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Book review: The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry

Sometimes a book on a chef’s culinary memoirs inspires a creative meal in the kitchen. Sometimes it further decorates your fantasy of attending culinary school and becoming a successful professional chef. Sometimes a book does both. Kathleen Flinn’s The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry may not only compel you to craft a mouthwatering multi-course meal, it may also get you entertaining the idea of throwing caution to the wind and attending Le Cordon Bleu or another culinary school. And for those of you who are a bit more conservative, you can live vicariously through Flinn by making one of her recipes and, perhaps, taking a cooking class at your local culinary center.

The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry

Love, laughter and tears at Le Cordon Bleu

At 36, American Kathleen Flinn cashed in her savings, moved to Paris and survived the rigors of the world’s most famous cooking school Le Cordon Bleu.

The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry chronicles her roller coaster of emotions dealing with hot-tempered chef instructors (who spoke only French), her competitive classmates and falling in love. In addition to finally mastering the basics of French cuisine, she also takes you on a journey of other personal triumphs that will leave you hungry for more – more recipes, more stories, more lessons in life.

Page after page, recipe after recipe, Flinn engages all of your senses. By the end of the book, you can’t help but feel like you were momentarily transported to Paris. Even better, you will learn a few new cooking terms and techniques along the way. This is a delicious story worth devouring.

Provencal Tomato Spread

Makes about 2-1/2 cups

Called Diffusion de Tomate Provencal in French, this spread uses quintessential ingredients from the south of France. Serve with crackers or bread or, as Flinn prefers, use it to accompany seared or grilled fish.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, peeled, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped (1-1/2 cups)
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, concasse (1 cup)*
6 to 8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (3/4 cup)
12 Nicoise olives, chopped
3/4 tablespoon capers, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh basil
Coarse sea salt and black pepper

In a small saute pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add the tomatoes, olive and capers and cook gently. Remove from heat. When cool, add the basil. Add salt and pepper to taste

*Concasse refers to peeled, seeded and finely chopped tomatoes. Cut an X in the bottom of the tomatoes and drop them in boiling water for a few seconds. Remove them and quickly plunge them into a bowl of ice water. Tear the flaps on the X to remove the skin. Using a small knife, carefully cut out the seeds and core so that only the red outer edge of the tomato is left. Chop into small pieces.

Related Links

Kathleen’s Blog cookbook reviews cooking tips and techniques Food and Cooking Channel

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