Every once in a while, if we are lucky, we will come across a music album, painting, photograph or book that captures us – a source of inspiration we cannot let go and keep going to over and over again. This is what Béa Peltre’s new cookbook “La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an inspired life” has done for me.
I make time in my day to sit down with Béa’s book. I take the time to savor it. I sigh, walk away, but I must return to it to admire a photograph or look at a recipe once again. “I must try that!” I say out loud. Eggplant, lamb, and winter squash crumble, mille-feuille of shrimp, grapefruit, and avocado or upside down cranberry cake have my name written all over them.
“La Tartine Gourmade: Recipes for an inspired life” is a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, and memories. A glimpse into this beautiful life Béa has created for her family surrounded by food and nature.
Béa needs little introduction as her blog La Tartine Gourmade is one of the most celebrated food blogs today. I was incredibly lucky to sit at her dining room table a few months ago and eat some of her delicious food – recipes from this book that I actually continue to bake at home for my family. Course after course, she blew us away with her bright flavors, texture, and presentation. A meal I will never forget.
Béa was kind enough to take some time to answer some of my questions. A little insight into her creative process.
Aran: One thing I really enjoy about the book is that it is naturally gluten-free without compromising texture. Can you share with us your own personal journey to gluten-free cooking?
Béa: The story is simple. About six years ago now, I started to show signs of gluten intolerance—even if I am not celiac. I wanted to feel better, so I took the challenge to learn to do what I know best, cook and bake, but gluten free. At first, I probably felt a bit overwhelmed, and perhaps intimidated too, but I learned to love it, and decided that I would cook gluten free moving forward as I preferred the flavors I discovered along the way. I don’t like to focus on it though because my whole approach to cooking is rather to focus on creating simple and beautiful everyday dishes. They happen to be gluten free.
Aran: What do you see happening in your professional career? What would you like to see happen?
Béa: Of course, I’d love to write another book as I have a lot of recipe ideas. And now, I am currently making great steps to developing more of my food styling and photography career. So I couldn’t be happier.
Aran: Your cooking style is rooted in French cuisine yet it is very eclectic. When did you start discovering the East and other cultures that have influenced you so much?
Béa: I’ve always loved to travel since I was a child. I lived in New Zealand for two years when I was a young adult. From there, I traveled to islands and countries around. That alone fed my curiosity for other food cultures. Since food is definitely one of my favorite “activities”, so to speak, I could not help but make notes wherever I went. My cooking style is French-rooted because naturally, this is what I know the best, but I love to create dishes that are inspired by all of the foods and ingredients I’ve discovered throughout my travels.
Aran: If you could cook just one 4-course dinner for friends from this book what would it be?
Béa: I would start with the fennel and green pea soup with wasabi-flavored whipped cream and sautéed shrimp, or the mille-feuille of shrimp, grapefruit and avocado. Then we’d make a risotto (gorgonzola and pear with toasted walnuts) with a side salad, and to finish, maybe the apple and pear verrines or the hazelnut chocolate Molten cakes—because anything chocolate is a winner in my eyes.
Aran: The styling and photography are also such important elements in the book and your work in general, what do you take into account when deciding how to style and shoot a recipe? How do you approach that aspect of the job?
Béa: I follow my instinct, really. When I start a photo shoot, I don’t necessarily have an idea of the end result for the pictures. But my workflow is simple. I take into account colors and shapes of the ingredients/dish I am shooting. Once I have designed the recipe, I build the images slowly around that. It’s really a trial process. One that keeps moving. On set and once the food is ready, I compose the image by constantly moving the objects/prop while checking through the camera viewer. Until I reach a composition that looks harmonious in my eyes. I want to tell a story with a picture. An emotion. In the end, the images reflect my sense of aesthetics, the colors, shapes and forms that I find harmonious.
Aran: What advice would you give to those looking to write a book themselves?
Béa: It depends on the angle of the book. But surely, I’d advise not wanting to squeeze everything you want to write inside a first book, because the chances that it won’t fit are high. Instead, find the right balance following a clear outline.
Béa was kind enough to share two copies of her book with us. So if you would like to win a copy of “La Tartine Gourmade: Recipes for an inspired life”, please leave a comment between now and Sunday February 12 at 4pm EST to enter this giveaway.
Béa’s book will remain on my “handy cookbook shelf” for a long time as I foresee it.
And I believe you will love it too.
All images are copyright of Béatrice Peltre and are used with author’s permission.