Writing about French Food: A panel discussion at the American Library

American Library panel
American Library panel

This Wednesday I am going to be joining Ann Mah in a panel discussion at The American Library of Paris on writing about French Food. We will be talking about our respective books The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence and Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons on Food and Love from a Year in Paris. There'll be wine, snacks and the opportunity to buy the books thanks to WH Smith.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday February 5, 2014, 7:30pm

The American Library of Paris

10, rue du Général Camou

75007 Paris

Tel: +33 1 53 59 12 60

Paris book signing at WH Smith December 17

WH Smith author event
WH Smith author event

It's wonderful to be home in Paris after my chock-a-block US tour for The French Kitchen Cookbook. Thanks to everyone who came along to the events, it was great to meet all you food lovers!

The tour continues in Paris however, with an event next Tuesday, December 17 at WH Smith, from 6-8pm. I'll be signing books from 6 to 7pm, with a presentation from 7 to 8pm. I'd love to see you there!

WH Smith, 248 rue de Rivoli, Paris 1

Tel.+33 1 44 77 88 99

Nutritious life week at the Golden Door

Golden Door 11 6 13

This week I have been fortunate enough to participate in Nutritious Life Week at the Golden Door Spa in Escondido, California. Along with 5-mile morning mountain hikes, classes in Fast Fit, daily workouts with my trainer, strenuous water aerobic classes, and daily tennis lessons, the days are sprinkled with massages, manicures, pedicures and facials. There is also time for me to talk to the guests about my own fitness program, my cooking, and signings for my new book, The French Kitchen Cookbook. Pictured above are a few guests enjoying the spa's first outdoor picnic, held overlooking the 3-acre organic vegetable garden, a paradise that right now is bursting with multiple varieties of beets, carrots, fennel, kale, society garlic, nasturtiums, oregano, and Mexican tarragon. Tonight, in our cooking class, we sliced many of these vegetables paper-thin, blanched them, then tossed them with an avalanche of herbs and a Yogurt, Lemon and Chive Dressing (recipe follows.) We also prepared a lighter variation of my Miniature Onion and Goat Cheese Appetizers, as well as Grilled Polenta Squares with Tomato and Onion Sauce, both variations on recipes from The French Kitchen Cookbook.

Yogurt, Lemon, and Chive Dressing

Equipment: A small jar, with a lid.

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt

1/3 cup finely minced fresh chives

In a small jar, combine the lemon juice and the salt.  Shake to dissolve the salt.

Add the yogurt and chives. Shake to blend. Taste for seasoning. Store covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Shake to blend again before using.

About 3/4 cups

Miniature Onion and Goat Cheese Appetizers

These tasty, savory, miniature appetizers are a huge hit in my cooking classes. There is always a great sense of satisfaction, when one removes a tray of these fragrant, golden nuggets from the oven. These are best warm from the oven but are also delicious at room temperature. They can serve as appetizers or as sides to a simple green salad.

Equipment: A food processor; 2 nonstick petit four molds or mini muffin tins, each with twelve 2  1/2–inch (6.5 cm) cups, or a 24-cup mini-muffin pan.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound (500 g) onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half moons

Fine sea salt

Coarse, freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces (125 g) soft, fresh goat’s milk cheese

Grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic

3 large eggs, preferably free range and organic lightly beaten

1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme leaves

Fleur de sel, for garnish

  1. Evenly center two racks in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce the heat to low, add the onions and a pinch of salt, and sweat – cook, covered, over low heat until soft and translucent – about 10 minutes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Taste for seasoning.
  3. In the food processor, combine the goat cheese, lemon zest, eggs, and thyme leaves and process to blend. Add the cheese mixture to the onions in the skillet and stir to blend. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture into each mold or muffin cup.
  5. Place the molds in the oven and bake until the mixture is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Then remove them from the cups. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with fleur de sel.

Makes 24 miniature appetizers

Wine suggestion: The mineral-rich flavors of this blend of Marsanne, Clairette, Ugni Blanc and Bourboulenc with their touch of spice make this white wine –Domaine du Paternel Cassis Blanc de Bancs -- a perfect palate opener to pair with the tatins.

Grilled Polenta with Tomato and Onion Sauce

This light, colorful vegetarian weeknight dinner is a favorite, and this soothing, comfort-food dish knows few rivals, particularly in cooler weather.

Equipment: A 1-quart (1 l) gratin dish, 4 warmed dinner plates.

