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For the Kitchen Bookshelf : Cookbooks. Big books, little books, showy cocktail table books . . . all arrive in time for holiday shopping each year. The Times' Food staff took a look at some of this year's offerings, many of which will make excellent gift choices for last-minute shoppers. Here's a rundown on some we found interesting.

December 21, 1986|Barbara Hansen

French Family Cooking by Francoise Bernard (Macmillan: $25, 253 pp., illustrated).

Showoff restaurant cooking is one thing. Home cooking is another, and by no means inferior. Although the intricacies of contemporary French chefs may lie beyond the scope or desire of many, French home cooking can be simple, practical and well endowed with flair. Francoise Bernard, whose book has been translated from the French for American readers, does not allow purism to inhibit performance. The cook who might be intimidated by a classic bouillabaisse recipe that specifies 10 types of Mediterranean fish and shellfish will delight in her simplification. She authorizes the choice of any assortment of seafood from a group commonly available at American supermarkets. And she advises the cook to make rouille, the bread-based sauce stirred into the bouillabaisse, with a food processor, which plays a role in many of her recipes. Although she prefers homemade stocks, Bernard writes canned broth and bouillon cubes into her recipes and condones the substitution of dried and frozen ingredients for fresh.

One could put together an effortless dinner party with such recipes from the book as shrimp cocktail with kiwis, rib roast with Beaujolais sauce, green salad with grilled goat cheese and strawberries Melba. Color photographs show how each dish should look.

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