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Cooking With Francis: Gourmet Home Cooking

Cooking With Francis: Gourmet Home Cooking

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Cooking With Francis: Gourmet Home Cooking

236 pagine
2 ore
Jan 10, 2019


Food is at the center of most cultures around the world. Even in the poorest regions, people show hospitality by feeding neighbors and guests. Shared in tribute to her late son, Francis, Heather Sommer offers his collection of unique recipes that invite us to have a delicious meal with Francis while encouraging home cooks to explore their own creative talents in the kitchen. In addition to his delectable recipes, Heather also includes touching reflections that provide a glimpse into the life and loves of Francis, who was an army veteran and gourmet chef before his death in 2011. His recipes include such diverse and decadent dishes as fig jam, chocolate éclairs, eggs benedict, shrimp étouffée, poached salmon, mushroom Madeira sauce, steak soup, and port wine poached pears. Cooking with Francis shares a heartfelt collection of recipes and moving reflections that reveal the talents, loves, and life of a young gourmet chef with an enthusiastic passion for food.
Jan 10, 2019

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Cooking With Francis - Heather Sommer


Copyright © 2018 Heather Sommer.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted by any means—whether auditory, graphic, mechanical, or electronic—without written permission of the author, except in the case of brief excerpts used in critical articles and reviews. Unauthorized reproduction of any part of this work is illegal and is punishable by law.

This book is a work of non-fiction. Unless otherwise noted, the author and the publisher make no explicit guarantees as to the accuracy of the information contained in this book and in some cases, names of people and places have been altered to protect their privacy.

ISBN: 978-1-4834-9413-5 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4834-9412-8 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2018914666

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Getty Images are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Getty Images.

Lulu Publishing Services rev. date: 12/17/2018

Francis’s Gift

Francis David Sommer

May 12, 1983–February 11, 2011


Enjoy every day!

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the following:

The Francis D. Sommer Memorial Fund

Supporting homeless veterans

Heifer International

Working to end hunger and poverty around the world

In Francis’s Words

Food is at the center of most cultures around the world. For family occasions, such as a marriage or reunion, the celebration takes place over a huge spread of food. If a couple wants to share time together, they will often have a meal with wine and candlelight or a picnic in the park. When business executives make a deal, they have a power lunch. For most families, dinner is the time when they can all be together to enjoy a new recipe. Even in the poorest regions of the world, people show hospitality by feeding neighbors and guests. I have come to relish the time I spend in the kitchen with my mother when I am home visiting, trying new recipes from around the world, and shopping for hard-to-find ingredients.

personal essay, 2007


Cooking speaks love—love for family, friends, and strangers. In everyday meals, joyful celebrations, and grief, people give the grace of their presence to eat together, extend kindnesses, and bond. Legacies form through foods and the stories they create, which are then passed on for generations. Everyone has a story to tell, and each person’s story is important.

Cooking with Francis shares gifts of food given by my son Francis David Sommer. Delicious recipes and meals are the heart of this cookbook. Gourmet cuisine preparation is made accessible for the home cook, not just the well trained. I know because I am the home cook who tested the recipes.

This cookbook is also an exploration of grief. While my grief is personal, it is also a journey I do not take alone. I hope to honor all who grieve for the loss of a loved one. I would like to begin by introducing my son and telling you some of my journey.

My son Francis was a student in the Johnson County Community College Hospitality and Culinary Academy at the time of his death. He began his studies in the winter of 2008, following five years of service in the army. As a soldier, he served in the infantry with the Tenth Mountain Division and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Francis attained the rank of sergeant and was named the honor graduate for his leadership course of study for noncommissioned officers. The army twice awarded him the Army Commendation Medal for his service in Afghanistan. Francis was honorably discharged from the army in the fall of 2007.

He died just two months short of completing his degree in culinary studies and was to graduate in May 2011. Food and cooking were his passion, and his plan to become a chef evolved during his time in the army. This book is a collection of recipes based on those recorded in his apprentice logbook. Some of Francis’s favorite family recipes are also included.

Soon after Francis’s death, I knew I wanted to create a cookbook from his logbook. He’d worked hard to create the book and was proud of it. This was something in itself, as Francis was always understated and offhanded about his talents. I cherished the times he shared his book with me and the things I learned, and I knew the cookbook would be meaningful to others.

