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Oct. 15, 2021 | Friday
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Bon Apetit: Author makes French cuisine ‘approachable’ in new book
Audrey Le Goff, author of food blog Pardon Your French and new cookbook Rustic French Cooking Made Easy. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now

Audrey Le Goff is on a mission to make authentic French cuisine more approachable – a feat she’s accomplished with the release of her new cookbook, Rustic French Cooking Made Easy.

The book, which she dedicates “To my beloved France,” will be available at all major book retailers Oct. 8 and features 60 handpicked recipes she says represents the French home cooking she grew up eating in Brittany, France, and surrounding region.

“My goal with this book is to show people that French cuisine is not that difficult. It can be very easy.”

She says she wanted to break the cliché of French food; it’s not all rich pastries and crepes.

The book showcases many comfort foods, like meat dishes and stews, as well as some of her favourite desserts. All ingredients can be found locally, so there’s no need to be intimidated, she says.

People “think they can’t do it and they don’t have the ingredients here. But all the recipes I’ve done in the book I’ve purchased my groceries from stores around here. All of the ingredients are easy to find and not overly expensive, and with approachable steps,” she says.

Le Goff, who works full-time as the marketing co-ordinator for The Exchange Brewery and has no formal chef training, says she has been passionate about French cooking and sharing her recipes for as long as she can remember.

About three years ago she moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake with her husband Marc Rocco, and began working on creating her food blog, Pardon Your French, as a weekend hobby. She’s been showcasing her devotion to French cuisine alongside a love for photography ever since.

“I’ve always been cooking French food and I’ve always loved photography. One day I just put the two together and decided to start the blog. I had no idea where it was going to go,” she says.

Blogging is about more than just cooking, taking photos and writing, she says. With her background in marketing she was well-equipped to brand the blog and market herself to reach a wide audience, which might be how a publishing company discovered her so quickly.

After building readership of her blog over the first year, she was approached by Page Street Publishing, which wanted to turn her recipes into a book.

“It was pretty fast. I know a few bloggers who have been blogging for years and then they eventually release a book. I was lucky enough that after one year they contacted me,” she says.

Her initial worries of working with an editor were put to rest once they began collaborating, she says. It was stress-free and easy.

“I feel like it was definitely a good experience, professional and personal. It’s exactly what I wanted, and I have no regrets about it. I’m very happy about the book,” she says.

Le Goff says she moved to Canada after meeting and falling in love with her husband. He was from the Niagara area and knew it well.

“A few years ago, we got married and we moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake. He grew up in St. Catharines and brought me to Niagara-on-the-Lake a few times, and I really liked it.”

The book reflects her life right now: “I’m French, but I live in Canada – and this is what I wanted to do. Authentic French recipes, but you can make them here.”

When it came time to decide which recipes to publish – she started with a list of about 200 she had to narrow down to 60 – her husband played an important role.

As she cooked and sampled the finalists, she ran each dish by her husband. His Canadian background was vital in helping her make appropriate choices for a North American audience.

“He would tell me, ‘OK, this would appeal to the Canadian/American people, and maybe this wouldn’t,’ which was good because I grew up eating French – my palate maybe is a bit different. So, something that is very appealing and sounds delicious to me, maybe it’s not for people here.”

When asked to pick a favourite recipe from the book Le Goff says she couldn’t choose. However, she says she has a sweet tooth, so anything near the back of the book wins her favour. Her taste also varies by the time of year, she adds.

“I guess it depends on the season. This one called a fougasse. It’s like a French focaccia. It’s really great to make in the summer, it’s really easy.”

Creating the book was a learning experience for Le Goff, and though she says she’s going to enjoy the release of this book now and isn’t thinking about another at the moment, she isn’t going to rule out the possibility of publishing more in the future.

In the meantime, she says she’s going to continue blogging and taking what she’s learned, such as creating recipes with her readers’ needs in mind, and building up what she’s already started.

Rustic French Cooking Made Easy can be preordered on Amazon now and will be in stores on Oct. 8. Visit her website for a sample of the recipes featured in her book.