3  1/2 cups (875 ml) 1 % milk

Fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup (135 g) instant polenta

1/2 cup (3 ounces; 90 g) freshly grated Gruyère cheese, plus extra for garnish

1 large onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half-rounds

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

One  28-ounce (765g) can peeled Italian plum tomatoes in juice

Fresh, flat-leafed parsley leaves, for garnish

1. In a large saucepan, bring the milk, 1 teaspoon of the sea salt, and the nutmeg to a boil over medium heat. (Watch carefully, for milk will boil over quickly.) Add the polenta in a steady stream and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 minutes.

2.Remove from the heat. Add half of the cheese, stirring to blend thoroughly.  The polenta should be very creamy and pourable. Pour it into the gratin dish. Even out the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to firm up. (Or store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.)

3.Prepare the tomato garnish: In a large skillet, combine the onion, the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt and sweat – cook, covered over low heat until soft and translucent – about 5 minutes. With a large pair of scissors, cut the tomatoes in the can into small piece. Add the bay leaves and tomatoes and their juices and cook, covered, over low heat for about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

4.At serving time, preheat the broiler. Cut the polenta into 8 even squares. Place on the baking sheet, cheese side up. Place under the broiler and broil until the cheese sizzles, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the squares to the warmed plates, stacking the second slice at an angle over the first. Spoon the sauce all over. Garnish with parsley and cheese.

4 servings

WINE SUGGESTION: An inexpensive everyday dish suggests an equally fine but gently priced wine. A favorite is Michel and Stephane Ogier’s La Rosine Syrah, a deep purple vin de pays from the hillsides north of the old Roman town of Vienne.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: Both the tomato sauce and the polenta can be prepared up to 3 days in advance, then covered and refrigerated separately. Reheat at serving time.

THE SECRET: When using whole, canned tomatoes, use a scissors to cut the tomatoes into small pieces, making for a still chunky yet finer sauce.

Doctor Wells

When the Fed Ex van made it to the top of our Provençal hill on a late summer morning, it was a much happier occasion than many of this summer’s deliveries, a long stream of page proofs and editorial requests that Patricia has described as “publishing hell. ” Hell is over, and the heavenly results are apparent elsewhere on the site.

But back to that August morning: the delivery was from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, which in May awarded Patricia an honorary doctorate of fine arts. Officials at the distinguished college had shipped the framed certificate announcing the artium doctoris; the black, white and scarlet academic “hood” the she is now entitled to wear in future academic processions; and the charming and extensive description of Patricia’s accomplishments, written by Dr. Kathryn Wixon of the college French department and read by Peyton R. Helm, president of Muhlenberg, as he conferred the degree.

The mover and shaker in all this was Sandy Jaffee, who came to Provence as one of Patricia’s students and became a great friend. A retired executive vice president at Citibank, she’s on the Muhlenberg board.

This was Patricia’s second honorary doctorate – the first was from her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, in 2006.

I’m posting a PDF of the Muhlenberg citation here – Patricia was resistant to the idea, but she’s not always right.

– Walter Wells

Cookbook collectors alert!

photo 3.JPG

Yesterday I had the good fortune to speak and sign copies of all my books at the fabulous Omnivore Books on Food (3885A Cesar Chavez, at Church Street) in San Francisco. The cozy store (a former butcher's shop) is like a candy store for cookbook lovers, loaded with old books, new books, books on every subject, ranging from building chicken coops to signed original copies from authors all over. Owner Celia Sach runs a cool Signed Cookbook Club, where members receive four signed cookbooks each year. Each book is a surprise, although members can note preferences, such as baking, meat, vegetables, food history. And sounds like a great gift! $160 per year. More information at


Orcas Island cooking experience


I just arrived on the ferry from Seattle, and am bathing in the sunshine and pristine environment of  Orcas Island, a land of rugged peaks and craggy shores cradling oyster beds, organic lamb, pork, poultry, and produce. We have already enjoyed the local mussels and clams and look forward to more tonight, at a dinner for Salad As A Meal. But there's more! My good friend and local food expert Jeffrey Bergman (pictured right) will join with host John Trumbull (pictured left) at the warming Rose's Bakery and Cafe from May 15 to 18 for a fabulous hand's on Culinary Workshop. Jeffrey will take a select 10 students on a local tour, as guests gather around the farm table for feasts, caravan to Judd Cove for an oyster class and picnic-style feast on the beach. There will be hand's on classes with local produce, tours of gardens and farms, and of course a wine tasting. Alas, I will be back in France then, but you can join in and profit from Jeffrey's vast expertise and enthusiasm for food, wine, and the Seattle area. To sign up, contact Jeffrey at quincetree@comcast.net or phone him at 206 721 2592.

Salad as a Meal Challenge!

