I first read French Women Don’t Get Fat as a high school freshman, still madly consuming diet books as though they might sustain me. Thank God I found this one–it is part of what put me on the path to seasonal, whole foods. The common sense approach was new to me and though I never tried the plan, this is the book that lead me to read Real Food, and ultimately to my interest in nutrition.
After many re-reads, French Women is still delightful and Mireille Guiliano’s wisdom is still timeless. Based on her experience loosing weight and keeping it off for several decades, Guiliano writes about the process she and her family physician went through to return her to her healthy size. Not only does she prescribe the same process she went through, but Guiliano writes about topics like seasonality, chocolate and bread (some common vices), and eating for any age range.
This book is part memoir, part health advice, part cookbook, and all captivating. Full of allusions and personal stories, this book has something for each of us, not just Francophiles or ladies searching for the way to lose the last few pounds.
I highly recommend this book as a fun read and a great source of recipes! Not to mention, if you are an avid reader, you could finish it in a day (I reread it over the course of 5 hours in trains). Find it here.
Now, for funzies: here is the croissant recipe!
French Women Don't Get Fat Croissants
1 cup milk plus 2 tbsp to brush over croissants
2 tsp Active Dry yeast
2.25 cups plus 3 tbsp. sifted all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk
Friday Evening (Day 1)
1. Heat 1/4 cup of milk to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk. Stir in 6 tbsp flour from the 2.25 cups and whisk until there are no lumps. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in volume (It will take about 20 minutes).
2. Mix the sugar and salt into the remaining flour.
3. Heat the remaining milk. Transfer the raised dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the lukewarm milk and, with the mixer at high-speed, start adding the sugar, salt and flour from step 2, a little at a time, reducing the speed to low-medium until the dough is sticky and soft.
4. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Saturday Morning (Day 2)
1. Bring the butter to room temperature and work it with the heel of your hand to incorporate the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour until smooth. Shape into a square.
2. Sprinkle the work surface with the flour, shape the cold dough into a 6×15 inch rectangle (portrait, not landscape), and spread the butter square on the upper 2/3 of the rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the sides and top. Fold the dough like a letter into thirds. Turn the dough counterclockwise (It will open like a notebook with the flap on your right), then again roll out the dough into the 6×15 rectangle and fold as before.
3. Transfer the dough to a baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours.
Saturday Afternoon (Day 2)
1. Roll out the dough 2 more times, wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Sunday Morning (Day 3)
1. About 1.5 hours before baking time, remove the dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle flour on the work surface. Roll the dough into a 15 inch circle, working as quickly as possible. Using a knife, cut the dough into quarters and then cut each quarter into 3 triangles.
2. With both hands, roll the base of each triangle toward the remaining corner, Do not curl the ends in the croissant shape. Transfer the croissants to a baking sheet and brush with 2 tbsp milk. Let stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes or until the croissants have doubled in volume.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the croissants with the glaze and bake for 15-20 minutes. If the croissants brown too fast, cover them loosely with foil and continue baking. Let cool 20 minutes before serving.