Cookbook Club Lifestyle

From Palette to Palate: The Monet Cookbook Review

April 30, 2017

I’ve always been inspired by art. As a child, a fascination with colouring and doodling expanded into drawing, led to art classes and fashion sketches in high school, a degree in art history and a current obsession with photography, styling and editing. Seeing the world through others’ visual perspective, expressing through my own, and finding art and its potential in everything we see, touch, smell and do is a lovely way to be, and truly evident in The Monet Cookbook. 

Inspired by his gardens in Giverny, France, the Impressionist artist Claude Monet was as masterful with fine arts as he was a food connoisseur. Many say that his journals are filled with detailed recipes, those he kept company with and notes about what he ate and conversations that were had.

On our first stop on our honeymoon tour of France, Phil and I jumped in a rental car and drove a short hour to Giverny. In an otherwise small town, Monet’s garden was a masterpiece hidden behind a stone wall; flowers and vines, benches to stop and stare, the songs of birds and buzzing of insects and his home filled with art and a kitchen that boasted copper pots, a wood burning oven and blue and white tiles. And back through the gardens, a pathway led to a bridge overlooking the picturesque and breathtaking water lilies scattered across the pond.

The first time I saw The Monet Cookbook, I knew I had to have it and knew it had to be shelved with the other great artists I had studied from art books and the inventive minds of chefs from cookbooks we had cooked from at home. When art meets food; this beautiful book features Claude Monet’s original recipes alongside stunning reproductions of his paintings, and moments from his life in Giverny.

The recipes include a breadth of rustic and simple dishes, from comforting casseroles, sultry seafood dishes, and French tarts, pastries and cakes; an honour to Monet and his aesthetic, the Monet Cookbook is the next best thing to dining amongst him and company in his home.

 Eggs Orsini | The Monet Cookbook Review

What was it like cooking the recipe? A simple 4 ingredient dish, we love the simple inventiveness of separating egg white, whipping them into stiff peaks and then cooking them back with their egg yolks. This is a genius recipe. We didn’t follow Monet in cooking them in a casserole dish, instead we cooked them in single ramekins, thus altering the cooking time, which we didn’t account for and they slightly overcooked. Note for next time.

What did the dish taste like? When removed from the oven the egg whites had crisped up and formed almost a cheese bread around the egg yolk. Topped with chives, the dish resembled a toad in the hole; and tasted like a pastry breakfast sandwich. Layers of flaky pastry (although only egg whites) with egg yolks and chives in every bite.

Did the finished dish look like the pictures? Our egg whites we’re overcooked a bit, making a bread-like texture around the yolk. Our yolks were not runny, again a result of overcooking, but the dish was beautiful for what it was and how it was presented in single ramekins.

Would we make it again? Because we know we didn’t account for the change in baking dish, we want to make this recipe again. It was the perfect little, compact dish that when topped with a dollop of ketchup or a squirt of pepper would make for the ultimate brunch item.

Stuffed Tomatoes | The Monet Cookbook Review

What was it like cooking the recipe? The recipe instructions were simplified and easy to grasp. We only needed to read it once and then execute the recipe, which is a very big win for what we can only assume was a French translated recipe.

What did the dish taste like? Thanksgiving in a bite. This dish was meaty, hearty and comforting. It was the best stuffing in a tomato we’ve ever had. The bread, mushrooms, bacon and egg yolks worked together to mimic real holiday stuffing and sausage in every bite.

Did the finished dish look like the pictures? Definitely. We used small heirloom tomatoes because they were on sale but they added an heir of rustic and French notes beyond Monet’s based on the texture and colour.

Would we make it again? This is the kind of dish that you rip out of a magazine, pin it to your fridge and make it for every big family occasion. It’s the kind of recipe that is transferred down to generations, and broken telephone eventually leads to a recipe that has been with our family for generations. The perfect accompaniment to Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner, these stuffed tomatoes are simple and rustic, hearty and a true peasant dish at its finest.

Strawberry Mousse | The Monet Cookbook Review

What was it like cooking the recipe? 20 minutes. 5 ingredients. 2 steps. Pure heaven. The recipe was simple and straightforward and when a recipe comes out looking and tasting the way it should there is a true confidence that is intended to the cook making the dish. Cooking the dish was an art form in its own way, from making strawberry puree as your paint, whipping the egg whites into stiff peaks and combining.

What did the dish taste like? In a word: heaven. Lights, airy, most, subtle, pure, beautiful, elegant, simple, decadent, teasing and with a hint of strawberry, perfection. If this were an art show, these mousse would be pièce de résistance. This dish is indescribable. The only way to describe this dish, is when eating it, close your eyes and we guarantee you this is what Monet’s paintings would taste like.

Did the finished dish look like the pictures? It looked exactly the way it was supposed to. We didn’t get as much height on the actual rise but we also used larger ramekins than the recipe called for, we assume the heaviness didn’t fully allow the dish to gain height. Other than that it was beautiful. A dish we would be proud to serve Monet himself.

Would we make it again? Morning, noon and night. This is the kind of dish you whip up in 20 minutes to impress your guests. If you want to make a statement, this is the dish for you. It was simple, elegant, subtle and impactful, airy, light and feminine. If Monet’s work could be summed up into one dish, it would be this strawberry mousse.


Verdict

If you are an art lover, a food lover, a basic human; you need to get this book. A true conversation piece in it’s own, we can’t stop talking about the recipes, the experience cooking the recipes and for me, the moment when my two passions collided. Food and art, art and food, The Monet Cookbook has captured my heart and I am so completely in love with reading it, eating from it, looking at paintings from it; a true piece of art that deserves to be cooked from and enjoyed in Monet’s gardens.

Bon appetit,

Chef Sous Chef

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