldn’t stop. With one delicious recipe, after another, I kept on cooking. We’ve enjoyed almost a dozen recipes from the book, and I’ve bookmarked many more to try. The recipes are organized into 3 main parts: Sunrise, All-Day Café, and Sweets and Sips. I think the authors have done an excellent job tailoring restaurant recipes for the home cook. Nothing was complicated to make and, while the menu is based on French cuisine, I appreciate the fact that there are no croissant recipes in the book. Any of the recipes using croissants do so by having the home cook buy them ready-made. It’s not that I don’t want to bake croissants but with a book that emphasizes the enjoyment of the meal, I’m not sure I want to spend hours making them. The Maman recipes are accessible and adaptable.

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Banana Lavender Cornmeal Waffles w/ Vanilla Mascarpone, p. 28-30

The first recipe I made was the Banana-Lavender Cornmeal Waffles w/ Vanilla Mascarpone. What is really interesting about this recipe is the way it uses bananas — by roasting them until blackened in the oven! By preparing the bananas in this way, they become richly sweet and adds moisture to the cornmeal (which can have a dry texture if not properly hydrated). Fluffy centres with a crispy crust are how I like my waffles! These were topped with a vanilla-infused whipped mascarpone which was another delicious textural element to the dish.

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Crêpes w/ Mushrooms, Gruyère and Herbes de Provence, p. 53-54

While I’ve never been to Maman, one of the recipes took me back to my years growing up and living in Edmonton. Every so often when my sister and I would have a day off school my mom would take us downtown to have lunch with my dad and, if we were lucky, he would take us to The Creperie. Located in the basement of a building on 103rd street, it was a cozy, warm place to enjoy a meal — one that always consisted of some type of savory-filled crepe (my sister and I always favored the Crepe St. Jacques or Crepe Miramar). Living so far away (the pandemic has made this distance seem impossibly vast), I was glad for the recipe for Crepes w/ Mushrooms, Gruyere, and Herbes de Provence from the Maman cookbook. With one bite I was instantly transported! And, while they give one type of filling, they suggest others in the notes. My mind is opening to a world of different combinations and themes.

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Sophie Sandwich: Curried Cauliflower w/ Pickled Cucumber, Pomegranate and Mint, p. 100-101

Maman: The Cookbook has also been just the thing for making delicious casual lunches and light suppers using its recipes for sandwiches, salads, and soups. I found the sandwich recipes could be prepped ahead of time so that the only thing I was doing at supper was assembling. My daughter and I love the Sophie Sandwich (Curried Cauliflower w/ Pickled Cucumbers, Pomegranate, and Mint Yogurt), and my husband enjoys the Jessalyn Sandwich (Halloumi w/ Eggplant, Cucumbers, and Pickled Red Onions). The Phyllis Salad (Apple and Cashew Spinach Salad w/ Curry Vinaigrette) was mouth-watering! The perfect combination of flavours and textures. And now that the autumn evenings are cool, soup is just the thing to warm us up — the recipe for Sweet Corn Soup is delightful! I had frozen some farmer’s market corn from the summer that I used to make the recipe and I loved the idea of garnishing the soup with toasted salted corn nuts.

I’ve also found recipes that make good after school snacks. The Vanilla Oatmeal Raisin* Cookies (I took their suggestion and subbed in dried tart cherries and a handful of chocolate chips) and the Chouquettes were instant favourites, with my daughter making weekly requests for the sugar-covered “puffs.” When we open the door after walking home from school, I love how the house smells — warm and sweet. While the primary reason to bake is to eat the results, I find an inordinate amount of comfort from the smells that baking produces.

Maman: The Cookbook is full of casual, all-day recipes to enjoy. The experience of visiting a Maman café is wonderfully transcribed through the recipes — the café feels like home and, your home feels like the café in all the best, most delicious ways.

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Phyllis Salad: Apple and Cashew Spinach Salad w/ Curry Vinaigrette, p. 119

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Penguin Canada for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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