When I was a child, French food reigned supreme. Now, admittedly, that is a very long time ago, but it is astonishing how out of favour it has been, in the world of restaurants and cook books, here at least. Even those of us who like to think we are impervious to fads and trends, can’t help but notice it. But two things are true: fashions by their very nature change; and good food always endures. Of course this is not the first book of French cooking to be published recently, but I feel it - along with Felicity Cloake’s enticing One More Croissant For the Road - heralds its fashionable return. Perhaps the word ‘fashionable’ is unkind: but both books seductively remind us of the comforting allure of French food. Naturally, given Sardine’s subtitle - “Simple, seasonal Provençal cooking” - there is an Italianate edge (or perhaps that should more accurately be called Mediterranean) to the food on its pages, but whatever it properly is, I want to eat it. On the edge of summer here, I long for their Mixed Bean Salad with Anchovies, Tarragon & Egg; Mozzarella, Peaches & Ham; and Grilled Aubergine Vinaigrette. I have my eye on the Apricot & Brown Butter Tart, too. But it is the recipes from the Autumn and Winter sections that make me particularly grateful for this beautiful book. Just for starters: Black Fig & Tomato Salad; Fried Ceps & Persillade; Swiss Chard & Anchovy Gratin; Chicken Liver & Cep Parfait; Whole Baked Cheese; Rhubarb Galette. I could go on and on. Just listing the recipes, let alone eating them, makes me feel safe somehow. And the recipe I’ve chosen to share with you is a particularly compelling one for me. It’s from the Winter section, which is lovely for those in the Southern hemisphere and gives us in the Northern hemisphere something gorgeous to look forward to (though if the rains continue, I will not wait) and it’s the Beef Shin, Chestnuts, Polenta & Gruyère.