French Feasts, Dutch Oven (Ames Lai)

Christmas is four days away et bien sûr, I am quite tardy in purchasing some very special gifts for the very special people in my life.

Since I work for a company that rents boutique Parisian flats, I do tend to gift friends and family with French-inspired goodies, items that will inject the everyday life with a bit of la vie française. Better yet, if those goodies can be French food-inspired, I’m practically guaranteed une note de gratitude before the ball drops on New Year’s.

Alas, time is of the essence and a quick trip to Paris is not in the cards before Christmas. But I can still be the belle of their hearts and kitchens by gifting an old standby: a favorite French cookbook, with all the most delicious recipes well-marked, and a quickly-assembled glass jar of sel de mer, glistening and studded with herbs de Provence.

Drying Herbs (Porter Palmer), Salt (Little Brown Pen)

If you’re also delayed in holiday shopping, I don’t mind if you take my idea and make it your own. In fact, I’ve got your back with my favorite French-inspired cookbooks of 2011. Just don’t say I never gave you anything…

1.  Based on the sweet boutiques in San Francisco, Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop is a darling cookbook filled with scalloped pages of classic tart, cake and cookie recipes. I can imagine gifting this girly book with everything needed to make owner, chef and author Meg Ray’s famous Tomboy Cake, pictured on the book’s cover.

Miette (Yuichi Sakuraba, A Baked Creation)

Miette (Violet Blue)

2. I was at a gala celebrating Jacque Pepin’s contribution to culinaria recently and while he had a last minute hiccup that prevented his appearance, his new cookbook Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food stood in for him proudly. Delivered with some very good chocolate to make his version of Chocolate Mousse, this cookbook would be a prized possession.

Chocolate (Honey + Jam)

3. I made a new friend this year. Food stylist and photographer Beatrice Peltre is as delightful in person as she is on her blog, La Tartine Gourmande, and her new beautifully-photographed book, La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life, delivers the sort of healthful recipes that look, sound, and taste quite rich, but are filled with whole, gluten-free ingredients. She suggests many flour substitutes that add more heft to your foods, and I suggest gifting this book with a trio of quinoa, millet and buckwheat flours.

La Tartine Gourmande, the book, and the author Béatrice Peltre (White Loft Style)

4. In 2011, I stumbled upon Stephane Reynaud and now I want every one of his books. Released in 2009 but new to me, French Feasts: 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings feels like a homemade cookbook, ripe with big photos of one-pot wonders. Share this cookbook with a side gift of a big Dutch oven or perhaps a whole free-range chicken, so the recipient can make Stephane’s poulet roti and remember all of France in one bite.

Home Made by Yvette Van Boven (Maggie Battista)

5. While Yvette Van Boven calls Amsterdam home, she spends many weekends in her Paris pied-a-terre. We met virtually sharing our love of the city of light and I now associate her new cookbook Home Made: The Ultimate DIY Cookbook Featuring Over 200 From-Scratch Recipes with being just a little French. Regardless, it’s entirely homemade and acts as a map to building your own homemade pantry. I’d gift this beautifully designed and illustrated book with a big jar of her Homemade Muesli.

A page from Home Made, Homemade Muesli (Anouk Stricher)

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Written by Maggie Battista for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in London, Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Maggie Battista

Passionate about fine dining and old-fashioned hospitality, Maggie is focused on finding hidden, authentic food gems and is absolutely in love with the creamy, salty butter sold all over Paris. She also runs an online magazine and market called Eat Boutique, where she discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. Maggie’s based in Boston, with frequent trips to Paris, Brooklyn, Maine, and northern California.


  1. I am looking for a really good Norman cookbook, based around the traditional Normandy ingredients. Could be in French though would be easier for me in English. Any ideas?

  2. The last two are on my list for 2012- thank you so much for the great reviews!

    Happy Holidays and a prosperous 2012!

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