Salmon Tartare 1.jpg

I am excited to announce the beginning of the Salad As A Meal Challenge! My new book Salad As A Meal will be published April 5, and my wonderful publisher William Morrow has organized a fabulous month long challenge, offering free copies of the cookbook for those who cook at least three Salad As A Meal recipes a week for four weeks and blog about their experience. I’ll be following your comments, and look forward to every last bite!

Click here to get the all the details, including how to enter, program guidelines, and blogger benefits.


Salad as a Meal: Patricia Wells Tour


April 13:  NEW YORK CITY

2:30 to 4 PM James Beard Foundation—talk & signing

Chelsea Markets, 9th Ave and West 16th St

7 PM French Institute Alliance Française

Conversation with Ina Garten

Demo, book signing

22 E 60th St

Melissa Ceria, (646) 388-6628


9 AM Hour NBC-TV Today Show

12:15 PM “Eat Drink with Lucinda Scala Quinn”—Live

Martha Stewart Living, Sirius XM Satellite Radio

7:30PM New Canaan Library—signing

151 Main Street / New Canaan, CT

*RSVP programs@newcanaanlibrary.orgor (203) 594-5040


7PM Borders in Time Warner Center—signing

10 Columbus Circle


3PM Books & Greetings—signing

271 Livingston St, Northvale, NJ

Kenny Salfin, (201) 784-2665, kennys1407@aol.com

April 17: CHICAGO

3 to 5 PM The Spice House—signing

1512 North Wells St/ Chicago, IL

Patty Erd, (312) 274-0378

RSVP spices@thespicehouse.com


12 to 2PM Bartolotta’s Restaurants—Luncheon, signing

Bacchus,  925 E Wells / Milwaukee, WI

John Wise, (414) 765-1166

RSVP (414) 765-1166;

$95/ includes lunch, wine. book


12 to 3 PM Froggy’s French Café—Luncheon, signing

306 Green Bay Rd Highwood, IL

Lake Forest Book Store

Susan Boucher, (847) 234-4420

(847) 234-4420; $35/ for lunch

April 20: SEATTLE

Morning TV:    KING-TV “New Day Northwest”

Or KCPQ-TV “Q-13 Fox News This Morning”

Or “KING 5 Morning News” on KONG-TV

12 to 2 PM The Walrus and the Carpenter—Lunch, signing

4743 Ballard Avenue NW / Seattle, Washington 98107

Renee Erickson, (206) 395-9227

(206) 395-9227; $75 all-inclusive

4 PM                KOMO-TV “KOMO First News at 4”

6:30PM Boat Street—Dinner and book signing

3131 Western Ave  #301 / Seattle, WA

Renee Erickson, (206) 395-9227

(206) 632-4602 $100, all-inclusive

April 21:           SEATTLE

6:30PM Rose’s Bakery and Café—Dinner, signing

382 Prune Alley Orcas Island, WA

(360) 376-5805

April 22:           SEATTLE

1PM Press & blogger lunch at Jeffrey Bergman’s home

4611 51st Av South  Seattle, WA

April 23:            SAN FRANCISCO

10:30AM KGO-AM “Gene Burns Show”—Live

12 to 2 PM Pasta Shop—signing

1786 Fourth Street / Berkeley, CA

Roberta Klugman, (510) 655-7790

3PM Omnivore Books on Food—signing

3885A Cesar Chavez St  San Francisco, CA

(415) 282-4712

April 25:           SAN FRANCISCO

12 to 1PM Google—Lunch, talk & signing

345 Spear Street – 4th Floor in San Francisco

Lindsay Dahms lindsayd@google.com

7PM Books, Inc. (Marina Store)— signing

2251 Chestnut St San Francisco

(415) 931-3633

April 26:            SAN FRANCISCO

6:30PM Left Bank Restaurant dinner

507 Magnolia Avenue / Larkspur, CA

(415) 927-3331

Contact: Marguerita Castanera, mordie@vom.com

Friday, April 29: GREENSBORO

7 pm Book Signing Barnes & Noble Greensboro



Hand’s on cooking class and special meals

Kelley Clark Harris kelley@blackberryfarm.com.

May 3:               RALEIGH

7PM Regulator Bookshop—Talk, signing

720 Ninth St/ Durham, NC

Tom Campbell (919) 286-2700

May 4:               RALEIGH

7:30PM Quail Ridge Books—signing

3522 Wade Ave / Raleigh, NC

Rene Martin, (919) 828-7912

May 5:               RALEIGH

6PM A Southern Season—$35 Dinner, signing

201 S. Estes Drive / Chapel Hill, NC

www.southernseason.com 877 929 7133