From The Franeys, A Product Of Love

Cookbook: Daughter Collaborated With Her Late Father On A Collection Of Recipes To Go With Tv Series.

April 23, 1997|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,SUN STAFF

Claudia Franey Jensen always wanted to write a cookbook with her father, the noted and much-beloved chef, TV star, book author and newspaper columnist Pierre Franey.

Franey, who collaborated with Maryland Public Television for his cooking series, wrote 14 cookbooks, five of them companions to his television shows. He always worked with a collaborator -- "He was a chef, not a writer," Jensen said -- and was confident that he and Claudia, who had worked in newspaper and magazine publishing and in TV, would work well together when they had the chance.

That opportunity came a few years ago. "I happened to be living in Europe," Jensen said. She had moved to Paris in 1992, with her husband, who is in insurance, and her son, Nicholas, now 9. That was perfect, because Franey wanted to write a book about the best chefs in Europe -- some, but not all of them, French.

Continental cooking had changed in the three decades since Julia Child, the doyenne of French cooking education in America, had popularized French techniques and ingredients, Franey believed; the emphasis was less on classic technique and more on lighter preparations, less on butter and cream and more on fresh local ingredients. It was time for a new book.

"The idea," Jensen said, "was to have a lighter approach to cooking -- to work with less butter, olive oil instead of butter, no cream, low-fat yogurt." Of course, she noted, "no butter" doesn't mean no butter: It's still OK to add it at the end of preparing a sauce, just to smooth it out.

"He could never give it up completely," Jensen said, smiling.

The result is "Pierre Franey Cooks With His Friends" (Artisan Books, 1997, $30), a companion to the TV series that began airing this month, "Pierre Franey's Cooking in Europe."

The book is being published posthumously; Franey died unexpectedly last October. For Jensen, the book is part of her father's continuing legacy, another example of his love of food and cooking and his gift for touching and engaging people.

"The emphasis is on the chef and the region," Jensen said. "Usually we were in an area working with the chef for two or three days."

The television series focused on the bounty of the region. "When we were in Parma, it was Parmesan cheese. Chefs in Europe really depend on what's available locally -- the asparagus Europeans adore is white asparagus."

Jensen would meet her father on location with his chef friends. "We went into the kitchen. He cooked, they cooked."

In Lyon, the two worked with legendary "cuisine minceur" chef Paul Bocuse. "I came down on the train and we spent two days, just being in the kitchen, taking notes, writing recipes. Every night my father and I would sit down and talk -- about his reflections on the chefs, about how the day had gone."

In Lyon, Bocuse contributed chicken and vegetables with puff pastry, and black sea bass with a potato crust and light vinaigrette. Franey offered mackerel fillets in white wine, leeks vinaigrette, potato-goat cheese quiche, and spinach with nutmeg, among other dishes.

"People in Lyon are very serious about their food," Franey and Jensen write in that chapter.

Jensen said the Franey family is serious about its food as well. Though none of his children followed Pierre into the food business, all learned to love the process and the panoply of cooking. "My sister and brother and I were always in the kitchen," Jensen said. "He passed on his love of cooking. We're all good cooks."

Jensen was in Baltimore recently to promote the book, and to attend a small, private MPT fund-raiser held at Nancy Longo's Pierpoint restaurant in Fells Point. She recalled that just the weekend before, she had been home with her family for Easter and "We were all at the stove. My mother was cooking, my brother."

Among the dishes: chocolate souffles and Smithfield ham with Madeira sauce. "It was very comforting, carrying on the tradition."

Here are some of the recipes from "Pierre Franey Cooks With His Friends." The first is from Lyon, his stay with Paul Bocuse.

Potato-goat cheese quiche

Serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes or any small new potatoes

salt, to taste

2 garlic cloves, peeled

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

2 cups drained plain low-fat yogurt

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

pinch of cayenne pepper

cheese pastry dough (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the potatoes and place them in a small saucepan with water to cover. Add salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, or until they are done. Let cool, peel and cut them (carefully so as not to break them) into 1/4-inch or smaller slices.

Meanwhile, as the potatoes cook, add the garlic to the pot of simmering water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove and cut the cloves in half, removing any green core, and chop finely.

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