"I believe that we eat with our eyes first," says blogger, food stylist and cookbook author, Beatrice Peltre. It takes one glance at the photography on her blog, La Tartine Gourmande, or in her cookbook, La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes For An Inspired Life, to see how deeply this philosophy informs her approach to preparing and plating food.
Peltre's love of food began in the French countryside, where she spent her childhood surrounded by beautiful homegrown and homemade food. "My father's parents were farmers, so I kept vivid memories of spending time on the farm, eating the foods they grew and made," she explains.
She recalls preparing food during those early days in France, as well: "I remember helping my mother in the garden during the summer to pick peas, beans and fruit. Then making jams and preserves with her. I can still remember the aromas of those afternoons spent in the kitchen."
Just as she once helped her mother make preserves, Peltre's daughter, Lulu, 3, is now her adorable sous-chef. "She likes to say, 'We did it together, maman!'" As for Peltre's husband, Philip? Although he can cook well, he leaves it to her, claiming "she does it better." While Peltre's not entirely convinced of his argument, it suits her just fine.
Although the self-taught gourmand always aspired to writing a cookbook, she didn't know how to approach the endeavor. So, in 2005, Peltre created a blog where she kept notes on her favorite recipes and shared them with friends. Fast-forward seven years and that blog has blossomed into La Tartine Gourmande, a mouthwatering hit of inspiration for anyone who shares Peltre's passion for food, photography and inspired living.
The success of her blog paved the way for what followed: a full-length cookbook that she wrote, styled and photographed. The book hit shelves earlier this year and, although it was a long process, she is now enjoying the succulent fruits of her labor. "I am really proud of the result," Peltre says.
Gorgeously styled, the cookbook includes recipes that reflect Peltre's philosophy toward cooking and eating: stunning dishes made with simple, organic ingredients.
Her recipes, which took many nights of testing and perfecting, have French roots with a modern flair and exotic touches, largely influenced by her travels and her desire to try new ingredients. It's precisely the type of rustic-gourmet food you can imagine serving at a backyard gathering with friends and family, everyone seated elbow-to-elbow at a cozy, casually set harvest table, enjoying how the food looks, smells and tastes.
"I want to touch people's senses when they see my photographs and try my recipes," says Peltre. "Someone once told me that my food is whimsical, that it showed that I liked to play with foods. I think this is true," she adds. That playfulness is evident in her artful styling and creative presentation. Rather than making a large tart, for example, Peltre prefers to serve tartlets because they look "cuter" on the plate.
"I want to feel that I am celebrating food every day!" says Peltre. And that's precisely what this book is, an elegant homage to fresh, beautiful food that is best enjoyed with family and friends.
Click here for one of Beatrice's recipes, Salmon and Watercress Quiche.
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