One evening, as I prepared his recipe for Steamed Mussels, the importance of the project became clear. This cookbook would be a way for those too young or not yet born to know him. I imagined a niece or nephew sometime in the future cooking from the book and saying, My uncle was a chef, and this is his recipe. That image impressed me with the meaning of the project, and I was compelled to do it.

Grief is a journey—a deeply personal and solitary evolving passage to previously unimagined thoughts, ideas, and places. Grief can also be expansive. Bonds are formed with new friends, or old friends are now known in a new way. Creating this cookbook has been a journey as well. If not for the loss of Francis, I would never have taken on this task or achieved closeness to this book that was his and became ours.

The concept of death and loss as forms of grace was first introduced to me in Jerry Sittser’s book A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss. Creating this cookbook has been a gift, and I grew in ways I could not imagine. Lessons in cooking became lessons on living with loss. Immersing myself in the language, methods, and many new ingredients I discovered along the way has been a grace I never expected on this journey. I truly lived and breathed in Francis while making these recipes. Sometimes that was difficult, but it was always enlightening and worth the effort.

I used his tools and imagined him with me giving guidance on many occasions. It is a gift I cannot keep for myself. I am grateful for the opportunity to share Francis and these wonderful recipes with family, friends, and all who participate in this journey of love by connecting to Francis and his creative spirit through reading and cooking these recipes.

I altered very little in the recipe formatting from Francis’s original log, as it was my desire and intent to be as true to his recipe presentations as possible and maintain the integrity of his writing. Most of the original recipes were written for restaurant service, so I scaled them for serving a family or small group. I was so new to this process that I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a conversion calculator, so I took this first step using only pencil and paper and a scale. But here was a small grace, as calculating by hand made me really think about the ingredients and the ratios between them. Also, as I read and learned, resizing a recipe is not an exact science; in order to achieve the best result, measurements may be flexible.

I also changed the format of Francis’s directions from paragraphs to a step-list order to provide clarity. Here and there, Francis challenged me with an omitted step in ingredient preparation or cooking. That actually made the testing more fun and intellectually stimulating, as I was required to research and use my own resources to work things out.

A Comment about Recipe Notes

I added tips and suggestions when I felt they would be helpful to the home cook like me. These were things learned as I cooked through the recipes. Testing the recipes has been a big learning curve in culinary knowledge—the language, methods, and even tools—and required a certain amount of patience and courage. Once I started creating the cookbook, however, there was never a question that I would finish the project no matter how long it took.

I encourage you to select a recipe with ingredients or techniques that may be new to you and invent your own plan for enjoying it. The beauty of recipes is in their ability to morph into an expanding variety of ingredients and uses. I believe Francis would be delighted to know that someone would take a recipe and alter it to personal tastes and needs.

The origin of these recipes, other than their presentation in Francis’s logbook, is unknown to me. For this reason, few recipes are given a reference citing. I request forgiveness for any possible omissions of acknowledgment to recipe authors.

Photo References

The photo references in the serving suggestions are to Francis’s original photos for illustrating the recipes in his logbook. All his photos could not be included in this book, so I tried to provide an adequate description of how he used the recipe whenever possible. As I prepared the recipes, I found it helpful to know what foods accompanied the recipe so I could couple items and often attempt to duplicate the meal.

The cover photos were the last of the food photos taken by Francis, on the evening of February 9, 2011, at the Classic Cup Restaurant, Kansas City, Missouri.

A Note of Appreciation

Thank you to my family and friends who supported me through this project with their enthusiasm, encouragement, and participation.

My husband, Bob, was a willing taste-tester, photographer, occasional sous chef, editor, and overall guide. Most importantly, he has been my constant strength, always there to listen and give comfort. My children, Alex and Erin, with their respective spouses, Sarah and Aaron, tested and tasted recipes. Alex remembers Francis through one of his favorite cooking methods, barbecuing, and helped with some recipes in that category. Erin also gave her editorial support, for which I am enormously grateful. I knew it was asking a lot of her to edit her mother, as well as step into my journey.

Thank you to Dave and Diane Christi. Dave, Francis’s godfather and known to the children as Uncle Dave, is a trained and talented cook. Dave and Diane skillfully prepared some of the Asian recipes and gave me their feedback. My nephew Kevin and his Korean-born wife, Mikki, artfully prepared a

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