Parade’s Community Table: Maria Zihammou’s Butter-Rich ‘French Bistro’ Cookbook

Vinegar Chicken. Photo by Åsa Dahlgren
Vinegar Chicken. Photo by Åsa Dahlgren

Don’t have an American heart attack when I reveal this simple truth about food: Rich and memorable recipes start with butter. It’s why I’m loving Maria Zihammou’s new cookbook, French Bistro. It goes after my heart, and it also demonstrates how to enjoy French homestyle seasonal and fresh ingredients in a beautifully designed cookbook with photographs and illustrations reflecting glimpses of Zihammou’s life in one of the world’s most romantic cities.

French BistroWhen we think of French food, there are thoughts of mad-genius chefs demonstrating several steps to an intricate dish. Zihammou recreates the same French classics in the modern home kitchen. They’re recipes for quick weeknights, fun entertaining and leisurely weekends.

Her intimidating-sounding Vinegar Chicken, or “Poulet au Vinaigre,” (recipe provided here) has a sweet and buttery taste as the meat easily falls off the bone. In addition to her Vinegar Chicken, Zihammou has a daring section of French favorites not traditionally part of the American palate, such as a Snails with Garlic and Parsley, Sweetbreads with Madeira Sauce, and her veal liver recipe with raisins is a convincing dish to try.

For the cheese lover in all of us, Zihammou offers a few tips on how the French plate their cheese. Moving into the sweets section of her cookbook, a chocolate mousse with fruit in rum syrup was made in my kitchen using seasonal pears, dried cranberries and finely chopped almonds. Once learning how to make this simple chocolate mousse, you’ll probably never purchase the boxed chocolate pudding, again.

If Zihammou can serve a buttery cookbook full of traditional French cooking made simple and fast with fresh ingredients and modern techniques, your American heart will love you for the butter.

Visit to get the recipe for the Vinegar Chicken recipe by Maria Zihammou.