Monthly Archives: December 2011

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French Cuisine for the Young & Broke: A Modern Day Julia Child’s Culinary Challenge for College Students

By Lauren Landry on December, 21st 2011

With her landmark cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child  introduced French cuisine to the American public. With her blog, Julie Powell introduced Julia Child to a new generation of Americans (it even got her a movie deal). With her cookbook, BU alumna Eléonor Picciotto may just become a modern version of them both. French Cuisine for the Young & Broke, not only makes French cuisine more accessible, but introduces it to a new demographic: America’s college students.

Growing up in France, Picciotto’s mother hated being in the kitchen, and often delegated cooking responsibilities to her daughter. Her appetite for French cuisine and culinary skills came from there, and she brought them with her to Boston University, where she first decided to study journalism four years ago.

While at school, armed with only a hotpot, Picciotto began making meals for the friends she’d formed a supper club with. Every week, they’d take turns hosting dinner, and, every week, she continued to surprise them. After seeing her friends’ rave reaction at the homemade applesauce she’d thrown together in mere minutes, made simply with cooked apples and a dash of cinnamon, she realized that they didn’t have a sense of how to combine and prepare basic ingredients.

“I had to prove my recipe to them,” Picciotto said, who recreated the applesauce right then and there. “The problem here is the lack of knowledge.”

During Picciotto’s sophomore year, when she was a member of the BU Ski Team, she tore a ligament and broke her femur. Doctors prohibited her from skiing for 18 months and ordered that she rest for six weeks in a cast. She knew she’d go stir crazy sitting on the couch, but that’s when her friends said, “You love to write, you love to cook and you love to eat. Instead of sitting here driving yourself crazy, why not write a cook book?”

She started with the recipes she knew by heart, and went from there, asking friends to help her with the photography and design. Nearly two years later, the book was complete, and her quest for publishers began. At age 19, Picciotto kept hearing, “Because she doesn’t have a name, we can’t publish her.” To them, she was just one student among hundreds of others, but that didn’t stop her.

“This is French cuisine written by French students for students,” Picciotto said. “No one had that concept yet.”

She decided to self-publish her book earlier this month with Lulu, and it’s already gained attention. In its December 9th issue, Entertainment Weekly singled the title out as the “best name for a cookbook,” and over 200 people attended the cookbook’s launch party in Manhattan, even though only 85 were expected to attend.

Picciotto graduated from Boston University in January, and is now blogging from home while working as a marketing intern for a prominent Manhattan-based jeweler. In February, she’ll be moving to Geneva for a full-time job with a Swiss watch company, but won’t forget about the “Young & Broke” in Boston. She already has plans to speak at the French Cultural Center of Boston on January 12th, and a digital version of her cookbook is expected to be released soon, that she’ll work on marketing here and abroad.

“I can’t pretend I’m going to change the entire eating habits of the students of America,” Picciotto said. “But, this book is a start.”

To get to know Picciotto a bit better, here a few other questions we asked her –

What are the four ingredients everyone should have in their pantry? Lemon, mustard, olive oil and some herbs, because they only cost a dollar and add flavor. In terms of baking, though, I’d say eggs, butter, sugar and flour.

What’s the first dish you ever made? Quatre Quarts! It’s the French version of the U.S. pound cake, but lighter.

What are your go-to dishes? If I have nothing at home, something with chicken, rice and sour cream, because I usually at least have that. If you tell me a couple hours ahead of time, salmon tartare (above). Or, if you give me a day’s notice, then veal milanese, my favorite dish.

 

Here is the link: http://bostinno.com/2011/12/21/french-cuisine-for-the-young-broke-a-modern-day-julia-childs-culinary-challenge-for-college-students/

Featured on BU Today!

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Featured on BU Today !

