HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


January 2010 COTM: Patricia Wells *Bistro Cooking* and *Trattoria*

And the votes are in! Post holidays, we will be digging in to two books by Patricia Wells-

Bistro Cooking
Trattoria: Simple and Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy

Available on Amazon for $25 for both books new, plus lots of used copies as low as $2!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Many thanks Yamalam! I've been going through the book and choosing recipes that at first glance look promising. I'm just cooking from the Bistro book, though. My cookbook shelves are groaning, but it's been fun renewing my interest in cooking from books since for the last few years I was just relying on past cooking experiences. I still do from time to time but this cook-along has been a unique experience for me. So thank you for continuing and thanks to all the past COTM coordinators as well.
    BTW: The COTM archive is a terrific resource.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      Don't tell me your Christmas list doesn't have ANY cookbooks on it? Ignore the groans!

    2. YAY! This is awesome. Thanks yamalam!


      1. Bistro Cooking is an excellent book that I use often The recipes are authentic and not very difficult.

        Trattoria, not so much. Italian cooking is not Pat's forte, even though it is well written, as are all her books

        6 Replies
        1. re: Fleur

          I too use Bistro a lot (as well as The Paris Cookbook), so I'll probably concentrate on Trattoria to assess it. Maybe it won't stay on my shelves after this round, since I have many other Italian cookbooks already.

          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

            I'm in a similar boat, Karen. I've had Trattoria for years and haven't really cooked from it, so, I'd like to spend some time with it. Maybe it's a keeper, maybe not, but it would be nice to know, once and for all. I have the Paris Cookbook and my copy of Bistro arrived yesterday (woohoo!)

            If you've got any favorites from Bistro or Paris, I'd love it if you would list them.

            Thank you!


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              TDQ, the Braised Red Cabbage (Choux Rouges Braises) in Bistro knocked my socks off.

              1. re: BangorDin

                My copy of Bistro Cooking is really thrashed - pages stained, corners dog eared, a real well-used mess! I've tried to love Trattoria as much, but it's just not the same level. But Bistro Cooking, now that's really wonderful! In honor of COTM, I'm going to give Trattoria another shot.

                1. re: dtm323

                  Can you tell us some of your favorites from Bistro Cooking?

                  1. re: dtm323

                    Funny,I could have written your posting myself. I love Bistro and use it all the time. My copy is also a mess. The lamb with the potato, onion and tomato gratin was our New Years Day dinner. I am also going to try to enjoy Trattoria. Just thought I would share.

          2. When I voted for this, I didn't realize that I already had it on my shelves. Looking forward to January.

            1. Here's a link to the COTM archive, for those who haven't participated before and are wondering how the whole thing works: http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...


              1 Reply
              1. Bistro Cooking is a great resource--I especially like the chicken Pile ou Face and the gratin recipes are good. There is one stand-out recipe in Trattoria for chicken with lemon and fried sage.

                1 Reply
                1. re: whs

                  another good one from Bistro Cooking: roast tomatoes Provencal. Makes even lousy tomatoes taste good.

                2. I adore Patricia Wells! Here are some online recipes for those who can't access a cookbook.

                  From Bistro Cooking:

                  Bistro Potatoes Sauteed With Garlic & Walnut Oil
                  Chicken Stew with Fennel and Saffron - Bouillabaisse de Poulet Chez Tante Paulette
                  Flaky Sweet Pastry Dough - Pâté Sucrée
                  Roast Lamb with Monsieur Henry's Potato, Onion and Tomato Gratin
                  Gratin Dauphinois
                  Chicken Stew with Fennel & Saffron
                  Pan Bagna - “Bathed” Provençal Sandwich
                  Salad of Fresh Spinach and Sautéed Chicken Livers - La Salade d’Epinards aux Foies de Volailles
                  Restaurant Lou Marquès’ Monkfish Soup with Garlic Cream
                  Jacques Collet’s Fennel and Saffron Bread
                  Marie-Claude Gracia's Chocolate Cake

                  From Trattoria:

                  Saffron Risotto
                  Lemon Risotto
                  Penne alla Bettola - Penne w/ Vodka and Spicy Tomato-Cream
                  Arugula, Pine Nut And Parmesan Salad
                  Tomato Sauce
                  Oven-Dried Tomatoes Recipe

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: toveggiegirl

                    Me too! Thank you for posting the links. I'm very impressed wtih her Paris cookbook and would love to try Trattoria and Bistro recipes before purchasing. The salad of fresh spinach,chicken livers etc. looks excellent, as well the fennel & saffron bread, and the monkfish soup with garlic cream. YUM.

                    1. re: toveggiegirl

                      Will someone who has the Trattoria book please clarify the tomato sauce recipe?? Here's what I got from the site link in toveggiegirl's post:

                      1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
                      1 sm onion; minced
                      3 cloves garlic; minced
                      Sea salt
                      1 3/4 lb crushed tomatoes in puree
                      *Several & -parsley, ba*
                      *leaves and
                      *celery leaves
                      It's the last 3 lines that are v. confusing.

                      1. re: Gio

                        It's "Several sprigs of fresh parsley, bay leaves, and celery leaves, tied in a bundle with cotton twine"

                      2. re: toveggiegirl

                        Thank you for posting the links. I haven't participated yet in COTM, but am looking forward to starting in January, and since I spent much of November weeding out my cookbook shelves, am thrilled to be able to try out some of her recipes before I buy the book(s), Will definiely try some late December/early January and will share my experiences:)

                        1. re: toveggiegirl

                          Some more Patricia Wells recipes (although I am not sure what cookbooks these are from).

