The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan is one of those coffee table cookbooks that will not stay on your coffee table long. Although it is a beautiful book with great photos, I bet it will be food stained and live in the kitchen right next to the Joy of Cooking. That is where mine is.

I love French food but like many foodies I can be intimidated by difficult looking recipes…until now.

During our work week, Joyce O’Neill (Cooking by the Book’s executive chef) tests recipes that will be used for our corporate hands-on team building events. To be usable by us – what we call eventable – there are two key criteria. First the prep time for a recipie needs to be about an hour or less. Second, the recipe must truly offer my clients something new: teaching new skills, suggesting new flavors, or encouraging teamwork.

In contrast, on my weekends when I am at my stove in Olive New York I like to use cookbooks that will give me that aha moment. The Country Cooking of France is the perfect book for Sunday afternoon in the kitchen. I have already tested six recipes from the book and look forward to more each weekend.

With a recipe selected, before I start cooking I really focus on where I am going to get my ingredients, especially the meat. Meat is one ingredient I do not scrimp on.

I have two wonderful butchers who can supply just about any need I have for any recipe, including country French. These stores are Fleishers in upstate Kingston and Reinbeck, New York, (see links) and Ottomanilli & Sons, Prime Meat Market on Bleeker Street in the City. Both vendors offer the highest quality meat, and their staffs are particularly entertaining and patient. Fleishers, in particular, specializes in organic grass fed meat. My philosophy is simple: if I am going to spend time and money on a recipe I want to ensure the best possible results. It’s not cheating to get that head start. It’s technique.

I have listed two recipes that I really liked, try them and enjoy cooking from a new book.