By Amy Laskowski

Eléonor Picciotto says when she started writing her cookbook, she “had no idea what I was getting myself into, but the more I wrote, the more ideas I got, and it became a real, concrete project.” Photo courtesy of Eléonor Picciotto

Eléonor Picciotto’s love affair with French cuisine and all things culinary began as a child. Growing up in Paris, she had a mother who didn’t like to be in the kitchen and would put her in charge of dinner. The experience came in handy when Picciotto (COM’11) arrived at BU. Undeterred by the lack of a kitchen in the dorms, she managed to whip up angel hair pasta, couscous, and tabbouleh armed with only a hotpot. Now living in New York, she has a kitchen of her own and has graduated to more advanced dishes like cured bresaola and Nutella roulé.

Picciotto’s culinary inventiveness and her love of fresh, healthy, French-influenced food inspired her to write French Cuisine for the Young and Brokea cookbook of fast, easy, and healthy recipes, which she self-published earlier this month. It’s already gaining attention: Entertainment Weekly singled the title out in its December 9 issue as the “best name for a cookbook,” and over 200 people
attended the cookbook’s launch party in Manhattan.

French Cuisine takes readers through the entire dining experience—from appetizers to desserts—and provides easy-to-follow instructions for 150 recipes using minimal, inexpensive ingredients and equipment. In addition to tried-and-true recipes such as marinated chicken, Picciotto writes step-by-step directions for French crepes and a shockingly simple 10-minute soup.

Picciotto says her experience at BU helped motivate her to write the book. “My friends and I formed a supper club at BU where we would take turns hosting dinner every week,” she recalls. “One night I was running really late and I was in charge of dessert, so I rifled through my fridge to see what I could find, and all I had were apples.” Mashing cooked apples with a little bit of cinnamon, she rushed off to the party. Her friends raved, to her  surprise.

“I found myself observing how my friends ate, and they didn’t seem to have a sense of how to combine and prepare ingredients,” Picciotto says. “When someone orders a pizza, it’s $12, but for the same price you can have an amazing meal, and you don’t need unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients. It doesn’t take hours to create a dinner.”

Picciotto began writing the cookbook after she tore a ligament and broke her femur as a member of the BU ski team during her sophomore year. Doctors prohibited skiing for the next 18 months and ordered her to rest for six weeks in a thigh-to-ankle cast. She soon went stir-crazy.

“I’m an energetic person, and if I didn’t start a project soon I was going to kill someone,” she says, laughing. “My friends reminded me that I love to eat and I love to write, so they suggested that I write a cookbook. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but the more I wrote, the more ideas I got, and it became a real, concrete project.”

The book took a year and a half to complete. Writing the recipes was tedious, Picciotto says, because she had to remind herself to make every step as clear as she could. Her friend Ben Timmins (CAS’11, COM’11) took photos for the book and another friend helped design it.

Many of Picciotto’s recipes are inspired by her day-to-day diet, family and friends, and the great restaurant meals she has had. A lot of times, she looks through her fridge to see what ingredients she has, and improvises with those. “Within a week I try to get down the right measurements, ingredients, and taste,” she says. “It usually takes about three times to get the perfect recipe.”

She blogs about cooking from home, and is currently working as a marketing intern for a well known Manhattan-based jeweler, but will be moving to Geneva soon for a full-time job with a Swiss watch company. But for now, she cooks dinner almost every night and is on call for friends who need dinner ideas.

“Whenever I’m tired, I remind myself that I shouldn’t have to spend money on something that is less good than what I could make,” she says. “I want to know exactly what I’m putting in my mouth.”

 

French Cuisine for the Young and Broke – Book Launch

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Last Tuesday,  French Cuisine for the Young and Broke was officially launched at  Jadis Restaurant in the Lower East Side.

After four days of intense shopping, cutting, cooking and baking, 16 recipes directly taken from the book were offered to avid palates eager to discover home-made deliciousness. Eighty-five people were expected, but two hundred people in and out showed up.

All of them were able to leave with their little gift bag with a custom-made glass jar filled with cookie samples – from coconut rocks to brownies, chocolate or honey madeleines, short bread or cat tongue cookies) as well as a custom wooden spoon – THE necessary utensil to succeed in making most of the 132 recipes portrayed in the book.

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