                          29 recipes from Food & Wine:

                          17 recipes from cookstr.com

                        2. After a couple of months of being too busy to cook or having my main eater (my husband) away on business, I'm thinking I'll finally be able to delve into January's book. Very excited that this one won, as I've always wanted to cook more from it, and this will be great incentive.

                          The fish with cumin seeds and capers is wonderful. I always just use fillets (lightly floured and pan fried) and sub butter for the oil. An absolute favorite around here. The potatoes au gratin (with a tiny bit of nutmeg added in) are also much loved (although the work of mandolining all those potatoes makes them a little labor intensive).

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Which book has the fish recipe? Sounds lovely.

                            1. re: tcamp

                              Bistro Cooking. It really is a lovely and unusual combination of flavors (especially with the butter instead of oil).

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Gosh, I'm looking that one up when I get to the kitchen bookshelves later today. I need a few more fish recipes. LOL... but I really do! Thank goodness for the Home Cooking board!!

                          2. Some favorites from Bistro Cuisine:

                            Salad of Roquefort, walnuts, and Belgian endive, p. 44
                            Sausage, cheese, and curly endive salad, p. 45
                            Escarole, ham, cheese, and walnut salad, p. 48
                            Green lentil salad, p. 62
                            La Mère Poulard's Zucchini Crêpes, p. 93
                            Chicken bouillabaisse, p. 180
                            Beef stew with wild mushrooms and orange, p. 200
                            Lamb stew with white wine, p. 218

                            I realize as I look at the recipes that I rarely make them quite as listed (even these), so while I've found many of the recipes inspirational, I can't always cite specific ones. Maybe I'll be inspired to follow some recipes more closely for next month.

                            1. I've had Trattoria since 1994 and made a number of recipes. When I first tried "Vodka Pasta" it was new to me...I loved it...still do! It's on page 92. Thought the wine suggestions with each dish were helpful.

                              1. I made the Oeufs en Meurette tonight and found it to be a big flop. It's in both "Bistro Cooking" and "The Provence Cookbook," and was highly recommended by here for a simple sunday night dinner. It was easy to cook but I found the Meurette sauce dull and acidic despite all the ingredients that go into it.

                                I made one of the gratins (where you cook the potatoes in cream before pouring into a gratin dish) for Thanksgiving and it was delicious. I'm looking forward to trying her other recipes.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Klunco

                                  I've not done COTM before. Aren't we supposed to wait til January to post? Educate me please :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Some folks have had the book for ages and can't wait to tell us what they cooked. It's really OK. But, usually the reporting of each COTM happens at the beginning of the month.

                                    I'm so glad you're going to join us. Hope you enjoy the journey.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      COTM is new for me too, but I'm excited about trying new cooking adventures! Thanks so much for being so tolerant and patient with newbies!

                                      1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                        So glad you'll be joining us, sunflwrsdh! We all had to start somewhere, and it's much nicer to cook along with people who love to cook... and talk about it. I've been cooking for a very long time but since cooking the COTMs I've learned so much, especially about ethnic cuisines I never dreamed I'd be cooking.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Ditto what Gio said. Also, if you're anything like me, you find yourself not having the kinds of friends (at least mostly - and obviously not including the people I now consider friends from COTM!) who are interested in non-stop cooking/cookbook talk. Makes this a nice outlet.

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            Ain't it the trurth? I left some Hazan's green lasagne with my MIL and her caregiver this morning. I was well into a dissertation on how I made the pasta, the sauce, etc. when I realized they sincerely were only interested in how it tastes. So, yes, kindred spirits aka fellow addicts here make the site what it si.

                                    2. re: c oliver

                                      We're a pretty laid back bunch (aside from our obsession with cookbooks!).

                                  2. Happy to hear you can post whenever you have time :)

                                    The dishes in Trattoria are good and very simple...enjoyed Saffron Butterflies on page 108.

                                    1. Trattoria is a wonderful book! I've been cooking from it (and At Home in Provence) for years,

                                      1. We began the New Year with the Potage aux Lentilles Avec Saucisses de Porc (Lentil soup with pork sausages) on page 34 and La Salade et Vinaigrette de Tante Yvonne (tossed green salad) on page 63. Thank goodness we had a freshly baked crusty loaf of bread a wonderful gorgonzola to accompany. I'll report as soon as the links become available.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Oh dear, are you implying what I think you're implying? If so, it doesn't sound like an auspicious start. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

                                        2. Will there be separate links for the sections? Or do we just post here?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Tom P

                                            I'm sure there will be separate links. The moderator is probably still getting over new year's celebrations.

                                          2. I KNEW there was something I had to do on New Year's Day! Sorry for the delay folks, but the threads are up:

                                            I will put forth pregnancy scatterbrain as my excuse for being late, and morning sickness as my excuse for barely participating lately. But I have enjoyed reading along with all of your cooking! Hope to get back in the kitchen soon-


                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: yamalam

                                              Had no idea Yamalam. Please be well.

                                              1. re: yamalam

                                                congratulations! Pregnancy brain is a great excuse ... the things you'll find yourself doing - whoosh!

                                                hope you feel better soon, and thanks for the links.